First Night Boston returns with music, fireworks and vaccines

New Years revelers in Boston on Friday night got to see fireworks, hear live music and roll up their sleeves for COVID-19 vaccines and reminders.

The annual First Night festival – back after being canceled by the pandemic last year – included a mobile clinic where revelers could get the jab. A Whittier Street Health Center vaccine van parked in Copley Square, among food trucks throwing corn dogs and fried dough.

Frederica Williams, chief executive of the health center, thinks it was a smart strategy to offer vaccines in a place that people may have indulged in before deciding to live healthier lives in 2022.

“We wanted to be here because people are ushering in the New Year and making New Year resolutions,” she said. “And we wanted that to be part of the New Year’s resolutions that people make.”

The final vaccine count for the night was not immediately available, but the van drew a long line.

Nearby, bright hats and glitzy glasses festooned a tent where Henry Gardner sold New Years Eve loot. He said crowds were large at similar festivals he worked at throughout the holiday season.

“Corn [the state] such a high number arrived on the COVID count yesterday, ”he said, referring to the 21,137 positive cases reported on December 30, a single-day record in Massachusetts.

Gardner predicted that some people might stay home – even though they were excited about the return of First Night and hope 2022 is the year the pandemic is fully under control.

Ken and Elana Jones were not discouraged. But they hadn’t planned to stay until midnight.

“We’re not the revelers we used to be,” Ken Jones said, adding a joke about turning 30.

The Dorchester couple brought their 2-year-old son, sporting a “2022” wreath he made from construction paper in kindergarten, to view ice sculptures.

“I always went to First Night as a kid,” Elana Jones said. “So when I found out they were having celebrations this year, I wanted to release it.”

Younger Jones may not remember Friday’s outing, but his parents said it was special for them after a few rough years.

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