New Year’s Eve fun starts early for families at zoo, museums |
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If your young kids can’t make it until midnight to welcome 2011 with you, that’s OK. At four Pittsburgh-area attractions, kids can enjoy daytime New Year’s Eve parties.

For starters, the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium is giving families the daytime “Noon Year’s Eve” event — then, parents can do their own late-night thing.

“I think that people like the fact that it’s a good way for the whole family to celebrate New Year’s Eve, but not have to wait until midnight to do it,” says Gabriele Boldizar, special events manager for the zoo. “If parents want to ring in the new year at midnight then they can do that, but for the little ones that can’t stay up, they can ring it in at noon.”

• The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium in Highland Park hosts “Noon Year’s Eve” from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. inside the aquarium; meanwhile, visitors can see the animals around the zoo all day. Kids can dance to music from Radio Disney, as they await a giant silver ball dropping down at noon. Kids can sign a banner with their ReZoolutions, which are pledges to be better stewards of the environment: for instance, by turning off the lights when not in use, and recycling.

“We are asking kids, instead of just making regular New Year’s resolutions, to do something that can help the planet and zoos,” she says. “It’s that ‘Go green’ mindset that we’re trying to encourage.”

The celebration is included with general admission of $10; $9 for age 60 and older and ages 2 to 13; free for children younger than 2. Details: 412-665-3640 or .

• At the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh on the North Side, kids and parents can enjoy the New Year’s Eve Family Celebration , when midday will be considered the new year. The Countdown to Noon event will be in the museum’s Garage/Workshop, where jazz duo Lee Robinson and Joe DiFazio will entertain at 11:30 a.m. After the countdown — where Father Time will make an appearance — Jason Huddy, an award-winning magician, will perform two shows, at 12:30 and 1:30 p.m. Confetti cannons and balloons will help kids celebrate the early countdown.

The children’s museum activities are like the museum’s version of First Night, which begins in Downtown an hour after the museum closes at 5 p.m. Families have a great opportunity to attend both events, at the museum during the day and Downtown at night, program manager Angela Seals.

“It kind of bridges the whole thing,” she says. “Families can have some supper in between, and go to First Night.”

All New Year’s Eve activities are included with general museum admission of $11; $10 for ages 2 to 18, and 65 and older; and free for children younger than 2. Details: 412-322-5058 or .

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Oakland celebrates an early New Year’s Eve for families from 6 to 9 p.m. A countdown will be at 8:45 p.m. During the evening, visitors can walk around Phipps and see the Winter Flower Show, featuring poinsettias, snowmen characters, Christmas trees and other Yuletide decorations, and more. The show is there until Jan. 9.

Activities are included with general admission of $12; $11 for age 62 and older, and students with ID; $9 for ages 2-18; and free for children younger than 2. Details: 412-622-6914 and .

• Families can enjoy a German-style celebration in Butler County at midnight — midnight in Germany, that is. At the Harmony Museum , that moment comes at 6 p.m. The annual Silvester Celebration features a German dinner with bratwurst, pork, sauerkraut and more, which is served at 4 p.m. in Stewart Hall. Eclipse Karaoke will offer music outside, and a ball drop will be at 6 p.m. The museum opens at 2 p.m. Admission is $1. Details: 724-452-7341 or .

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