THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Flakes add a First Night sparkle

Many ringing in 2010 say dusting enhances the fun

A tiny member of Dynasty Productions Inc. of Mattapan took part in the First Night parade in Boston, part of the 34th annual celebration of the arts and culture festival that has become a model for similar celebrations worldwide. A tiny member of Dynasty Productions Inc. of Mattapan took part in the First Night parade in Boston, part of the 34th annual celebration of the arts and culture festival that has become a model for similar celebrations worldwide. (Essdras M Suarez/Globe Staff)
By Milton J. Valencia and Emma R. Stickgold
Globe Staff | Globe Correspondent / January 1, 2010

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A graceful dusting of snow helped ring in the new year in scenic seasonal form last night, a perfect punctuation of the decade, as hundreds of thousands reveled in Boston’s First Night celebrations.

Revelers sampled arts and crafts displays scattered throughout downtown, took in the Metro Boston Grand Procession, and oohed and aahed to a fireworks show on Boston Common that brought tens of thousands of onlookers to a standstill.

Families and couples, young and old, marveled at the dazzling sky in a grand welcome of 2010, as the colorful explosions reflected off the snow and the ice sculptures that dotted Boston Common.

“I think that was the best one we have ever seen,’’ said Kelly Fabiniac, standing at the Common with her husband and 9-year-old daughter. “Every year they add new tricks. It was just beautiful.’’

Mayor Thomas M. Menino braved a busted knee to join in the festivities, albeit by riding a horse-drawn carriage,

“It’s important to greet people in the new year,’’ a cheerful mayor said as his carriage led the grand procession, which started at the Hynes Convention Center, wound its way toward the Common, and culminated with the fireworks salute.

Across the state New Year’s Eve brought similar jubilation. In Northampton, residents tried to ease their minds from a series of arsons by celebrating with fireworks and dances. Thousands toasted the new year in Worcester, and planned to watch the ball drop from Times Square on a projection screen at the Worcester Common. As they took in their fireworks show, some must have uttered a word of thanks to Polar Beverages, which provided the last-minute funding that allowed the show to go on.

And in Chatham, revelers watched as a sculpture of a fish, called Countdown Cod, was hoisted, with plans to watch it descend as a digital clock ticked off the final seconds of 2009. A celebratory bonfire lit up the night sky at Oyster Pond, and a noisemaker’s parade shook the town’s tony capes.

“We’re having a great time,’’ Pam Patton, chairwoman of Chatham’s festivities, said last night.

Yesterday’s sleet and snow did nothing but accentuate the feel of a true winter’s night, as temperatures in Boston settled to comfortable low 30s. Families found their way through the 200 exhibitions and 1,000 artists’ displays. The hot chocolate flowed. It was the 34th annual celebration of the arts and culture festival that has become a model for similar celebrations worldwide.

“It’s very festive,’’ said Joyce Linehan, an organizer. She said a million people were expected to make their way to the celebrations; hotels in the area said they were booked, and that they had run out of their passes for the event.

Linehan said she heard a few Pennsylvania accents last night, among the thousands of Philadelphia Flyers fans expected to attend today’s NHL Winter Classic hockey matchup with the Boston Bruins at Fenway Park.

Last night’s upbeat celebration contrasted with the drowsy festivities of last year, soured by frigid temperatures and storms throughout the night. Some fireworks shows across the state had been canceled because of the weather, and about 300,000 people attended the Boston celebration.

Organizers had higher hopes for this year. The day began at 1 p.m. with a kid-friendly Fedex Family Festival at the Hynes Convention Center, and other events included a Chinatown dance company, puppet shows, storytellers, and rock and blues bands.

The pushcart items of the year were 2010 joke eyeglasses, worn by many revelers, and stadium horns, seemingly tooted by everyone. Vendor Tommy Sutcliffe could tell it was going to be a good year.

“It was slow at first, but then it picked up,’’ he said.

The events impressed Mike Argentieri, a 29-year-old Washington, D.C., transplant, now living in Maine.

“It’s much livelier than what I’m used to,’’ he said.

Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis said last night that past First Nights have proven to be fun-filled and crime free, but that extra patrols were in the streets to conduct alcohol enforcement.

The day’s quick two-inch snowfall caused brief fears of transportation chaos. Roads were slick, leading to scattered accidents throughout the day, state and local police reported. The soggy conditions turned the Common into a mess of mush and puddles. But the muck couldn’t keep people away.

Craig and Helena Jones of Sagamore Beach have come to the event for years, first as singles and now as a family with their daughter, Maren, 3 1/2, and son, Rees, just over a year old. Their resolutions? To be healthy, and save memories.

While event-goers resolved in the new year to be healthy, quit smoking, finish their education, or be more environmentally friendly, others reflected on a decade that began with the fear of computer glitches that would start at the new century, the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and the entertainment phenomenon known as Harry Potter.