Ringing in the New Year with a SPLASH!


There’s nothing quite like winter in New England. And there’s nothing quite like lighting an outdoor event in winter in New England. Especially…in the center of one of Boston’s busiest public walkways. From noon to midnight. On New Year’s Eve. When weather conditions can range from polar vortex to monsoon and temperatures plunge further once the sun goes down.

Midnight Fireworks Port Lighting Systems First Night Boston 2019.jpg

We’re talking, of course, about First Night Boston 2019—New England’s biggest New Year’s celebration—and we were thrilled when Conventures, Inc. invited us to return to their New Year’s Eve team, lighting Copley Square’s festivities.

Our goal was to bring energy and excitement to this hub of New Year’s revelry, adding dynamic color to the Around The World Ice Pavilion, the mainstage in front of Trinity Church Boston, the facades of the surrounding buildings, and the midnight countdown clock.

As veterans of First Night Boston and other outdoor events, we knew the secret to our success would be carefully selecting our equipment and crew. We tapped team members with experience lighting in all weather conditions, and chose a combination of outdoor-rated fixtures, equipment designed to protect fixtures from the elements, and back-up gear should anything fail.

Mother Nature did not disappoint—sheets of water rained down on our experienced First Night team during the first day of load-in (as we simultaneously took great care to keep the public safely out of our high-traffic work zone), and the skies opened again with gusto during the celebration itself on New Year’s Eve. Our strategic planning paid off: not one piece of equipment faltered due to weather.

Through the downpour that ended that last night of 2018, our spectrum of color uplit Copley Square’s installation of ice sculptures thanks to 64 of our new, energy-efficient Astera AX5 IP65-rated LEDs. IP, or Ingress Protection, indicates how shielded a fixture is—the six means it’s 100% dust-impermeable, and the five means it can withstand jets of water from any direction. That rating was a great call, since the Astera AX5s (and a few intermingled color-changing LED Christmas Trees, custom-made from IP65-rated Minleon Light Tubes) wound up in an 8-inch soup of mud, rain, and ice.

To create unique looks for each act on the mainstage and keep the scene visually interesting through eight hours of performances, our lighting design featured a variety of beam and wash fixtures set against a curtain backdrop constructed from strings of IP65-rated Minleon Tricklits. The Tricklit curtain created an ideal, low-resolution, video canvas to display the final countdown numbers just before midnight.

A dozen beam-effect Robe MegaPointe fixtures (made weatherproof by Claypaky Igloo Domes) installed on the roof of the Fairmont Copley projected colored displays across Copley Square through the festivities, and cast streams of light visible citywide when pointed skyward for the finale at midnight.

To ensure all lighting effects would display as described above, our Lighting Director, Nathan Mann spent a month pre-programming PC software for a GrandMA 2 Full-Size Control to minimize final onsite programming time. Aided by a GrandMA 2 Light Control running backup and a variety of other strategically placed, cutting-edge networking equipment, he worked with Programmer Patrick Richards to create a unified design using all fixtures across Copley Square during the countdown and midnight fireworks show—flawlessly managing over 30 DMX universes (or 15,360 channels) of data. 

From splashes of color to splashes of water, First Night 2019 was truly unforgettable. Huge thanks to our invaluable operations and warehouse crew for teeing up every detail for our onsite production team, to our full-time service technicians for meticulously inspecting, cleaning, and proactively maintaining our equipment every single day, to Matt Teuten for capturing and sharing these images, and especially, again, to Conventures, Inc. for bringing us aboard—we were honored to collaborate with you and the other talented vendors who made it all possible.

First Night Boston 2019 Port Lighting Team:

Kyle Stetson – Senior Production Manager

Graham Edmondson – Production Manager

Nathan Mann – Lighting Director and Concert Stage/Minleon String Programmer

Patrick Richards – Programmer (Everything else)

Justin Brown – Head Electrician (Freelance)

Kristie Woodard – Head Electrician (Freelance)

Emily Bearce – Head Electrician (Freelance)

Support Vendors:

Truss Structures – United Staging and Rigging (USR)
Rigging – USR
Selected Decking – USR
Generators – Capron