By Nathan Mayberg
MONTICELLO January 4, 2005 Dozens of families celebrated the coming of 2005 in Monticello and Liberty in joyous fashion Friday evening.
The largest celebration was in Monticello, where First Night, an international alcohol- and drug-free affair organized by many local volunteers, put forth a wide arrangement of events for local families to enjoy.
Young children enjoyed jumping in inflatables, playing roulette for toys and other games at the BOCES St. John Street Education Center.
At St. Johns Episcopal Church, families were treated to the highly talented duo of violinist Erin Slaver and her father John Slaver on guitar. The team played many bluegrass songs, including Vassar Clements Lonesome Fiddle Blues, and songs by Mollie Mason and Jay Unger, a local songwriting team.
The Monticello Gymnastics Club showed off its skills, as did the Bronx Opera.
Dozens of people marched down Broadway, some on highly decorated floats. Afterwards, a large bonfire set up by the Monticello Volunteer Fire Department kept the revelers warm as they watched fireworks explode in front of the Government Center.
Roberta Lockwood, president and CEO of the Sullivan County Visitors Association and a leading organizer of the festivities, said she was proud of the hard work that so many volunteers gave to make the night a success. In particular, she mentioned Daytop, which she said continues to be an asset for community events.
She was also thankful for the long list of sponsors, including the Sullivan County Legislature. Several of the legislators were in attendance.
Although she was pleased with the enthusiasm of the performers that night, she wished more people had shown up.
In Liberty, the annual dropping of the Liberty bell at the Liberty Museum and Arts Center royally rung in the new year.
In the final minutes leading up to midnight, dozens of revelers popped out of nowhere to turn up the intensity of the night.
Ed Washington played music that had some of the crowd dancing in the middle of Main Street.
The event was sponsored by the museum and the Greater Liberty Chamber of Commerce.
Commerce President Ron Gozza and Town of Liberty Supervisor Frank DeMayo (who served as master of ceremonies) all said the celebration went well.
For some, the new year may be a wonderful tradition but also serves as the beginning of tax season, said former candidate for United States Representative William Brenner, who called the night at Liberty a monumental event.
Of course, the Grahamsville native happens to run an income tax preparation business . . .