For the first time in nearly 30 years, Providence is skipping an official New Year’s Eve celebration.

The decision halts a 27-year tradition of a major New Year’s Eve festival in Providence that began in 1985 when the city sponsored First Night Providence to kick off the 350th anniversary of Rhode Island’s founding.

Funding shortfalls led to the cancellation of First Night in 2003. A coalition of local performers and artists organized Bright Night Providence, a scaled-down alternative revived the festivities.

Alexandra Kreher, director of the festival, told The Providence Journal that funding has declined over the past five years, reflecting the weak economy.

Lynne McCormack, director of the Mayor’s Office of Arts, Culture and Tourism, says the Bright Night cancellation is unfortunate but says New Year’s Eve could still draw crowds downtown.

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