Kids get jump on New Year’s

Hands On Children’s Museum, more than 600 revelers welcome 2013

jpawloski@theolympian.comJanuary 1, 2013 

Olympia’s Hands On Children’s Museum kicked off its New Year’s celebration 12 hours early with a “Noon Year’s Eve Party” Monday that brought in more than 600 children and parents for a countdown to watch a papier-mache luminary ball drop from the second-floor rafters.

“It’s an opportunity to celebrate the new year together as a family,” museum director of operations and education Anna Sayre said of the annual event.

The celebration at the museum’s new $18.5 million facility on Jefferson Street was so crowded that the museum’s staffers and volunteers scheduled a second ball drop at 12:30 p.m., museum education program coordinator Marcie Pickett-Johnson said. Pickett added that the museum was filled to its 630-visitor capacity.

Visitors said the experience of celebrating New Year’s with their children at the museum’s new building was “amazing.”

“I love it. We’re thrilled to be here,” said Marci McKay, who was at the event with her partner and their 7-year-old daughter.

“It’s so spacious,” parent Amanda Von Jentzen said as her 3-year-old son, Lucas, played on the second floor. “The cool thing about this museum here is that no matter now many kids are here, it’s still roomy.”

Children frolicked through the museum’s grounds — riding down the “stream slide,” and into the Puget Sound Gallery on the first floor, where children explored a two-story cargo ship and crawled underneath it to see a replicated underwater world, complete with jellyfish and a giant octopus. The theme of the New Year’s celebration was glowing objects, Pickett-Johnson said, including an interactive light display that projected light patterns on the floor, which could be manipulated by touch.

The museum also offered free face painting. In one activity room, children made noisemakers, necklaces and ribbon-streamers for when they counted down for the ball drop at noon. In another activity room, children made glowing bead fireflies.

Parent Becca Benge said it was her second visit to the new museum with her 2-year-old son and 1-year-old daughter. The family drove in from Yelm.

“It’s worth it for them to get a couple of hours of play and socialize,” she said.

Eight-year-old Christian Carufel, who was enjoying a snack in the museum cafe with his mother and brother Monday afternoon, also gave the celebration a thumbs-up.

“It’s the best place on Earth,” he said.

Jeremy Pawloski: 360-754-5445

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