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Kids celebrate New Year with balloon drop

Karen Bouffard
The Detroit News

The excitement was palpable at the Detroit Historical Museum Saturday where hundreds of little Metro Detroiters brought in the New Year with a balloon drop at exactly 12 noon.

The event was among a flurry of New Year’s Eve activities across the city. The Drop, Detroit’s free New Years Eve celebration, was slated for 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. at the historic Campus Martius Park in Downtown Detroit.

Wearing shiny paper crowns and shaking clear plastic bottles stuffed with beans, beads and tinsel, children counted down the seconds until cords were pulled at the dot of noon, releasing a shower of brightly colored balloons on the museum’s downstairs concourse.

“We did something (to celebrate New Year’s) with the kids, not just the adults—plus it’s very nostalgic down here,” said Elena Fears, 35, of West Bloomfield, who brought her three-year-old daughter Naomi Fears-Williams. They were joined by Bryan Halfday, 36, and his son Bryce Halfday, 2.

“We’ll definitely do this again next year.”

The free event, which started at 10 a.m., included crafts projects, coloring, cookies and hot chocolate. Families browsed the museum’s sizable antique toy train exhibit, and peeked in the windows of a historic dime store, bicycle shop and drug store.

Six-year-old Ryder Gardner, of Dexter, colored a picture of two kids sledding down a snow-covered hill. His sister, Brynn Gardner, 3, helped stuff a bottle with tinsel.

“They said it was a noise-maker for here, but we’re going to use it to scare our cats at the house,” their father, Allen Gardner, 43, joked.

Alexis Draper, event operations coordinator for the Detroit Historical Society, said the annual New Year’s balloon drop moved to the Detroit Historical Museum last year. It was previously held on Belle Isle at the Dossin Great Lakes Museum.

“We had 800 to 900 people all within a two-hour time frame,” she said of Saturday’s celebration. “It was intense, but it’s a lot of fun.

“I think it’s a beautiful idea,” said Jerome Gilkey, 60, of Royal Oak, who brought two grand kids, his sister-in-law and her three young daughters. “It’s good for the kids, good for Detroit, the whole nine yards.”

Following the balloon drop, Marc and Lori Sokacz, of Macomb Township, headed to Campus Martius with their kids Cooper, 11, and Allison, 15. They planned to stay for the children’s activities, which lasted until 7 p.m., and then finish out the year at dinner with friends.

“We came down to the Historical Museum, ate at the HopCat and now we’re skating,” Marc Sokacz said as his son, Cooper, laced up his ice skates. “It’s a good day.”

Jasmine Campbell, 23, brought her son, five-year-old Connor Campbell, and her brother, Franklin Speed, 9.

“We’re waiting for the people with the face painting,” she said while toasting marshmallows at a fire pit near the skating rink. “They want to get their faces painted, then we’ll get a corn dog.”