BRISTOL - Ringing in the New Year at the crack of noon Sunday inside Imagine Nation, An Early Learning Center, were families from across Connecticut.
Confetti cascaded down from the top floor as the clock struck twelve, showering a crowd of cheering kids and their parents. Visitors gazed up as the “ball” fell from the ceiling, lingering in the enchantment of it all.
Siblings Mia, Lorraine and Andrew Rengifo filled plastic buckets with the glittering paper shreds and chased each other around. Soon all three were coated in confetti from head to toe.
“This is amazing,” their father, Walter Rengifo, said, watching the hijinks. “It’s at the perfect time for kids because they can’t stay up as late to party like the adults.”
Upstairs in the art studio that morning, kids designed their own noisemakers and party hats. Miss Bristol led the crowd in bidding 2017 farewell by singing “Auld Lang Syne.” The bittersweet lyrics could be found on the back of activity pamphlets handed out at the door.
People came from near and far for the museum’s New Year celebration, featuring traditions from all over the globe.
In Denmark, as visitors discovered, front doors are swung open on the first of January to reveal a heap of shattered plates. Only on the doorsteps of the most well-liked people, that is.
“It means you have a lot of friends,” museum development director Doreen Stickney explained.
She and fellow staff members demonstrated this and other practices taking place on the last day of the year and first day of the subsequent year.
Visitors learned about a Japanese ritual of ringing a bell 108 times, thought to bring good luck to all who take part.
In Mexico there is outdoor frolicking with suitcases, signifying the following year’s traveling adventures.
This marked the museum’s 12th New Year celebration.
“It’s important for kids to see how children across the world celebrate,” Stickney said. “It’s a wonderful family event we look forward to every year.”
Manchester resident Carolyn Mello brought along her 3-year-old son and 2-week-old daughter.
“We’ve never been here before,” she pointed out. “It’s nice.”
A disc jockey cranked out popular hits at the back of the center. Parents with babies bounced them in their arms, chanting the words. Saviah Kudsen, 11, and her sister Liviana, 8, swung each other around the dance floor.
“We’re having a lot of fun,” Saviah shouted over the loud music.
Traversing the party wearing red polo shirts and big smiles were young volunteers, ensuring fun was being had by all.
“We got to throw the confetti,” said Noah Gilbert, 12. “We have the satisfaction of helping everyone here out.”
As the day’s activities wound down the youth helpers discussed their plans for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, since today is a holiday from school.
“I’m going to stay up until the ball drops and then probably fall asleep,” said Savannah Jones, 12, of Terryville.
Imagine Nation has a full slate of family events planned through the winter. Highlights include a Storybook Adventure Jan. 13, Happy Hearts Scavenger Hunt Feb. 10 and Teddy Bear Health Clinic March 10.
Erica Schmitt can be reached at 860-801-5097, or firstname.lastname@example.org.