The festival begins about noon and ends with fireworks over the harbor at midnight. There is no alcohol. In all the years we attended, the worst behavior we saw was a teenager climbing a tree to see the fireworks. A policeman made him climb down because the tree was too small to support his weight. Everyone is polite, enjoying the art, music, theater and camaraderie.
Despite the crowds, no one pushes you, and no one uses foul language; it is just lots of people, including families with small children, out to enjoy a great day in the city. When the fireworks are over, the subway is kept open late, and buses are lined up so everyone can head home. No one hangs around drinking, shooting each other, destroying property, etc.
Why is it that Boston and other cities around the country (see firstnightusa.com) can do this year after year, but a small city such as Augusta cannot manage to put on First Fridays without drunken behavior, destruction of property and shootings?