New Year's on Nantucket
What do you remember about New Year's Eve?
My first memory of New Year’s Eve was watching my parents get ready for their annual evening celebration. This was a yearly event for them and as a hardworking couple raising four young children, they took a night alone out together very seriously. As I waited for the babysitter to arrive from across the street, my mother would be scurrying around her bedroom preparing for her festive night as I sat watching her on her bed. Dad’s scent of Bay Rum cologne still lingered in the air as he went downstairs to warm up the car. Mom dressed to the nines and wearing her signature Shalimar along with her special occasion charm bracelet looked absolutely beautiful. I remember thinking that I had never seen two more glamorous people in my life. I couldn’t wait to grow up.
Some years later my parents introduced me to Nantucket. Mom read about it in the New York Times. She was an avid crossword player but found an article about how great the fishing was on Island. My father was an amazing angler so off we went. We never looked back.
Now I find myself, after working here for many years, helping to plan the first Nantucket New Year’s celebration. This was not a novel idea because many people have already had this cross their minds and there were certainly past successful celebrations such as the Nantucket AIDS Ball. I thought this could be a bit different though. I saw a vision of great participation within the whole community where everyone could find a way or have a venue to enjoy their own unique celebrations. It would be held over a four-day period. Nantucket, beautifully holiday decorated through the downtown, already had a natural canvas to extend the season until early January. A last celebration before we enter the true quiet season of midwinter. If the community interest was not there, it would be a moot point but fortunately with support from ReMain Nantucket and so many other organizations we are going forward. To be completely honest, I am really excited and I hope you catch the feeling too.
A New Year’s celebration can be a very personal experience. It is important to have many different choices that will appeal to all different kinds of people joining in the festivities. We were fortunate to have the Nantucket Historical Association organization extend their amazing Festival of Trees. The Maria Mitchell will be making stargazing easy for us all with use of their telescopes. I remember going to the observatory as a child on clear Nantucket dark nights and feeling like I could actually touch the stars. The Atheneum will be putting on a children’s concert so come sing along. An amazing light show set to music is being produced suitable for all ages that will be shown three times at the restored Dreamland Performing Arts Center on New Year’s Eve. Seeing a teaser clip of some video of the actual light show and knowing how Virna from ReMain painstakingly chose the music from what was available, I know we are all going to be in for treat. As a first time laser show viewer I am ready to be astounded. I promise not to sing or tap my feet too loudly.
Then, there are Nantucket’s incredible restaurants with their wonderful foods always served in their unique and fantastic settings. Many are staying open for this holiday and will be providing all kinds of delights to eat or drink. There will be casual fare which I plan to enjoy after a long, brisk walk on the conservation trails with my Border collies, Moose and Billie. I also will make dinner reservations. I look forward to a leisurely meal fueled by delicious food and conversation with my visiting friend Ellen and my husband Gary. Feeling competitive and expressive with your own food creations? Start your ovens and join in on the Chronicle Chili Cook-Off hosted by Nantucket Foodie and Nantucket Chronicle held at Mitchell’s Book Corner. This year there will be food and beverages from many different countries available at specific restaurants with some of the proceeds going to the Nantucket Food Pantry. We are an island of diversity and it is natural to include all in the celebration.
Why not enjoy music, dancing and celebration over the weekend? The beautifully restored Nantucket Hotel will be putting on a Gatsby themed Ball on New Year’s Eve and in the spirit of my Mother I will put on my best outfit to attend. I cannot promise my husband will be dressing to the nines but I know we are in for a night of fun and great spirit at many places. I am hoping to use some of the moves to the live Perry Rossi Orchestra I learned in Lois MacDonald’s dancing school that I reluctantly attended when I was ten. On Saturday night don’t forget your dancing shoes when you go to the cozy and hip Pazzo restaurant for some fun or be serenaded by our fabulous Island talent at the “New Beginnings” elegant Cabaret being held at the Dreamland. Feeling musical? Attend the community bell-ringing and sing-a-long at the Unitarian Church being held on New Year’s Eve too. Need help finding something to wear for all the festivities or want to buy a gift? Many of the stores have committed to running end of season sales. What fun knowing you can wear something new or purchase a unique item from one of our own extraordinary hometown shops. Don’t forget if you plan on having friends or family stay for the weekend, you can call Nantucket Visitor Services for all room availability too.
There is so much going on and we are getting such great community support for this event. Not to put the cart before the horse but I want to thank all the organizations and media that have assisted us. Amy and Virna who have been my partners in this celebration and have given so much of their expertise, I must make sure I recognize for both their talents and collaboration. The planning sessions have been so much fun, I can only hope all the events mirror that upbeat reflection.
As Amy has brought up many times during our strategy sessions, New Year’s can be a time for reflection, rejoicing and renewal. A chance to both look at the past and go forward in the most encouraging of ways.
This New Year’s will be a personal time for me. I will remember the dear memories of my parents while sharing in a new celebration with the community and place that I hold in great esteem. Nantucket is my home and a Happy New Year to everyone.
All times, dates and information about this first Nantucket New Year’s celebration are available at www.nantucketnewyears.org. We are continuing to add events as they are submitted so check the site frequently. You can also call Nantucket Visitor Services at 508-228-0925 with any questions you may have and remember to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.