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Saranac Lake gears up for First Night

SARANAC LAKE - New Year's Eve brings a good deal of holiday hubbub to the village as the fourth annual First Night Saranac Lake gives area residents a chance to be well entertained on the last night of the year.

Susan Patterson was one of a close-knit group of friends that started First Night in Saranac Lake to ring in 2006. Four years later, she's delighted the event has caught on.

"First Night is becoming a cornerstone of Saranac Lake," said Patterson. "People are really looking forward to it and they know what it is."

Saranac Lake's First Night is one of 75 licensed events throughout the country. Patterson said she was inspired to bring First Night to Saranac Lake after attending the one in Burlington, Vt.

"I thought Saranac Lake would be a good place to have one and not have to drive to Burlington," she said. "Over the last three years, we've had between 1,300 and 1,500 people come."

This year's event features a schedule packed with a wide variety of performers, both new and returning. Grammy Award-winning bluegrass duo The Gibson Brothers, who performed at the original First Night in Saranac Lake, headline the evening.

"We do try to focus on local musicians and artists," said Patterson, noting how Mango Jam, a zydeco band from Burlington, will kick off the evening at the Harrietstown Town Hall.

There are also plenty of other venues, all indoors, where First Night-goers can celebrate the dawning of a new year. Saranac Lake Free Library will host kid-friendly acts by singer/storyteller Speedy Arnold and ventriloquist Sylvia Fletcher.

At Petrova Elementary School, music by some talented youth will be on display, including the Saranac Lake High School Jazz Ensemble and the River Rat Project, a group of students from Carthage who are a perennial favorite with their steel drums.

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