Family-friendly New Year’s Eve in New Paltz

Left to right are: Community Education Coordinator in the Office for Community Wellness Phoenix Kawamoto, New Paltz Youth Program Director Jim Tinger and interns Alessandra Crimi and Elliott Eminizer. (Photo by Lauren Thomas)

The city of Boston gets the credit for coining the term “First Night” to refer to an alternative New Year’s Eve celebration that nixes the alcohol and puts the focus on family-friendly activities. That was back in 1976. And their inaugural event was so successful organizers went on to form “First Night International” and trademark the phrase “First Night,” so now any community that wishes to organize an event under that name must pay them a substantial fee.

Few communities have the resources to do that, but you know, a rose by any other name is just as sweet. New Paltz’s family-friendly New Year’s Eve celebration is called “New Paltz Eve,” scheduled to make its sixth annual appearance on Tuesday, December 31 from 1-7 p.m. All activities are free of charge to partake of, thanks to support from the local businesses and organizations listed below. Most of the fun happens indoors, so the party will go on regardless of the weather.

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New Paltz Eve kicks off at 1 p.m. at two locations this year. Teens (and families with younger children) may visit the New Paltz Youth Program’s Teen Scene headquarters at 220 Main Street for a scavenger hunt from 1-3 p.m. Alternatively, families with children age six or older can see what the “Fun Fest” is about at the New Paltz Community Center at 3 Veterans Drive. A family folk dance, corn hole games and indoor miniature golf, among other activities, will be offered from 1-4 p.m.

After the scavenger hunt ends, the New Paltz Youth Program will offer a video game tournament from 3-5 p.m. for ages 11 and older. Smash Brothers and Mario Kart 8 are promised, with prizes to be won. Children ages 3-5 may attend a special holiday story and craft hour from 3-4 p.m. at Elting Library, 93 Main Street, in the children’s room, followed by “Story Magic” for all ages from 4-5 p.m. Professional storyteller Lorraine Hartin-Gelardi will present “Starlight and Snowflakes: Stories for a New Year’s Eve.” Hartin-Gelardi is a performer, emcee and workshop presenter, author of Wisdom in the Telling, the 2008 winner of the Storytelling World Resource Award for Special Storytelling Resources. Listeners at Elting Library can expect to hear tales of a boy who battles the wind and a squirrel that loves muffins.

The community dinner at the New Paltz United Methodist Church, at the corner of Main and Grove streets, will offer continuous seatings from 5-7 p.m. The menu includes baked ziti, homemade chili – beef, turkey or vegetarian varieties – rice, cornbread, beverages and dessert, including a gluten-free option. The dinner typically draws nearly 200 people who end the year by enjoying a meal in the company of their neighbors.

All activities officially end at 7 p.m. But for those who want to keep the party going into the evening, how about a movie? Anybody who participates in any one of the New Paltz Eve activities will receive a coupon that may be exchanged for a free movie ticket at the box office of New Paltz Cinema, good that evening only and while supplies last; one per person. Coupons may be redeemed from 6:15-7 p.m. Movie selections and show times have yet to be announced.

New Paltz Eve is put on through a collaboration between the Town of New Paltz and the Greater New Paltz Community Partnership (GNPCP), with generous donations and support from the New Paltz Department of Parks & Recreation, Elting Memorial Library, New Paltz Police Department, New Paltz Reformed Church, New Paltz Central School District, New Paltz United Methodist Church, New Paltz Youth Basketball Association, New Paltz Youth Program, Ulster Prevention Council, Village of New Paltz and the Woodcrest Bruderhof Community.

For more information, call Phoenix Kawamoto, the town’s community education coordinator, at (845) 256-5014 or email her at pkawamoto@townofnewpaltz.org.