“10-9-8 … ” Allyson Checki, 6, counted down as the giant ball began to rise toward the top of a pole that would signal the start of a New Year.
As the ball reached the top, she and hundreds of other Toledo-area children burst into ear-piercing squeals of “Happy New Year.” Their cheers were greeted by a shower of colorful confetti and the sound of “Auld Lang Syne” blaring through outdoor speakers.
The early New Year’s Eve festivities at the Toledo Zoo from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday provided parents with an opportunity to celebrate with their children without alcoholic beverages, zoo officials said.
“This is really an enjoyable time for the children,” said Toledo resident Sara Stockwell, who attended the event with her husband, Phil, and their children Tyler, 11, Jace, 8, and Drew 7, and their neighbor Drew Newton, 12. “New Year’s Eve is usually geared toward adults.”
But not the party at the zoo, where children celebrated by sipping complimentary apple juice, viewed polar bears and penguins, and participated in various games and arts and crafts activities. Most activities were free of charge.
Some of the older children were eager to share their New Year’s resolutions.
“I like New Year’s because it’s a chance to start all over again,” said 10-year-old Anessa Stoney of Toledo. Anessa, much to the joy of her mother, Jessica Stoney, said her 2013 New Year's resolution is “to get all A’s” on her report card.
The new year wasn’t the only cause for celebration at the zoo on Monday.
Evelyn Checki of Findlay was celebrating her 5th birthday with her sister Allyson and their mother, Holly Checki, and family friend Daylee Germ.
“Laura the Elephant and I have the same birthday,” a proud Evelyn announced.
Victor and Azia Mendosa, of Adrian, Mich. celebrating their first year as a family.
The Mendosas, who married in July, brought along their 2-year-old son Malakai, who didn’t seem to know what to make of all the cheering and singing outdoors. But he appeared to enjoy grabbing crayons and paper at the arts and crafts table he visited.
Asked if he had any New Year’s resolutions, Mr. Mendosa, 20, reached over and held his wife’s hand and looked down at their son.
“My only hope is that we get to spend as much time as possible together,” he said.
Contact Federico Martinez at: email@example.com or 419-724-6154.