People brave frigid temps to celebrate Portsmouth's First Night

Union Leader Correspondent
December 31. 2017 7:18PM
Jeff Day, of Ice Designs, works on Portsmouth's First Night sculpture in Market Square Sunday. He said it was too cold for ideal ice sculpting. (KIMBERLEY HAAS/Union Leader Correspondent)

Maska and Stan Phang, who live in New York City, were bundled up for First Night in Portsmouth Sunday.

PORTSMOUTH – People braved the frigid temperatures Sunday to participate in First Night Portsmouth.

It was less than 10 degrees out at 5:30 p.m.

Allen and Veronica Shelly of Rochester were dressed in layers and equipped with hand warmers. This was the first year the couple participated in First Night activities.

"?It seemed really exciting online with lots of things to do. I think the cold is actually exciting,"? Veronica Shelly said.

Chris and Kim Piela of Rye were in Market Square with Aidan, 9, and Stella, 10. Aidan and Stella said that for 2018, they are looking forward to a trip to Hawaii during February school vacation.

Ricky Pickering, a Newington native who now lives in Boston, was downtown with Jennifer DiNuccio. She hopes to pass the Massachusetts Bar Exam in 2018 and get into securities regulation.

Pickering and DiNuccio also were dressed in layers and had wine and cheese to snack on.

Sculptor Jeff Day, of Ice Designs, said it was actually too cold for his preferences. He was busy finishing the First Night ice sculpture in Market Square around 4 p.m.

"?It's really cold today. It's not really what we like. We like it a lot warmer than this. We like it cold for sure, but we like 15 to 20 degrees,"? Day said. "?Today, I stopped torching (the sculpture) because it's like putting ice cubes in a warm soda, that's what's going to happen to the ice. And then, it doesn't look good at all. So, we're just going to kind of let it be and let it go from there."?

In nearby Hampton, officials cancelled the fireworks due to ice and cold. In Boston, First Night coordinators cancelled some of the family-friendly events because of frigid temperatures and a concern for public safety.

Barbara Massar, executive director at Pro Portsmouth, said she felt a special responsibility for keeping everyone participating in the annual, family-friendly event safe. Most of the activities are held inside, and Massar said they postponed the start of the Market Square street dance until 9 p.m. for the safety of the deejay.

Inside North Church, Lindsay Aucella and her puppets entertained families. Aucella said she has participated in First Night for seven years, and sees familiar faces in her audiences.

?"This is one of my favorite performances of the year,"? Aucella said after her first show.

Massar did not expect some of the outdoor activities to go forward. She said there would be fireworks as planned, but did not think the New Hampshire Astronomical Society would be able to set up their star gazing equipment due to the temperatures.

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