Buffalo Grove, Lincolnshire kids celebrate early New Year
Buffalo Grove 5-year-old Jonah Cooper enjoys the bubbles Friday during the Vernon Area Library's New Year's Eve countdown for kids. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 4, 2013 6:02AM
LINCOLNSHIRE — As Buffalo Grove resident Jonah Cooper prepared for New Year’s Eve, he admitted that he could not remember a thing about how he rang in the new year a year ago.
A witness who was with Cooper that night told him that he made it past midnight, but that is all the information Cooper has to work with.
Cooper was four years old at the time. He knows he stayed up past midnight because the man telling him what he did is father.
“I don’t really have it actually planned,” Jonah Cooper said ahead of Monday night’s revelry.
But on Friday, Dec. 28, Cooper and about 25 local kids started their celebration early at the Vernon Area Public Library.
The library held a New Year’s celebration for children in its community room, where kids crafted, wore party hats, made a variety of noise-makers and imbibed juice straight out of the box.
At the strike of noon, the children danced under a shower of bubbles from an industrial-strength bubble-blower.
Sarah Okner, the youth services librarian who organized the event, said she was pleased with the turnout, the program and the cleanup.
“It went really well,” she said as half-eaten cookies and plastic sparking cider cups piled up around her. “I was really happy that a lot of the parents were dancing with their kids. The kids love it when their parents get involved.”
Okner started at the Vernon Library in May. She previously worked at a library in Hendersonville, Nev., where their New Year’s afternoon events were an annual success. Part of what she hoped her young audience had learned from the first local version was how to mark special occasions.
“They’re still learning about the concept of time,” she said.
Two of those who got involved in the party were Jason and Amy Bennett, Vernon Hills parents who frequently bring their 4-year-old Isabelle to library programs.
“It’s hard to find things to do with the kids,” Amy said while her daughter glued the letters of her name onto her New Year’s party hat.
Discussing their own New Year’s Eve, the Bennetts said they are without a baby sitter.
“We were just talking about that last night,” Jason said. “We don’t have anything planned.”
Without plans, they shared their vision for an ideal New Year’s Eve.
“We’d probably be on a beach, somewhere in Hawaii,” Jason said.
Barbara Merkin came to the event with her three grandchildren: Sarah Jutovsky, 6; Haley Jutovsky, 3; and Kara Merkin, 3. While watching them play, Markin contemplated her New Year’s resolution, and smiled.
“More family,” she said.
Meanwhile, Billy Cooper and his sons, Jonah and 3-year-old Elijah, dressed up so they could look sharp together in a New Year’s portrait. Billy was also one of those parents that Okner saw dancing with the kids.
“There’s no reason to be an adult too much,” said the fourth-grade teacher. “I like to hang out with the kids.”
Billy went on to remind Jonah of their New Year’s Eve 2011: they sang karaoke in the basement. With his wife, Alana, scheduled to work past midnight at Kona Grill on Monday, Billy planned to put his kids to sleep early this New Year’s Eve.
On Friday, Jonah learned about New Year’s resolutions.
“What’s a resolution?” he asked.
When Billy explained that concept to him, Jonah quickly thought up what he resolved to change in 2013.
“Be nice,” he promised.