Midnight came 12 hours early early at CMEE during their first ever "Ball Drop" to herald in 2009. Photos by Nicole B. Brewer
- As adults all over the Hamptons were finishing up a day at the office and getting ready for a long night out, some 150 children under eight started celebrating 2009 early at the Children's Museum of the East End
's (CMEE) first ever "Ball Drop."
CMEE Executive Director Steve Long stated, "We wanted to give kids a chance to see New Year's Eve. Since the kids can't stay up until midnight, and their parents don't want them to stay up until midnight, we thought it would be a great idea to have the ball drop like in Times Square
Long's initial worries of low attendance due to the snow were easily calmed as excited children and parents began arriving around 10:30 a.m. to make noisemakers and play and learn at the museum prior to noon.
"The Philadelphia Please Touch Museum president Nancy Kolb was my Pre-K teacher and I visited her and was picking her brain for ideas. She's such an inspirational person for people who work in children's museums and she mentioned the ball drop." Long continued, "That's one of the great things about children's museums. They are so collaborative and willing to share and if one idea works in Philadelphia we'll give it a try. The folks at the Long Island Children's Museum have been really great in coming up with ways that we can work together too."
The "Fun 2, 3, 4: All About A Number Of Things" exhibit held the older children's attention as the younger ones played with music near and on the tree, fished near the large ship, colored and worked with clay in the art room, and had fun with an oversized Mr. Potato.
As noon approached everyone gathered in CMEE Square – between an oversized fire truck's flashing lights and the bow of the two-story ship. Long laughed that while the CMEE ball is lit it's far from the scale of the Waterford crystal ball that would drop later in Times Square, "Ours is the size of a globe." Following the traditional countdown from 10, children blew noisemakers and cheered as the ball was lowered and confetti came down from the top of the ship. A mix of tinsel and paper, the little ones scooped it up and began to toss it about.
Children blew noisemakers that they crafted earlier in the morning as they waited for
the ball to drop.
Sarah Ryan, out for the day with her two-year old daughter Ursula, said that she had plans for the night but wanted to have some fun with her daughter beforehand. "She loved the museum - it was really fun," remarked Ryan. That sentiment was echoed by parents and children who were already making plans to come back again next year to CMEE for the ball drop.
Coming up in January at CMEE an art exhibition
is planned. Noted Long, "We are having a call for young artists [aged two to 10] to describe their hopes and dreams for 2009 on sheets of 18 x 24 paper. Kids can come in and use whatever medium they want – pastels, crayons, paint, collage.
We're going to have an art exhibition starting Friday, Jan. 23 and the work will be on display for the week and judged by people from the Merz Gallery." All artwork is due back to the museum by Jan. 15 for consideration.
"So many parents have asked about a place for kids to exercise in the winter," said Long when asked about upcoming programs. "We'll be opening up an indoor play-space to help kids learn about fitness and we're working with nutritionists and healthcare providers to create a health fair."
As for the finances of the museum Long explained, "Our finances are stable, not that we're not still, like everybody else, facing enormous challenges, but we're restructuring our budget and we're much more sustainable that way." With a wide grin he remarked, "We'll be here a long long time."
Just moments after the ball dropped confetti flew and excited children scooped it up to take home as a momento.
• The Children's Museum of the East End (CMEE) is located at 376 Bridgehampton/Sag Harbor Turnpike, in Bridgehampton. General admission tickets are $7 adults, children under one free. Contact CMEE at 631-537-8250 and check them out on the web at www.cmee.org.
Nicole, an award-winning journalist, is Executive Editor & Publisher of Hamptons.com where she focuses on celebrity interviews, fine living and design, social events, fashion and beauty. She lives on the North Fork with her husband, their two daughters, and Bernese Mountain dog, Cooper. www.hamptons.com