Pop-rock band Hanson will headline First Night, Central New York’s New Year’s Eve celebration at Onondaga Lake Park in Liverpool.
County Executive Joanie Mahoney announced this year’s First Night celebration will be free for the first time ever, paid for by Burdick Chevy at Driver’s Village. In previous years, the New Year’s Eve celebration cost $5 in advance and $8 at the gate.
Hanson rose to stardom and heartthrob status when their debut album “Middle of Nowhere” topped pop music charts in 1997. Brothers Isaac, Taylor and Zac will perform their hit single “MMMBop” at First Night along with several original songs.
“The musical headliner will be very familiar if you grew up in the 1990s or had children in the 1990s,” said Ed Levine, president and CEO of Galaxy Communications. “While ‘MMMBop’ is what they’re primarily known for, in the last 5-7 years they’ve developed a whole new generation of fans.”
Levine first heard Hanson’s music when his now-25-year-old daughter listened to them in ’90s.
“There’s a lot of age groups I think are going to be covered with this band,” said Mahoney.
In its fourth year, “First Night was created as a central point where families could gather in a safe environment for an alcohol-free New Year’s Eve,” said Levine.
“The commissioner, county executive and myself looked at [First Night] last year and said, how could we take very good, and make it great?” Levine said. “The easy answer is a low ticket price, but how about no ticket price?”
Burdick Chevy and Driver’s Village partnered with Galaxy and the county to pay for First Night expenses, so admission could be free. It is the first year for Burdick to sponsor this event.
This year, the Onondaga Parkway will kept open and shuttle buses will no longer bring attendees to the grounds as they did in previous years. With free admission and more parking, Levine hopes this year will bring record-breaking attendance.
“We expect thousands upon thousands of people there on New Year’s Eve,” he said.
The upcoming Wegmans Lights on the Lake display, now in its 24th year, will begin to illuminate the park starting November 19.
New additions to Lights on the Lake include a 47-ft. long Beauty and the Beast display, 42 ft. wide Robin Hood display and a 33-ft. tall animated tornado in the ‘Wizard of Oz’ display.
Onondaga County Parks Commissioner Bill Lansley said 30 percent of last year’s Lights on the Lake show was lit by energy-efficient LED lights. This year’s show approaches 75 percent.
“We’ve seen a dramatic decrease in our electricity bills,” said Lansley. “It’s a very colorful show and now very energy efficient.”
Lansley said it’s their goal to eventually use 100 percent LEDs for Lights on the Lake.
Although Wegmans hasn’t been the presenting sponsor every year, Wegmans has made financial contributions to Lights on the Lake since its inception. This year, it takes acts as head sponsor for Lights on the Lake.
Admission to Lights on the Lake
$10 per car Monday-Thursday and $15 per car Friday-Sunday. If you show a Wegmans Shoppers Club card, you can pay $6 on Mondays or Tuesdays.
Discounted advance sale tickets for Lights on the Lake are available for $6 at Wegmans, on sale through November 20.
Open 5-10 p.m. every night through January 12, 2014.