Kent County Recreation Center helps families celebrate new year


Evelyn Stewart, 3, participates in a martial arts demonstration by Yoon’s Martial Arts during a News Years celebration at the Kent County Recreation Center on Saturday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

DOVER — Jeremy Sheppard, director of the Kent County Recreation Center, knows how difficult it can be to try to get a new tradition started.

That’s why he was so happy to see a couple hundred parents and their children brave cold temperatures and some icy roads to take part in the inaugural New Year’s Eve Celebration at the Recreation Center on Saturday afternoon.

“We had more than 100 people pre-register, which is great for a first-time event and it looks like we are having a lot of people come in off the streets, which is even better,” Mr. Sheppard said on Saturday afternoon.

“In the Dover area, getting any new event started is really word of mouth no matter how much advertising you try to do. It’s still word of mouth and anything new, well, you’ve got to get it started at some point.”

The Kent County Recreation Center staff got its new tradition started at noon by offering arts and crafts, a disc jockey with dancing, three huge inflatables, basketball, volleyball, food — and of course, the popular event-ending New Year’s countdown and balloon drop at 4 p.m.

Parents and grandparents were appreciative of the opportunity to get their young ones out of the house and moving around on Saturday.

“Anything for our future, for them to come, is awesome,” said Dover’s Carmela Powell, who brought nine children, including four grandkids, to the event.

Joshua James provided music for the celebration and enjoyed getting the chance to see families enjoy counting down the new year — if it was a day early and in the afternoon — together.

Tori Adams with Yoon’s Martial Arts hits during a demonstration at the Kent County Recreation Center on Saturday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

“I think it’s a fantastic idea that they can put on an event for kids and adults for New Year’s Eve that they can attend together and have a good time,” he said. “This also helps me promote my DJ business, so it’s a win-win for everyone.”

Mr. Sheppard said the inaugural New Year’s event at the Kent County Recreation Center was a two-pronged idea. He hoped people could enjoy the party and get the chance to look around the facility.

“We hope that people can come in and look at the space and see the different kinds of activities that are available to them and then at a future date make use of it,” said Mr. Sheppard. “We’re actually selling food for the first time and we’ve got a lot of good stuff going on.”

Alana Stewart helps her daughter Vivian, 5, with arts and crafts during a News Years celebration at the Kent County Recreation Center on Saturday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Magnolia’s Amanda Graham headed into the New Year’s Celebration with a friend and kids in tow.

“I love Kent County Parks and Recreation,” she said. “It’s a very nice event here. It’s not too crowded and a nice little family event that they’ve got going on. We’re really looking forward to the balloon drop.”

The only problem with the celebratory balloon drop — it meant the end of the inaugural New Year’s Celebration at the Kent County Recreation Center for many tired families. And the beginning of a new year.

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