Two Holidays Down with One to Go

I don’t know about you, but I’m finding it hard to adjust back to “work mode” following this middle-of-the-week Christmas.  Depending on if you celebrate Kwanzaa or Hanukkah, you could very well still be celebrating!  Thanksgiving, with its long hours of cooking and even longer hours with extended family, was just one month ago.  Add in all of the preparation craziness that happens between these two holidays (and even more family time), and I’m sure I’m not alone in being just a little tired of celebrating, but not quite ready to face the “real world.”  It is nice to know that there is at least one more excuse we can give ourselves for not having our heads entirely in the game: New Year’s Eve!

My friends have somewhat of a New Year’s tradition of gathering at a home, bringing lots of tasty finger-foods and “pot luck” style dishes along with bottles of champagne.  We play games, listen to music, get a little rowdy, and watch the ball drop.  Most everyone stays the night, ensuring that we all stay safe.  From the sounds of it, that is probably what we’re going to do again this year.  But if not, there is a variety of Plan Bs to choose from, because something is always happening here in the Twin Cities! 

First, starting at 10:00 AM at Saint Paul’s Como Park Zoo and Marjorie McNeely Conservatory, is the kid-friendly “Noon Year’s Eve” event.  Rock in the "Zoo" year with your friends at the Como Zoo! The fun is perfectly fit for the whole family, with live entertainment by Radio Disney, crafts, activities, and a countdown to Noon.

The next notable event, the final showing of the Holiday Lights in the Park, starts at 5:30 PM. This year, Phalen Park in St. Paul was transformed into a holiday wonderland filled with 1 million lights with 43 life-sized displays ranging from ice castles to animated toy soldiers strewn across more than half of a mile. As people drive through the display, they're often serenaded by local choirs, offered warm cookies before the drive, and sometimes greeted by an elf from Santa’s workshop. There is a vehicle entrance fee of $8 and a $2-per-person shuttle bus is available for visitors who don't have cars or prefer to be driven through the displays.  The money, being collected by the King of Kings Lutheran Church in Woodbury, will be donated to area food shelves, Union Gospel Mission and the Saint Paul Parks Conservancy Foundation.  This event you don’t have to wait for though, it’s going on every night through December 31st!

For the kids, and the kids-at-heart, ring in the New Year with SpongeBob and friends at the Nickelodeon New Year's Bash at Mall of America, starting at 6:00 PM! This giant beach party will feature a Hawaiian-style luau, complete with music, food and dancing. And who could forget all the other great stuff to do at the MOA, like shopping, movie theaters, great rides and the Underwater Adventures Aquarium?  The evening will culminate with a family New Year's countdown at 10:00 PM, complete with a giant ball drop. Ringing in the New Year at the Nickelodeon Universe will be memorable for the whole family.

Finally, Folkssport is sponsoring another New Year’s Eve Candlelight Walk and Skating Pond at Fort Selling State Park, located at Hwy 5 and Post Road.  If your resolution is to get more exercise next year, this is how you can get a jump-start on your goals.  Close out the year and welcome a new one with some old-fashioned, healthy exercise. If conditions permit, a skating pond will be located near the fishing pier complete with a fire to warm up if you get cold. There is a fee for this event, though it wasn’t clear on how much.  I couldn’t imagine it being particularly expensive. 

Of course, this isn’t everything that is going on in the Minneapolis / St. Paul area for new years, but they are some of your more unique options and they are very family friendly.  If you want to check out other great local activities in the Twin Cities and surrounding communities, the Star Tribune events calendar is an excellent source of information.  I’ve also found that is a great resource.  Whatever you choose to do this New Year’s Eve, have a safe holiday and good luck to you in 2009!

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