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Early Aurora event lets kids enjoy the excitement of New Year’s Eve

Around 800 families gathered around for 1200 ballodrop when clock struck noTuesday Vaughan Athletic Center Aurora.  | LindGirardi~For Sun-Times

Around 800 families gathered around for the 1,200 balloon drop when the clock struck noon Tuesday at the Vaughan Athletic Center in Aurora. | Linda Girardi~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: February 3, 2014 3:43PM

AURORA — Pint-sized partiers decked out in fancy dresses, tiaras and hats celebrated New Year’s Eve with a balloon drop at the Vaughan Athletic Center Tuesday.

“Balloons and noisemakers, this is awesome,” exclaimed Ethan Ivano, 7.

Knowing midnight is way past bedtime, hundreds of families rang in 2014 at noon Tuesday at the Fox Valley Park District’s annual Family New Year’s Eve party.

The event featured a monster truck bounce house, giant slide, music by a DJ and games for children spread across four basketball courts at the Aurora athletic facility.

“We maxed out in pre-registration early this year,” said Lisa Peterson, guest services coordinator.

Peterson estimates 800 families attended the event.

The highlight of the festivities was the countdown and release of 1,200 colorful balloons from a net strung across the rafters of the multi-story building.

Russ Ivanov, of Montgomery, said the noon hour party was ideal for his son Ethan and his twin sister, Emma, as well as his youngest daughter, Adda, 4.

“We are having a great time. The kids will be asleep by midnight,” the dad said.

Naomi and David Krodel were having a playful time tossing the balloons with their children, Gwendolyn, 5 and Garrett, 3.

“Our wish for the New Year is a healthy year with personal growth and time together. It’s important to enjoy the little things in life and create memories,” Naomi Krodel said.

The couple’s 4-week-old baby girl, Gloria, was fast asleep in her carriage amid all of the noise and commotion.

“My baby sleeps pretty well, she may have been tired out from all of the family activities lately,” the Batavia mother said.

“New Year’s Eve is a lot about adults,” said Jennifer Polk, of Aurora.

The mother came with her husband, Michael, and their 3-year old daughter, Mikaylah, decked out in a pink tutu and leis to match.

“We thought it would be nice to do something with our daughter, plus it helps her burn off a little bit of energy. She really wants to dance and have cookies,” Polk said.

Mary and John Baiback, of Aurora, were celebrating New Year’s Eve with Lily, 6 and Anna, 2.

“We used to hang out with friends, but now we would rather spend the time with our kids,” Mary Baiback said.

Anna Wilt came with her young daughter, Ella, 3, and 7-month old son, Quinn.

“We’re going to do the bounce house and watch the balloon drop,” Wilt said.

“I wanted my kids to get an idea of what the big deal is all about,” the Sugar Grove mother said. “I don’t miss the old days at all. I feel experiencing New Year’s through my kids’ eyes is so much better.”

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