Almost 1,000 people celebrated the New Year at the Ernsthausen Recreation Center at a drug/alcohol/tobacco-free party for families at the fourth annual Family First Night.
Mike Pugh, who helped organize the event, said about 600 stayed past midnight to watch the ball drop from New York’s Times Square on a giant screen and fill the gymnasium with the sounds of party horns.
Ages ranged from infants to senior citizens, with every age in between.
Mary Geretz brought her granddaughter, Marly, to the party. She followed her granddaughter around as she played games and then played board games with children.
Marly had a definite favorite — face painting. She sported a picture of Santa Claus on her cheek.
“I just think seeing how much fun the kids are having is great,” Mary Geretz said.
The Rev. Wayne and Christa Mushett, who brought their five children to the party, said everyone in their family enjoyed the outing. Mushett, a Norwalk native who moved back to be the assistant pastor at Norwalk Alliance Church, not only brought his family, but also brought the congregation’s youth group.
Mushett’s family and friends enjoyed swimming, basketball and just about every other activity available for the evening.
“I enjoyed everything,” said Jared, 5.
Mushett’s other children — Johnathon, 14; Michaela, 12; Erin, 8; and Heather, 3 — also said they had a great time with the games and activities available.
They were joined by many other families ringing in a safe and happy New Year.
“If it just helped a couple of kids stay drug, alcohol and tobacco-free, it was worth it,” Pugh said. “We enjoy doing it because it keeps everyone safe on New Year’s Eve.
“It was very successful,” he said. “We probably had 100 to 150 more this year. We added a clown show and a lot of people liked that.”
Dozens of volunteers helped run the event, which was co-sponsored by the American Lung Association.