It's all systems go for the fireworks and ice sculptures on New Year's Eve for First Night Portsmouth.

The ice sculpture team will set up downtown in Market Square in front of the North Church and the fireworks display takes place in the evening at the South Mill Pond at 8 p.m.

And that's it.

After the celebration was canceled to ring in 2021 because of the pandemic Pro Portsmouth brought it back to welcome 2022.  But the pandemic still hung over the event as the decision was made by Pro Porstmouth Executive Director Babara Massar to scale back and not include indoor performances and music.

That also meant there were no events to sell buttons for which led Pro Portsmouth to be blunt and ask the public for help.

"Back on December 2 once we knew that we had what we had targeted as $15,000 as being what we absolutely had to have to go ahead. We hit that mark, we signed our contracts with the fireworks group and with our sculpture and got our insurance and met with the city," Babara Massar told Seacoast Current.

The weather forecast for Friday calls for cloudy skies with temperatures in the 40s dropping into the 30s at night. The fireworks display and ice sculpture artist Jeff Day are comfortable with the forecast, Massar said.

"At some point you defer to the experts. I trust their judgement because they're wonderful at what they do," Massar said.

Massar said that the preparation has been nerve-wracking for her because there's been less to do because of the lack of indoor events.

"Usually we're a lot busier selling buttons and fielding questions about performances but with none of that indoor activity happening it's been kind of a different month. It's been a lot of waiting for me as opposed to what I'm used to doing," Massar said.

First Night Portsmouth 2022 logo
First Night Portsmouth 2022 logo (Pro Portsmouth)

Lots of Questions From the Public

Massar said that even though Pro Portsmouth's website is very clear about what is going on she's still getting questions that don't apply to the event and have not in years.

"A good example would be 'you don't say anything about fireworks at midnight.' We haven't done fireworks at midnight since 2000. I can't help people that don't know stuff like that," Massar said. "You say what you're doing and at some point people have to read it and go 'this is what they're doing.'"

The city of Portsmouth is offering a flat rate of $3 to park at the Foundry Garage between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. Friday night. Parrott Avenue will a "Fireworks Safety Zone" with no parking on Friday 9 a.m. - 9 p.m. Cars will be towed at the owner’s expense.

First Night Map
First Night 2022 Map (Pro Portsmouth)

Making the Right Decision

In hindsight Massar said she believes she made the right decision for what this year's event will look like given the current winter surge in cases.

"I'm glad we did what we did as opposed to thinking we could go ahead with indoor things and then having to cancel. That would have been awful," Massar said.

She's just happy to be able to have any kind of celebration to ring in the new year.

"We're hoping people come out and they're safe and they're safe in terms of driving here and driving home. If they're going to gather that we are all respectful of one another's space that night and hopefully when the clock chimes midnight and we turn that calendar we can look forward to a year that's better than the last two," Massar said.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNH

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