DuPage museum's bash features bubbles instead of bubbly
For hundreds of children dancing Monday inside North Central College's Wentz Concert Hall in Naperville, it didn't matter that the stroke of midnight was 12 hours away.
Nearly 600 children and their parents still donned tiaras reading "Happy New Year" and blew noisemakers -- as well as lots of bubbles -- to celebrate the new year at the DuPage Children's Museum's annual Bubble Bash.
The event has been a tradition for almost a decade and features music, giveaways, entertainment and a countdown to noon for children whose bedtimes land well before midnight on New Year's Eve.
"It's a way to bring what is traditionally an adult holiday to families," museum spokesman T.J. Hicks said.
Children were allowed to storm the stage and dance to tunes like "Jingle Bell Rock" performed live by Jeanie B. and the Jellybeans, as well as toss beach balls and wiggle in Hula-Hoops.
And to ensure the Bubble Bash lived up to its name, Geoff Akins dazzled both children and grown-ups with his "bubble master" skills.
Akins, of Barrington, used his hands, machines, wands and even a Hula-Hoop to create bubbles of all sizes, and even different shapes, including a square one.
His interactive show got lucky volunteers into the act, including two children who were encircled with giant bubbles. It also focused on educational skills like counting.
The bubbles and the music brought 7-year-old Julia Ham of Plainfield to her feet in applause. The bash is an annual tradition for Julia, her 3-year-old sister and their mother Lori, who said it's a great way for the kids to have their own New Year's party.
But the Ham girls didn't stay in their seats for long. Once Naperville Mayor George Pradel finished leading the countdown to noon, the three ran back onstage for the final fun of the day which was, of course, a Bubble Wrap stomp.
Organizers said they hosted the Bubble Bash at Wentz for the first time this year because a traveling exhibit on display at the museum through Jan. 27 called "How People Make Things" left little extra room. Hicks said space at the museum at 301 N. Washington St. in Naperville is also tight because workers are building a new SMART cafe (the acronym stands for science, math, art, reading and technology). The cafe will serve healthy food and have a grand opening at 10 a.m. Jan. 10 at the museum.
"People have definitely said they love having the Bubble Bash at the museum, but after today a lot of people had a blast in the concert hall, too," Hicks said. "So next year is still up in the air."
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