Citing weather woes and cost, Kingston cancels Uptown NYE party

Revelers jam Uptown in this photo from the 2014 celebration. (Photo by Phyllis McCabe)

The city will forgo its annual midnight ball-drop celebration in Uptown Kingston and instead host a family-friendly daytime event to ring in the New Year.

Mayor Steve Noble announced the plan earlier this week, citing poor weather at previous New Year’s Eve celebrations and a plethora of privately sponsored nighttime events.


“There’s already a lot of effort put into [New Years Eve] events all over the city,” said Noble Tuesday, Dec. 11. “This was an opportunity to put on an event that didn’t exist before geared towards a different crowd.”

The new event will take place on Tuesday, Dec. 31 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Andy Murphy Neighborhood Center at 467 Broadway. Activities include a dance party, kids’ games and activities, a free lunch provided by Family of Woodstock and a high-noon ball drop to ring in 2020.

Noble’s announcement brings an end to an annual tradition that began back in 2012 as an effort by a group of Uptown business owners to draw — and keep — a large crowd of revelers in the neighborhood on the biggest party night of the year. Along with the midnight ball drop, the Uptown celebration featured live music, fireworks and pop-up venues. At its peak, the event drew crowds of up to 5,000 to the streets of the Stockade District.

Uptown restaurateur Maria Phillipis was one of the co-founders of the Uptown ball drop. Phillipis said the event, while privately sponsored, enjoyed broad support from the city under the administration of Mayor Shayne Gallo. Gallo, she said, provided shuttle service for the event and had the city pick up the tab for police and sanitation costs.

Phillipis said that changed two years ago when Noble informed organizers that they would have to pay for city services and insurance for the celebration.

“We just didn’t have money for those things, you’re talking thousands of dollars,” said Phillipis who owns the popular Uptown eatery Boitson’s. “People think it’s easy, but try throwing a party for 5,000 people.”

In response to the increased costs, the event’s founders opted to turn over sponsorship of the ball drop to the city beginning in 2017. Over the next two years, the event was marred by inhospitable weather — sub-zero temperatures in 2017 and torrential rain last year. Noble said the vagaries of the weather were one of the reasons he opted for an indoor, daytime celebration for 2019. 

“The first year was ridiculously freezing cold. [Local musician] Lara Hope tried to play and her fingers froze, and last year it was pouring rain,” said Noble. “The crowds were kind of dwindling.”

There are 10 comments

  1. Bryan A. Blas

    This Mayor is part of the problem in Kingston and definitely not the solution. His cost overruns for projects and tax incentives, allowing RUPCO free reign to destroy history and to build eyesores, and now cancelling events, siting weather ehenbthevreal reason is that he spent all the money on himself and his cronies. Time for impeachment locally!

  2. Sally

    Okay wait. You mean to tell me, a woman who owned a business that charged 15 dollars for a SALAD (and then extra for protein) is having a hard timing coming up with a couple hundred dollars for trash pick up and calling her insurance company? That is absolute insanity.

    This is coming from that same group of businesses that just hosted an event uptown celebrating “snowflakes” that had fire eaters, a stage, horse draw carriages, MULTIPLE street closures, and countless of vendors? These are the people are making huge profits on the tourists and City dwellers who run upstate to pay 8 bucks for a bagel, but are play the victim because an event,( that they honestly could still put on if it was so beloved) is being cancelled? These are the same people who demanded increased police presence Uptown because of “homeless” people. These are the same people who own buildings, and hiked your rent because an instagram blogger said our town was “hip.” The same people who waste their days away drinking specialty cocktails, or slumming it at Snappers for the cool points. The same people who call noise complaints on rival businesses, or people they don’t like. The same people who valued the attention of an absolute nightmare of a Mayor because they enjoyed the benefits of being his friend… yeah, OUR people…

    There are over 15 businesses in Uptown Kingston. If you collected a hundred bucks from each business owner, math says you have 1500. Get the street closed and the trash picked up. Ask Radio Kingston to assist with the logistics, and perhaps implore their generous funder to rent the stage. See if O+ has anything to offer the neighborhood. Grovel at the feet of Lord Bender. There are options to make this happen. Get the artists to make a ball drop, or do a video countdown. It really doesn’t have to be grand, if what you really care about is creating a community driven event. But, as it states CLEARLY in the article, it’s not about community. It’s about keeping people spending money in Uptown, which seems to be all this town cares about. If this was an event in the Rondout, I’m sure no one would be weeping in earnest over the loss to our culture.

    Lastly, to the idiots claiming that NYC doesn’t have a problem putting on NYE events, so why is it so hard in Kingston?! Please, please, please do not procreate. NYC is a city of millions of people!! Do you want to take a moment to do ANY research into how much private funding goes into making that event happen??? The bill for NYPD itself is enough to make your head hurt. You really must be drinking the aforementioned instagramblogger koolaid if you think there is anything in common with New York City’s decade-long, truly beloved tradition, which thousands of tourists/residents attend, and our meager NYE offering in Kingston…

    1. Carl

      Yes Sally,It is the same as it ever was.You make some excellent points.Town will always be a bastion of confusion.Few families and now boutique hotel owners calling the shots.Small businesses pay lousy wages if they hire.Bunch of over priced restaurants with inept wait staff because the owners pay lousy wages.

  3. Lara Hope

    Oh I didn’t try to play…we did play, for an hour in negative ten degrees! Long live rock n roll! Y’all can come see us for free at Keegan Ales this NYE instead!

  4. Matt

    Hey sally, do you sell better salad for less?, or Maybe you could organize the NYE party this year. I might come if it’s not freezing or raining

  5. Elizabeth

    “sally” – why is it that you feel you need to go after “a woman who owned a business” for this issue?
    Got a problem with being a woman? You are probably not even a woman, yet you decide to go on the attack under the veil of one, too. You have become a local troll attacking an employer and wonderful member of our community who happens to be a woman. You should deal with our issues in therapy, not through fake personas. Your message is lost with your propaganda. If you want to be part of the conversation, be productive and be part of a solution. Please also provide real facts, not alternatives to meet your angry self narrative. Contribute something useful – don’t contaminate the well of good that is trying to survive here during much change.

  6. SG

    OK wait everybody. Lots of bad mojo in the comments section. Are we that sour as a community? We don’t have a reason or a right to be. Kingston is special place that’s working hard to get even better.

    All the negs aside from commentors, simple question, thought, expectation – Kingston benefits enourmously by the NYE event Uptown. It was one of the rare instances that brought Kingston together in one place to celebrate something. It mixed old-timers and new-comers, locals and visitors, and even though it is cancelling this year I would strongly encourage the city and the original/previous ad-hoc organizers together to set up a committee that can pull this off. Kingston can afford to put up barricades and have police on hand for one night per year. The sales tax revenue from that night should demonstrate the monetary value to the city, and it puts our police in positive presence with the community. There’s a huge value in doing that.

    For the Uptown businesses, you all benefit from this event because aside from one night, it puts eyes on you and people, like me, see new things that I come back for after the party is over – shops, restaurants, the changes that happen are seen by new and returning customers – that’s got huge value as well.

    If Hooly on the Hudson, the local marathon, and other large-scale events that are subject to weather events can be policed and can afford a 6-hour Temporary Event Insurance Policy to host 5,000+ for NYE. And if it can’t then be transparent, tell us how much that Policy is for this event and the Committee and the public can decide if we all pitch in a couple of $ to help host NYE.

    The ‘we aren’t doing it’ thing feels a bit abrubt and misguided – from this story – on all sides.

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