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Family New Year’s Eve Party balloons with festive fun

Gerhard Schwartz holds up his daughter Stephanie 3 from Aurorbefore ballodrop during Family New Year’s Eve Party Vaughn Center AurorFriday

Gerhard Schwartz, holds up his daughter Stephanie, 3, from Aurora before the balloon drop during the Family New Year’s Eve Party at the Vaughn Center in Aurora on Friday, December 31, 2012. | Brian Powers~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: February 2, 2013 6:05AM

AURORA — Reminiscent of a ballroom gala with glitter party hats and tiaras, several hundred children rushed to be part of a New Year’s countdown beneath a shower of 1,500 balloons.

“The balloons came from every which way!” exclaimed 10-year old Grace Hoag, stepping out of the excitement, with her hair in a fan of static cling.

On Monday, families gathered at the Vaughan Athletic Center on Indian Trail for the Fox Valley Park District’s fifth annual Family New Year’s Eve Party for youngsters too young to watch the clock strike midnight.

Some of the youngest children, perched on their father’s shoulders, stretching out their fingers to catch one of the hand blown balloons, as the DJ began chanting the countdown for what became a rather spectacular balloon drop.

Two park district staff members, with hand held communication radios, stood on the either side of the second level balcony above the crowd and then simultaneously pulled two ends of rope, releasing hundreds of balloons from a white fishing net.

As the balloons began to topple to the floor, cameras started flashing to capture the moment. Within a few seconds, the youngsters sounded off their own version of party favors by stomping on the air bubbles.

Annessa Nagy of Aurora offered to bring her friend’s children, Grace Hoag and her younger brother Shane, 6, of Sandwich, because their mother had to work.

“I wanted them to enjoy the excitement of ringing in the New Year at noon instead of midnight. It’s pretty impressive seeing all those balloons,” Nagy said.

Aurora mom Jennifer Carnes and her 6-year old son Caden enjoyed the range of activities offered for families and kids, from infants to 12. There were bigger than life Tweety Bird and obstacle castle inflatable houses for jumping, a football toss and hula hoops for dancing.

Most of the youngsters seemed to understand the tradition of recognizing the last moments of 2012.

“It’s a time to move on,” Caden said.

“It’s a safe, family friendly party,” his mother said.

“New Year’s Eve changes when you have children – it’s about making sure our families are together,” Carnes added.

Grade school friends Pareena Shah of Naperville and Swati Patel of Roselle, along with their husbands, organized a group to return to the Vaughan Center’s New Year’s party to celebrate with their families.

“Our children are the most important part of our lives,” Shah said.

Shah said she sat down with her children, ages 2, 5, 6 and 8, to write down goals for the new year. She said her children came up with things such as helping around the house and being extra nice to their siblings.

“We enjoyed the party so much and saw how our children were beginning to understand the significance of the New Year,” said Patel, whose children are ages 8 and 11. “We try to share with our children the meaning of having new hopes and the importance of setting higher goals in life to grow.”

“Our husbands are young at heart and right there with the kids,” she added.

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