Addison Robbins, wide-eyed and wondering, patiently waited for the bubble to grow before poking it with one finger.
Pop! The bubble, made out of dry ice, vanished into smoke before her eyes.
"Woahhh," said 4-year-old Addison. "That's cool. It's my favorite. It gets really big and then when you touch it, it makes a lot of steam."
Still hours before the adult parties celebrating the arrival of a new year, kids at the DuPage Children's Museum in Naperville were spending New Year's Eve popping bubbles. Lots of them.
Addison and her mom, Leslie Robbins of Elmhurst, celebrated with about 500 other kids and parents on Tuesday at the museum's 12th annual Bubble Bash.
After a one-year hiatus when the event was held at North Central College's Wentz Hall, the museum rolled out the red carpet for its return -- literally -- with a welcome mat of Bubble Wrap for kids to jump on near the entrance.
From there it was on to a cornucopia of color, sound and yes, bubbles.
"We're very excited they brought it back," Leslie Robbins said. "It's something early in the day. We're all in bed by 9 tonight, so it's nice to have something specific for kids."
The event has become a tradition for roughly a decade, a way for parents to ring in the New Year with their children whose bedtimes are well before midnight.
"The way I look at it is that it's a guilt-free event for parents to enjoy New Year's with their kids," said Bri Bromberek, marketing manager for the DuPage Children's Museum. "Even if they have plans for later they can still do a morning event for family and friends."
This year's theme was "Build It Big," coinciding with the November opening of the museum's "Monumental" exhibit that offers an introduction to the science, technology and other principles of architecture.
A number of activities went on with a building theme, from construction with cardboard boxes to a collaborative water balloon painting.
Decked out in green work goggles, 8-year-old Mikayla Smith and her brother Evan, 3, hammered nail to wood in a construction house with their mom, Natalie, looking on.
"She (Mikayla) is having fun with more real stuff," Natalie Smith said. "They like experimenting building things; they're into Legos and playing with daddy in the basement."
Living up to its Bubble Bash name, kids like 3-year-old Lucas Podjasek could make bubbles of all shapes and sizes by sinking a Hula-Hoop into a huge vat of bubbly water.
Downstairs, 3-year-old twin boys Cal and John Reinbold and their 7-year-old sister, Sophia, were treated to music of the band Mr. Singer and the Sharp Cookies, a Bubble Bash tradition. Their mom, Melissa, said the kids' favorites were the paint balloons and the "giant bubble."
"It's fun for the kids," Melissa Reinbold said. "This makes New Year's Eve a celebration they can like."
No Bubble Bash is complete, though, without a countdown to noon led by ever-enthusiastic Naperville Mayor George Pradel. Pradel, dressed in a black top hat and tuxedo, fit the festive and fun theme.
"Welcome to the countdown!" Pradel yelled to the kids. "It's been a good year, but it's going to be an even better year because you're going to be a year older."