Bringing in a New Year at noon: Kent County library tradition continues

DOVER — There was no champagne toast offered and it wasn’t the middle of the night.

However, that didn’t take away the excitement from all of the children’s wide eyes as they excitedly counted down to 2017 as the noon hour approached at the Kent County Public Library’s “Under the Sea” Winter Carnival on Saturday morning.

“5, 4, 3, 2, 1 … Happy New Year!,” they all shouted in unison. There was a little bit of trouble with the initial balloon drop, but it was nothing that a quick tug on the net that was holding them couldn’t fix.

This was a time for making magical memories with family and friends.

“It was fun,” said Juliana Diaz, 12. “I really enjoyed all of the activities.”

That’s exactly what Deb Lawhead and Hilary Welliver — co-coordinators of the fifth-annual event – like to hear.

“We do this once a year because we decided that there wasn’t anything for the children to do during New Year’s Eve since First Night went away,” Ms. Lawhead said. “So we decided to pick up the ball and run with it and provide some entertainment so parents can bring their kids out to celebrate New Year’s Eve.

“Every year we’ve sold out. It’s very well attended and I think the parents really love bringing out their kids because it gives them all something to do.”

There was plenty for families to see and do at the Kent County Public Library on Saturday.

Historical actress Mary Ann Jung, from Baltimore, got the day started with her portrayal of Grace O’Malley, The Pirate Queen.

There was also a dulcimer demo, storytellers, a Hawaiian shirt contest, science demonstrations and Duet Productions production of “Peter Pan.”

Children were also kept busy throughout the three-hour program with plenty of arts and crafts to make, a Camden Wyoming Fire Company fire truck to tour, several mascots to hug and a 3-D printer demonstration to see.

But there was just something about all of those balloons hanging from the ceiling that really piqued their interest.

“This is just a lot of fun,” Ms. Welliver said. “I think that people are looking for things to do with their family on this last holiday of the entire year – we’re celebrating something that’s ending and something that’s starting.

“We change the theme every year. We try to pick things that will be exciting and engaging. This year with ‘Under the Sea’ we were able to do pirates, mermaids and Spongebob Squarepants. We were able to do Hawaaian dancing and have steel drums.”

Ms. Welliver said “Under the Sea” was just a natural theme for the New Year’s celebration.

“In Delaware, the whole boundary on one side is a beach and, of course, there’s a fascination with all things water, both under and above it,” she said. “So we thought this was a perfect theme for this year.”

At 11:55 a.m., Joey Moran played Auld Lang Syne on the bagpipes and Levy Court Commissioner George “Jody” Sweeney thanked everyone for coming before the big moment had arrived.

Suddenly, following the countdown, the balloons were dropped to the floor, leading to shrieks of delight and then about a 10-minute balloon popping session.

“I thought it was great,” said Jagger Clifford, 6. “I really enjoyed watching the play (Peter Pan).”

Isabella Helmer, 6, said “I thought it was awesome. The play part was my favorite.”

For these children, 2016 ended with one memorable day at the library – and 2017 remains wide open with vast possibilities.

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