New Year’s Eve festivities return to downtown Dover

DOVER — Early returns were promising, even with a steady rain falling outside.

About 50 kids were clearly excited as a new year approached.

With a magician in one room and a balloon artist in another, “oohs” and “aahs” broke up the typical quiet of the Dover Public Library.

The gathering kicked off the return of New Year’s Eve activities in the downtown area after almost a decade of Dec. 31 quiet.

The Capital City Countdown was on deck, with a ball drop scheduled for midnight.

Rosie Mujica grew up going to First Night events in the city and was motivated by the new generation’s arrival at the library. She orchestrated helping the kids make paper “2019” headbands just after 3 p.m. at a station near the front entrance.

“Downtown Dover is a great place to be, there’s a lot to do down here,” she said. “I’m all for revitalizing it and am happy to help out in my own little way.”

A magician for 22 years, Charlie Joseph was putting on his first New Year’s Eve show.

“I wasn’t sure if we’d have two people here or 200 million so I’m glad that we found somewhere in-between,” he said.

A Mobile Cloud Video Game Truck was parked outside the library, free hot chocolate available and a family movie planned at the Dover Art League, among other highlights. Wesley United Methodist Church provided a stop for arts and crafts and more hot chocolate.

There hadn’t been a New Year’s Eve downtown event since 2010. The First Night celebration was canceled in 2011 due to funding issues following 15 years of tradition.

“It’s a great opportunity to promote the downtown through fun activities in a good, wholesome environment,” he said. “Every new year is exciting, it’s like springtime, a chance for a re-birth.”

Several community organizations collaborated to plan kid-friendly events, along with the adult celebration (with the requisite food and spirits available) set to begin at 6 p.m.

“We’re sending the year out with a bang and welcoming in the new year into downtown,” said Tina Bradbury, operations manager for the Downtown Dover Partnership.

“We’re hoping that this will help re-energize the feeling in this area and a lot of people will buy into the idea that this is a great place to spend time at all times of the year.”

The DDP was joined by the city, library, Destination Downtown Dover and NCALL’s Restoring Central Dover in planning everything but the weather.

“What you see here today is something that we hope only continues to grow as more community organizations take part.”

After seeing a notice on Facebook, Caitlin Bushee was joined by her 3-year-old daughter Onalee and 5-year-old son Oakley in an early arrival to the magic show.

“We love the Dover Public Library and to see this excitement here is a lot of fun,” she said. “It’s familiar, it’s comfortable and it’s our go-to place, especially today.”

The Bushees will soon be moving to the Harrington area, but plan to return to Dover.

“There’s just a lot to do here, at the library and throughout the area,” Ms. Bushee said. “I’m not quite sure what we’ll find in Harrington, but I imagine we’ll make regular trips here.”

According to Tailisha McNair, with her two preschoolers nearby, efforts to generate excitement in downtown were well worth it.

“They need it here big time,” she said just prior to the magic show’s launch.

 

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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