Friends at Kent County Public Library President Deb Lawhead led the crowd of more than 200 people into the countdown to high noon Monday as part of the New Year's Eve Winter Carnival held for local children too young to stay up for the midnight ball drop on TV.
"All right, everybody," Lawhead said after three hours of entertainment for scores of children ended with magician Willy Woo Woo's last trick. "Let's get our glasses ready and let's get our noisemakers ready. And don't forget; we're going to say Happy New Year. … Five, four, three, two, one."
With that, the large net of balloons was released, albeit after a snafu or two, and children ran from all corners of the Kent County Library to grab balloons for themselves.
Kent County Library in collaboration with Friends of Kent County Public Library held the inaugural Winter Carnival to allow children to ring in the New Year with plenty of games, crafts and activities with their parents, grandparents, siblings and friends. There were also roving costumed characters, music, a juggler, a mime and a cheerleading display by the Polytech High School varsity cheer squad.
Among those entertained by it all were Bruce Cordova, of Magnolia, and his granddaughters, Vera Cordova, 5, of Magnolia, and Madison Skelley, 4, of Harrington.
"I liked the balloon part," Skelley said.
"I liked the fur of the bunny rabbit," Cordova said. She was referring to how Willy Woo Woo (magician Michael Cox) made a rabbit appear after children pretended to throw fur at him.
"It was an exciting way for the two girls to spend the day and end the year," Bruce Cordova said. "I think it was a great event."
Karie and Bryon Twardus, of Felton, brought their son, Owen, 5, and daughter, Abby, 3, to the Winter Festival. The parents had just as much fun as the children ringing in New Year's Day early, Karie Twardus said.
"I think they did a great job," she said. "It was very well planned. They had the different stations and activities going on. They kept the kids entertained the whole time; they weren't bored at all."
Page 2 of 2 - "The best part was that it was cheap," Bryon Twardus said. "It wasn't overpriced. It was something to do."
Jodi Farrington, of Dover, brought her children, Irelynn, 7, and Aidan, 5, to the festival, along with the children's grandmother, Debi Sebesta.
"There's not many things for the kids to do for New Year's Eve," Jodi Farrington said. "They used to have the First Night and now there is nothing. And they're in bed by eight o'clock. So, doing this was wonderful."
Kent County Levy Court Commissioner George "Jody" Sweeney was glad to hear it. He praised The Friends of Kent County Library and Library Director Hilary Welliver for their hard work to pull the event off.
"They bring people in," he said. "If you come in here and walk out with a book, they've done their job."
Lawhead agreed that the inaugural Winter Festival was a great success. She said the Friends of Kent County Library would hold the event again next year.
"It gave somewhere for the moms and kids out of school somewhere to go so that they could celebrate New Year's now," she said. "And parents could go out later on tonight."