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Dropping the ball

Children’s museum maintains New Year’s tradition for kids

December 31, 2011
By JACKIE STARK - Journal Staff Writer , The Mining Journal

MARQUETTE - The Upper Peninsula Children's Museum on Spring Street in Marquette is keeping with tradition this New Year's Eve.

The Museum will hold its 13th annual New Year's Eve Elementary Ball from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Dec. 31.

"We've been doing it for a long, long time," said museum director Nheena Ittner. "It's the premiere event for young little ones."

Article Photos

Audrey Sherman, 6, daughter of Lauren Sherman, helps check the light bulbs on the ball that will be dropped on New Year’s Eve at the Upper Peninsula Children's Museum. The event has been taking place since 1998. (Journal photo by Matt Keiser.)

The Elementary Ball costs $5 for children and is free for adults.

The event includes a disc jockey, party hats, cookies from Super One Foods and a drink fountain. Kids can dance and play in the museum until 7:30 p.m., when the evening will culminate in much the same way that New Year's Eve parties across the country do: with a ball drop.

At the end of the evening, the museum's courtyard acts as a smaller version of New York City's Times Square, one of the biggest New Year's Eve destinations in the country. The ball is brought out and the crowd counts down the minutes until the new year or, in this case, until 7:30 p.m. The event is centered around children, so the evening ends a little earlier than most people's will that day.

"At 7:30, everybody goes out to the courtyard and that's when we drop the ball," Ittner said.

"The kids all count backwards and we light it up and it sparkles."

The ball consists of a wire shell with strings of lights wrapped around it. In the middle three larger bulbs face downward, creating much of the light that emanates from it.

Ittner said the event usually sees a good turnout, with around 300 people attending, and she expects that to continue this year.

Though kids have the option of donning suits in honor of the new year, a more casual style is acceptable as well.

"Kids can come dressed up, and others come in their blue jeans," Ittner said. "It's a whole lot of fun, with a lot of people.

"The DJ plays music and kids can dance and jump around ... they love the action and the music, running around and playing with friends, and the parents have a great time," Ittner added. "That's all pretty special. It's a party and they're here to have a good time and laugh and be with other kids."

For more information on the event or to sign up for a membership at the U.P. Children's Museum, call 906-226-7065.

Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is



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