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Evans: Protesters Welcome, But Shouldn't Disrupt First Night Boston

BOSTON (CBS) – Crowds will flock to ring in the New Year on Wednesday during First Night Boston, a tradition that started in the city decades ago and continues to grow each year.

One wrinkle into this year's celebration is a planned protest of the recent deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. Protesters are reportedly planning to stage a "die-in" on First Night in Boston.

During a Tuesday press conference, officials addressed their preparations for the event.

Police Commissioner William Evans said police officers are ready for potential protests, and asked that participants keep the demonstrations respectful.

William Evans
Boston Police Commissioner William Evans addresses possible First Night protests. (WBZ-TV)

"We're going to accommodate the protesters if they choose to do so. But we will not let it disrupt the events. I can only appeal that if people are going to demonstrate, just realize there are a lot of young kids out there, a lot of families," said Evans.

"We're going to protect their right to demonstrate, and hopefully we can both make this event a successful event. First Night is a long tradition in the city. I hate to see anything spoil what is usual a great family fun night in the City of Boston."

Mayor Walsh
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh talks about the city's preparedness for First Night. (WBZ-TV)

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh echoed Evans' wishes, stressing that First Night is a family-friendly event.

"As mayor, I ask everyone who comes out tomorrow respect our police officers, respect their roles as keepers of peace in our city, and not distract them from their responsibility of keeping our families and our city safe," said Walsh at a Tuesday press conference.

Evans added that the city will have a zero tolerance policy against public drinking and public intoxication.

Visitors are encouraged to take public transportation to First Night. MBTA officials said there will be extended service for First Night.

From 3 p.m. until the end of service after 2 a.m., the MBTA offers rush hour service on the T rails. Commuter Rail trains will include late departures and additional services added.

No fares will be charged after 8 p.m. on MBTA rails.

Walsh told WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Carl Stevens that the city will "continue to strengthen First Night" this year and beyond.

"We have the parade, we have ice sculptures, we have fireworks, we have a light show. We have a lot of great things happening," said Walsh. "I think people should understand that we have a great First Night celebration here in the city of Boston. And I think it's important for our city to keep that going."

First Night Boston events are scheduled to take place throughout the day on Wednesday, with attractions geared for visitors of all ages.

Buttons for First Night cost $10 and provide admission to every show. Admission is free for children under four years old.

WBZ-TV is your First Night station. Tune in for complete coverage beginning at 11 p.m. on New Year's Eve.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Karen Twomey reports


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