Some choose to ring in new year 12 hours early
Published: Monday, January 1, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, December 31, 2006 at 10:12 p.m.
MIAMI - The clock struck 12, the ball dropped, and the guests toasted the new year at a party on Sunday - but the sun was still shining.
It was ''Noon Year's Eve'' at the Miami Children's Museum, one of a number of parties across the country where celebrants toast midday, not midnight.
For those without the stamina or patience to wait, it was a chance to ring in the new year 12 hours early. Kid-friendly celebrations, with apple-juice toasts, are popular, but senior centers are also moving the late-night climax to lunchtime.
At the children's museum, parents were divided on whether their children would stay up to welcome 2007.
''This is his New Year's celebration,'' said Leslie Biegelsen, explaining that her son Ben, 5, will be asleep at midnight.
Ben's friend Ryan Guillen, 8, happily explained the stroke-of-noon celebration to his buddy, however.
''When midnight comes a ball is going to drop,'' Guillen said shortly before the round, blue head of the museum's mascot descended from the building's second story to the first as guests counted down.
Organizers of events around the country say the noontime parties offer celebrations that mirror ones at the witching hour.
At the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, which threw its first noon year's celebration this year, ice sculptures of an elephant and a polar bear greeted children. Guests were invited to draft ReZOOlutions, environmentally friendly promises for the new year.
But the celebrations are more than a party because they can be used to teach, according to Frank Luzi, a spokesman for the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia, which is geared to young children and was expecting 1,500 people at its celebration on Sunday.
Counting down to noon is a good way to introduce children to the concept of a new year and what that means, Luzi said.
Seniors, meanwhile, have other reasons to celebrate early.
Some have trouble driving at night or don't like driving while others who may have been drinking are on the road, said Lisa Foster, who coordinated a noon party for more than 130 people in Murfreesboro, Tenn. Celebrants at the St. Clair Street Senior Center sang ''Auld Lang Syne'' at noon Friday.
In Mount Airy, Md., Viv Dorwart, 64, attended a party at a senior center that drew about 100 guests and featured a singer doing Frank Sinatra in a tuxedo. Dorwart still planned to stay up until midnight, but with her husband and son at home.
''We don't do all that young stuff of going to bars and drinking. We put that aside a few years ago,'' she said.
Dorwart said guests wore hats and tiaras and blew horns at noon.
The celebrations at the Miami Children's Museum were greeted with similar enthusiasm. As a banner announcing 2007 unfurled, showering confetti, Domenick Garofalo, 5, pumped his fist in the air and got a kiss from his mother Kim.
''This is the way to go,'' Kim Garofalo said.
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