Canfield First Night deemed big success

By Amanda C. Davis

About 2,500 people rang in the New Year at Canfield’s First Night celebration.

CANFIELD – The township is being asked to repeat its donation of $11,500 this year for First Night Canfield, an event that was deemed a big success in 2009.

Suzanne Heino, First Night executive director, asked township trustees Tuesday for help with the event which will mark its 13th year Dec. 31.

The arts celebration helps mark the passage from one year to the next and is funded through private donations from families and businesses, with support from the township and city.

Heino said the committee will continue to pursue grants and money through private foundations.

Bob Hudock, the event’s entertainment coordinator, said the city’s contribution in 2009 was $8,500.

Because of community support, Hudock told trustees, Canfield’s celebration is the only First Night in the country that doesn’t charge admission for people ages 18 and under.

Trustee Chairwoman Marie Cartwright said the township has a temporary budget in place and decisions on financial support will be made after public budget hearings which haven’t yet been scheduled.

Heino is in her second year as executive director and said events such as First Night, Canfield Fair and Concerts on the Green add to the quality of life here. That quality is one of the main reasons she and her family moved back to the area from Ashtabula six years ago.

“These are the things Canfield is known for,” she said.

About 2,500 people attended First Night Canfield on Dec. 31 to take part in entertainment that was scheduled at various locations around town. That included theater performances, children’s activities, music and dance groups.

First Night Secretary Dale Bradshaw said the committee asks for support early on because planning takes much of a year. The family-friendly event offers an alcohol-free environment that gives young people a nice alternative to partying, he said.

In its first few years, First Night had trouble attracting young people, but Bradshaw said more and more participate each year.

“It’s more than entertainment,” he said. “We’re saving lives.”

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