Ringing in the New Year, safely

Family First Night attendees play a game of Bingo before ringing in the 2012 New Year.

Family First Night attendees play a game of Bingo before ringing in the 2012 New Year.

Celebrating doesn’t have to mean drinking or potentially dangerous situations, and Hamilton County leaders are providing another safe opportunity to celebrate New Year’s Eve at the Hamilton County 4-H Grounds, 2003 Pleasant St., Noblesville.

“It’s a tremendous benefit for the community to have folks volunteer their time to provide options,” said Lt. Bruce Barnes of the Noblesville Police Dept. “There’s a lot of different things. What they’re doing is such a tremendous benefit.”

More than 200 people of all ages attended last year’s inaugural event and free alternative celebration. Organizers hope to have 250 to 300 people this year.

“It easily could have been more because we went through a lot of food,” event coordinator Jim Wafford of Logan Street Signs & Banners in Noblesville said.

Wafford is working closely with George Kristo, the executive director of the Hamilton County Council on Alcohol and Other Drugs, to coordinate the event. Kristo and his late wife, Linda, have hosted the alternative party in previous years.

“I’m very flattered and honored to have George ask me to be a part and take the lead in the tradition he and his wife began,” Wafford said.

Games and activities begin at 8 p.m. with the kitchen starting to serve food at 8:15 p.m. The event will include Bingo, board games, cornhole, mini basketball shootout and, of course, ping pong. Wafford bought a second table because of its popularity last year.

“It was such a hit people were standing in line,” he said. “We want to put on a good time.”

Wafford said the event would also feature two classic movies: “Little Princess” with Shirley Temple at 7:30 p.m. and “Fancy Pants” with Bob Hope and Lucille Ball at 9:30 p.m. At midnight, a live streaming of New York City’s Times Square will help count down the seconds to 2013. Local DJ, Kevin Friend “DJ Doctor Toast,” has volunteered his services to play music throughout the event.

“We want this to be more family-oriented, broader. To show younger people there is a way to celebrate New Year’s without getting drunk,” Wafford said. “There are all kinds of food: pizza, hot dogs, even popcorn. People should have a fun time.”

Attendees can come and go as they please, but Wafford reminds parents that this is not a babysitting service.

“All kids under 12 need to be with an adult. The idea is you need to be there with your family,” he said, adding that a Noblesville police officer will be in attendance.

“It’s really fun to see the families come in as a family and play Monopoly or chess, something that takes time,” said Wafford. “Everyone should start the New Year together and that’s what we are all about.”

The event is free, but Wafford said he was struggling to find volunteers and door prizes for various games.

“I only have half of what we need,” he said.

Those interested in contributing or volunteering can call Wafford at 773-7200.

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