Earlier this year it looked like First Night Westport/Weston wouldn't happen. Funding was scarce, and last year's event raised very little money because it drew such a small crowd. Wind and snow kept people from making it to downtown Westport for the annual event, so only about half the expected number showed up.

Many in the area worried throughout the fall, waiting to see if the 16th annual event would actually happen this year, and because of the resourcefulness of its organizers, it will be back this Dec. 31.

Like everything else lately, the event has been scaled back in the interest of economizing. It'll end a little earlier (9 p.m. instead of midnight), but there will still be plenty to do between 3 and 9 p.m. A multitude of musicians will provide a backdrop for a variety of activities, including square dancing, face-painting, an inflatable park and many other activities (all within walking distance). All this will be available to patrons who pay a reduced $10 entry fee. The night will conclude with a fireworks display (already paid for since last year's display was cancelled) and for the younger crowd, a Battle of the Bands at Toquet Hall at 11:30 p.m. (See related story for more information.)

First Night Westport/Weston has always offered area residents an outlet for safe, sober fun on New Year's Eve, a night notoriously linked with an overindulgence of unsafe party activities.

New Year's Eve is also seen as an adult's holiday -- for them to eat, drink and be merry until the wee hours of the morning. Teenagers, left unsupervised, have found ways of entertaining themselves on this night, sometimes dabbling in activities beyond the legal parameters. First Night provides a safe way for parents, teenagers, and even the little ones to have a good time together.

We're glad that the organizers, Allen Bomes, Suzanne Adams, P. Gavin Arnet, Ed Fitzgerald, Bill Meyer, Barbara Pearson-Rac and Frank Rac -- along with many volunteers -- were able to pull together this event yet again, and we sincerely hope that this year the weather will be more cooperative, as repayment for all the hard work these people did.

This year's performers were so committed to the event that they even offered their services at a reduced cost, and for that we thank them, too.

Those interested in attending can purchase buttons at the Westport Public Library, Westport YMCA, Trader Joe's, Oscar's Deli, Ace Hardware in Weston and the Westport Senior Center.

For more information, or to see an updated list of First Night events, visit www.firstnightww.com.