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Family-friendly New Year’s Eve fun

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Updated: January 28, 2013 3:41PM



Ring in the New Year with music, magic and more, celebrate on ice, or get a little wild with these family-friendly New Year’s Eve celebrations.

† New Year’s Fest in Kalamazoo, Mich., is an event that offers 6½ hours of entertainment and activities at 15 venues with options for all ages.

The first acts start at 4:30 p.m. CST and include a Vegas-style vocalist, a tuba ensemble playing holiday music and an “America’s Got Talent” performer who combines comedy, juggling, Michael Jackson moves and more into his shows. The evening ends with a bang and fireworks at 11 p.m. (midnight EST).

The entertainment during the rest of the evening is varied and includes: improv comedy; line dancing; storytelling; a yo-yo master; an Elvis impressionist; cover bands; a German band complete with giant alphorns; and much more. There are also arts and crafts activities, and a Lego city.

The venues are inside churches, a hotel ballroom, a theater and the public library. The venues are spread across five blocks of downtown Kalamazoo, and centered around the park where revelers gather to countdown as the ball drops at midnight.

Horse-drawn trolleys provide free rides around the event area. Food and beverage concessions are available in most of the venues as well as in the park, plus there are many restaurants and watering holes along the nearby streets.

With an admission price of $8 per person and children 3 and younger admitted free, families have even more reason to celebrate.

You might even want to stay overnight in Kalamazoo as a nice alternative to the nearly two-hour drive home after the evening’s celebration. Then, on New Year’s Day, you can visit the interesting — and free — Kalamazoo Valley Museum, the fun and educational Air Zoo, or hit the ski slopes at nearby Bittersweet or Timber Ridge.

Go online to www.newyearsfest.com for event details and links at accommodations and area attractions.

† The New Year’s forecast is for good ice skating conditions, perfect for the New Year’s Eve Celebration at Deep River Waterpark Ice Plaza in Merrillville.

Various activities on and off the ice will be offered from 5 to 10 p.m., including a deejay and music at the rink, and indoor activities with revelers making a New Year’s party hat and filling in a resolution booklet.

The New Year’s countdown and sparkling juice toast take place at 8 p.m., with skating and music continuing until 10.

Admission is $5 per person; skate rentals are $6 per person. Deep River Waterpark is at 9001 E. U.S. 30, about 5 miles east of Interstate 65.

† Holiday Magic continues nightly at Brookfield Zoo with special evening lights and lasers shows, talks by zookeepers, ice carvers, and holiday entertainment in addition to opportunities to see the animal exhibits after regular hours. It ends with Zoo Year’s Eve and a “kid-friendly countdown” at 8 p.m.

Regular admission applies: $15 for adults; $10.50 for children ages 3 to 11 and seniors older than 65; and free for military personnel. Parking is $10. Brookfield Zoo is at 8400 W. 31st St. in Brookfield, Ill., at First Avenue.



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