Detroit celebrates New Year's early for the kids

Shawn D. Lewis
The Detroit News

Detroit — It had all the makings of a New Year's Eve celebration except for a midnight clock strike. But that's because that would have been past many of the guests' bedtimes.

Beacon Park on Monday celebrated the new year early so that young families could partake in the partying. 

“We haven’t really celebrated New Year's Eve in the past couple of years because of the kids,” said Katie Jones, 29, of Macomb Township. “So we were looking for something family-friendly, where we could still meet their bedtime.”

Jones and her husband, Ben, 32, were in tow with sons Walter, 2, and Arlo, 11 months. Ben added: “It’s definitely a good idea because it ends early ... We probably won’t see midnight, either.”

People exit the large tent at the New Year's Eve Kids Countdown at Beacon Park in Detroit on Dec. 31, 2018.

Earlier in the day, festivities got underway at a cavernous white tent on Grand River and Cass. Inside, a huge net hung from the ceiling containing pastel-colored balloons.

Outside, a steady dreary rain did not dampen spirits as a packed crowd inside listened to music from DJs spinning Bruno Mars among other artists. Revelers enjoyed making crafts, taking free photos in a photo booth and munching on treats.

Children were treated to face-painting and also making crafts.

If this is the success organizers hope, it may become a regular New Year's Eve event.

“With the success of this experience, we hope it will become a regular part of the calendar of events,” said  Njia Kai, who produces special events for the Downtown Detroit Partnership.

The free, family event took root at its current location after the New Year’s Eve celebration in Detroit had been held at Campus Martius for several years. There was no ball drop at Campus Martius this year as organizers there look to 2020 celebrations to revive the event.

Detroit’s newest public park, which opened July 20, 2017, features year-round programming and interactive light installations, as well as a full-service restaurant and bar, Lumen.

Financed by DTE Energy Co., it is located near DTE’s headquarters. It is operated by the Downtown Detroit Partnership.

Four generations of the Collins family celebrated inside the tent on Monday. They ranged in age from one to 61.

Great-grandmother Marilyn Collins, 61, of Detroit, said she cherished the opportunity to bring in the new year with family.

"I wanted to spend quality time with the kids, instead of having them cooped up inside in front of the television," she said.

"And we get to do crafts, too," said Collins, as she worked on decorating a miniature frame that will eventually hold her resolutions.

Her No. 1 resolution?

"To be happy with family," she said.