When I think of New Year’s Eve, I think of ridiculous party favors draped and strewn among drunken partygoers holding half-spilled beer and a Champagne toast to a memory that'll probably be lost by morning.
Enjoying the holiday with kids can be an alternative to the typical New Year’s celebration. Several family-friendly spots in Cleveland offer New Year’s Eve extravaganzas ranging from relaxing to adventurous to picturesque.
Great Lakes Science Center
New Year’s Eve, Eve
Dec. 30, 7-11:30 p.m.
Eager holiday celebrators can enjoy the new year a night early, with a scientific twist. Visitors to downtown Cleveland’s science center can make their own supply of fake, fluffy, white snow to take home as a souvenir, watch fruitcake detonations, eat liquid nitrogen ice cream samplers, drink a ginger ale toast and see a balloon drop to end the second-to-last day of the year.
$24 per person, $20 for members
First Night Akron
Dec. 31, 6 p.m.-midnight
The main streets of downtown Akron will bustle with families strolling past flame twirlers, stilt walkers, illusionists and ice sculpting specialists. Eighty artists and performance groups will appear at the event, including a Beatles tribute and Celtic music from Fergie & The Bog Dogs. Several downtown eateries will be open, including The Lockview, Spaghetti Warehouse and Cilantro Thai and Sushi. Horse-drawn sleigh rides and free Metro bus rides will take people around.
Admission buttons $10, children under 10 free
Kids New Year’s Eve Bash, New Year’s Eve Grand Buffet
Buffet 3-8 p.m., kids party 4:30-6:30 p.m.
Mapleside Farms in Brunswick has recently revamped its old-fashioned persona and is welcoming the New Year as a stylish, modern gathering place and eatery. Kids can celebrate the New Year with a toast from a fruit punch fountain in plastic champagne glasses. A buffet dinner will feature carved prime rib, walnut-crusted salmon, a salad bar and a chocolate fountain.
Party: $25, $15 for children 2-12; Buffet, $31.95, $18.95 for kids 5-12, free for kids 4 and under
The Cleveland Indians’ home stays open past midnight for 2012's arrival. It’s part of the Indians’ Snow Days, which has transformed the stadium into a winter wonderland, with three ice-skating rinks and the 200-foot Batterhorn tubing hill for those in the need for speed.
Admission $5, children 2 and younger free
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
Noon Year’s Eve
10 a.m.-1 p.m.
For kids who can’t keep their eyes open until midnight, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo welcomes a pre-jamboree at the stroke of noon. The zoo’s festivities include a wild animal show, ice-sculpturing performances and animal-costumed characters greeting visitors. The 1260 AM Radio Disney Road Crew will play hits from 2011. And as the clock finally strikes noon, the Zoo’s ball will drop to ring in the New Year. Bundle up; most of the activities will be outdoors.
Free with zoo admission: $7 adults, $4 children 2-11, free for 2 and under