Kids Ring in ‘Noon Year’ at Santa Maria Discovery Museum

Posted in: Noozhawk, Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum, Special Events

Annual event lets children noisily celebrate New Year’s without staying up late

By Janene Scully, Noozhawk North County Editor | @JaneneScully | December 31, 2017 | 5:45 p.m.

Juliet Jimenez, 2, of Santa Maria, celebrates the arrival of 2018 during the Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum event Sunday afternoon. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Equipped with their recently-assembled noisemakers, youths enthusiastically rang in the new year with a noontime celebration at the Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum on Sunday.

Approximately 200 people filled the Santa Maria museum for the annual Noon Year’s Eve event complete with a countdown, cookies and punch for the young crowd of partiers.

The sunshine outside did nothing to dampen the celebration that included making party favors at the creation station where plastic cups, paper plates, beans and glue — lots of it — became noisemakers.

“This is one of our favorite days of the year,” said Chris Slaughter, Discovery Museum executive director. “We get to celebrate a wonderful year in 2017 and an exciting year ahead for 2018.”

Holding her homemade noisemaker, Juliet Jimenez, 2, of Santa Maria, sat on the floor awaiting the countdown, during a rare moment of not being on the move.

“We wanted to do something fun,” her mom, Christine Jimenez, said later, after chasing the energetic toddler across the museum.

The Discovery Museum marked its 21st year offering hands-on activities for families in Santa Barbara County.

Slaughter said the new year will bring new exhibits and programs to the museum.

Youths and adults gather to countdown to the “Noon Year” Sunday at the Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

“We’re continuing to expand our age demographic with our makerspace, with our Vandenberg Launch Experience and green building programs that are infusing more science, technology, engineering and math into our programming schedule,” she said.

The recycling exhibit will involve plastic bottles traveling along a conveyor belt and returning as a recycled product.

“That’s going to be fun,” Slaughter said.

Plans also call for expanded outdoor space to add “messy sand and water play,” safely in a fenced area.

The next phase of the Launch Experience space-themed exhibit should be installed in time for the May launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base of NASA’s InSight mission to Mars.

The Discovery Museum had 32,000 people go through its doors in 2017, and expect a similar, or larger, number of visitors for the year ahead.

Jace Hale, who turns 3 soon, smiles while shaking his noisemaker during the Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum celebration Sunday. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

With a funding gap, the museum must continue to focus on fundraising for the organization’s long-term sustainability, Slaughter said.

“We are grateful to our community for making this all possible — their donations of time, talent and treasure,” she said.

“The future is bright and we’re grateful for this community,” she added.

Meanwhile, the Santa Barbara Zoo hosted youngsters for the New Year’s Eve Kids Club, which included dinner, special animal encounters, night tours, s’mores and more for those ages 3 to 12.

Children could stay until just after midnight or take advantage of an overnight option.

Dean Noble, the zoo’s marketing director, said the New Year’s Eve Kids Club was sold out.

— Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk@NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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