Armed with creatively crafted noisemakers and recently made party hats, children rang in the new year while dancing at noon Saturday in Santa Maria.
The Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum hosted its annual Noon Year’s Eve party, a family celebration to let children greet 2017 — albeit a bit earlier than the rest of California.
“This is my favorite day of the year,” executive director Chris Slaughter told Noozhawk. “Creating quality family time, the moments where families can have quality time together, that’s what we’re all about.
“Today, it’s particularly evident with families making noise makers, dancing together and bringing on the Noon Year,” she added. “It’s a special day. It’s what we want to have happen here all year round.”
The celebration was capped with nonalcoholic bubbly, marking the museum’s 20th anniversary year.
In 2016, the museum added five new exhibits and welcomed more than 31,000 visitors, Slaughter said.
“But that’s just the beginning,” she explained. “What we’re looking for in 2017 are even more people through the door, more members and more new exhibiits.”
Other plans call for a “Made in Santa Maria” exhibit to turn the museum’s Creation Station into a “makerspace,” or work area with tools to foster creativity.
The museum also will become home to the after-school robotics program set to launch in 2017, Slaughter said.
Additionally, museum leaders are working with an advisory group, focused on the agricultural industry, to incorporate more about the science of farming, such as the lifecycle of a salad.
The nonprofit museum, at 705 S. McClelland St., is funded 100 percent from donations, but it has a monthly shortfall of approximately $10,000 to $15,000 to keep the facility open while maintaining affordable admission prices.
“The only way we can close that gap are by these private individuals, corporations and foundations,” Slaughter said. “It’s a big gap.”
Noon Year’s Eve also kicked off a month’s worth of programming centered on the theme, “A New Year, A Healthy New You.”
Activities for January include painting with fruits and veggies at Preschool Patrol, learning where our food comes from at Passport Thursday, and doing mindfulness meditations at Fit Friday.
“Everyone wants to live happy and active lives, especially at the start of a new year,” program director Amy Blasco said. “The Discovery Museum’s programs offer families a fun way to learn about their bodies and develop healthy habits together.”
The museum’s holiday membership special, available through Jan. 15, provides new and renewing members 10 percent off any membership, discount passes to the San Luis Obispo Children’s Museum and Central Coast Aquarium in Avila Beach, and a Discovery Museum T-shirt.