New Year's countdown, keiki style
By Loren Moreno
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Loren Moreno
Wearing a tangerine tutu and holding a sign with the number "2," 3-year-old Maria Bongiorno waited for her turn to raise her sign during the New Year's at Noon countdown at the Children's Discovery Center in Kaka'ako.
Maria hopped up and down in anticipation as the countdown went by slowly. And then, as the sea of children and parents screamed out, "Two," Maria held up her sign — albeit upside down — just moments before a flurry of colorful balloons poured down from the ceiling.
"That's her Halloween costume," Maria's mom, Luanne, said, pointing to her bright tutu. "She picked it out. She wanted to wear it today."
Dozens of children and parents rang in 2007 — 12 hours early — during the second annual New Year's at Noon celebration at the Children's Discovery Center, an interactive learning environment for young people. The center holds many holiday events a year to promote family togetherness, said its president, Loretta Yajima.
Luanne Bongiorno said she brought little Maria to the event since she didn't want to keep her up until midnight.
As the clock struck noon, the air filled with the sounds of popping bubble wrap — each child received his or her own sheet to crush — and the rattling of dried beans smashed inside folded paper plates. Some kids couldn't help but stomp on the hundreds of balloons that poured down from the ceiling.
Seven-year-old Jack Plummer held up the number eight during the countdown. He said he was excited to get the number because he'll be turning 8 in a few weeks.
"I wanted it," Jack said.
Meredith Plummer, Jack's mom, said this New Year's is bittersweet for her family, since her husband, who is in the Air Force, is away in South Korea.
"It's sad that he's away, but New Year's also means that he'll be home in three months," she said.
Meredith Plummer, who also brought her two other children to the event, made sure to snap a lot of pictures.
"I'm going to post them on the Web for him to see," she said.
The New Year's at Noon celebration received such a large response last year that the children's center wanted to do it again, Yajima said.
"We think it's a wonderful, concrete way of helping children understand the concept of finishing one year and starting off a brand new year. Everything we do here at the center is really family oriented. All of our events are geared toward children, but it's the nurturing, the shared experience of parents and the family that creates important memories for the child," she said.
Reach Loren Moreno at email@example.com.