First Night Boston 2019: Ringing in the New Year with a Splash!

(Matt Teuten)

The team at Port Lighting was thrilled when Conventures, Inc. invited them to return to their New Year’s Eve team, lighting Copley Square’s festivities, for First Night Boston 2019—New England’s biggest New Year’s celebration.

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 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 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 New Year’s Eve celebration itself. Our strategic planning paid off: not one piece of equipment faltered due to weather.

New Years Eve Snowflake Gobos Boston Public Library Facade Port Lighting FIrst Night Boston 2019.jpg

Through the downpour that ended that last night of 2018, our spectrum of color uplit an installation of ice sculptures using 64 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 water jets from any direction. That rating was the perfect call, since the Astera AX5s (and a few 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.

We brought the façades of the adjacent Fairmont Copley Hotel and Boston Public Library (BPL) to life with an ever-changing palette of color, shapes, and patterns, using lighting fixtures chosen for bright output and deep hues.  

To project onto the BPL exterior, nine Robe BMFL fixtures with SelbyGuard Rain Roof XL outdoor covers hung from truss provided by United Staging and Rigging. The face of the Fairmont Copley danced with light from eight IP65-rated SGM G-Spots positioned on street-level truss.

A dozen
beam-effect Robe MegaPointe fixtures (made weatherproof by Claypaky Igloo Domes) installed on the Fairmont Copley roof projected color displays across Copley Square throughout the festivities, and cast skyward light beams visible citywide for the midnight finale.

To ensure all lighting effects would display as planned, Lighting Director Nathan Mann spent a month pre-programming software for a GrandMA 2 Full-Size Control to minimize final onsite time. Aided by other strategically placed, cutting-edge networking equipment, he worked with Programmer Patrick Richards to unify all fixtures across Copley Square during the midnight countdown and 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.

First Night Boston 2019 Port Lighting Team:

Kyle Stetson – Senior Production Manager
Graham Edmondson – Production Manager
Nathan Mann – Lighting Director and Programmer (Concert Stage/Minleon Strings)
Patrick Richards – Programmer (Everything else)
Justin Brown – Head Electrician (Freelance)
Kristie Woodard – Head Electrician (Freelance)
Emily Bearce – Head Electrician (Freelance)


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


Astera AX5 IP65-rated LEDs
IP65-rated Minleon Light Tubes
IP65-rated Minleon Tricklit strings

Robe BMFL fixtures
SelbyGuard Rain Roof XL outdoor covers
IP65-rated SGM G-Spots
Robe MegaPointe fixtures
Claypaky Igloo Domes
GrandMA 2 Full-Size Control

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