MORRIS – The countdown from 10 got louder and louder as it neared the end, and when the number one was shouted, 75 multicolored balloons dropped from a canopy near the ceiling, into the arms of 45 children, aged infant to fifth grade. Once the balloons settled, children scrambled to capture as many as they could, and when their little arms could not carry any more, they smiled in satisfaction.
“My favorite was chopping the balloons down because I just wanted to see how many I could pick up,” 4-year-old Archer Jensen of Morris said.
Archer, along with many friends of the Morris Area Public Library, took part in the free inaugural Noon Year’s Eve party from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Dec. 28.
Children’s department manager Jill Baetiong said she had heard of other libraries doing similar events, so she wanted to bring one to the Morris library.
“This gave the kids an opportunity to celebrate at a time doable for them,” Baetiong said.
That was the exact reason Abby Jensen of Morris brought her son, Archer, to the event.
“The kids always ask if they can stay up until midnight on New Year’s Eve, and I don’t even stay up that late. It’s a good way to celebrate and get the kids out of the house during the winter,” Abby said.
When the children arrived at 11:30 a.m., they quickly sat down to make noisemakers out of chip cans, dried beans, tape, markers and paper. Children’s department assistant Deyanira Reyes introduced the project, and after a few minutes, clanking noises were heard around the room.
Reyes and Baetiong knew each child by name and most of the children seemed to have a buddy or two in attendance.
Fifteen minutes before the noon balloon drop, Baetiong read “Is Everyone Ready for Fun?” and took the children to the dance floor and played interactive songs such as the “Hokey Pokey,” the “Chicken Dance Song,” “YMCA” by the Village People and line dances. Children giggled as they jumped, danced and fell on the floor. Some knew the steps and others just wanted to play.
But the peak of the event was the balloon drop at noon, when the kids rolled and dove in the balloons, and put all 75 in a parachute to fling them into the air and watch them float and come back down.
After the kids began to settle down, Reyes put out juice, cookies and crackers, and within minutes the children were refueled and ready to dance and play once again. Baetiong said she was happy with the turnout of the hour-long event, but may tweak it next year.
“We did an hour because we know that is the attention span of this age of kids. We will definitely do this again next year, and may change it to 45 minutes,” Baetiong said.