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Kids get in on the festivities

New Year's Eve, it seems, is for adults.

For one thing, the peak of excitement is at midnight. And for another, the usual trappings are alcohol and kisses.

But at the Hands On Children’s Museum, it’s always about the kids – and today is no exception. The museum greets the new year 12 hours early during its annual Noon Year’s Eve celebration.

“What we hear from families is that they really love the opportunity to celebrate the new year with their children,” said museum director Patty Belmonte. “Typically, in our culture, New Year’s celebrations are focused around adults.

The sixth annual celebration is themed around international symbols of luck and prosperity.

“Throughout the world, that is what New Year’s signifies for most people,” said Kimberlee Hummel, the museum’s education director. “They are preparing to have a good year and more prosperity in the new year.”

Some of the crafts and activities will be related to the new year. Children will make red lanterns like those used to celebrate the Lunar New Year in China. “The color red for the Chinese symbolizes good luck,” Hummel said. “The children will make lanterns and learn about how the lanterns are used in China.”

Others are more about luck in general. Children can make shooting star wands, celebrating the tradition of wishing on a shooting star. They’ll also make acorn prints; in Europe, acorns are carried for luck.

Besides the crafts, the event will include winter-themed activities for toddlers (think cotton-ball snow and pale blue modeling dough with glitter), carnival games and a party menu of pastries, cheese and crackers, fruit and juice.

“The carnival games will follow the theme,” Hummel said. “We’ll have a rabbit-in-the-moon ring toss. We’ll have horseshoes. We’ll have a game where you catapult dolls into a wishing fountain.

“The museum will be transformed for the afternoon,” she said.

The museum’s popular Dr. Science character will have a new show about wind and pneumatics with performances at 11 a.m. and 12:30 and 1:30 p.m.

And, of course, there’s the countdown, which happens promptly at noon. This year, the Noon Year will be celebrated with noisemakers and confetti cannons.

“Sometimes we have people arrive after noon and ask, ‘When’s the countdown?’” Belmonte said. “We only do it once.”

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