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10,9,8,7...Ways to ring in the New Year in the Brainerd lakes area

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It’s an evening filled with lights, noise, family and friends — and more often than not some celebratory champagne when the clock strikes midnight. New Year’s Eve is the last of the “winter holiday season” for many; the last big hoorah and the finale of parties, presents and an overwhelming amount of food. And of course the last day of 2012.

So what are some of the things to do in our beloved lakes area on Dec. 31? We rustled some of the happenings in the area and some different ideas for you to ring in the new year. Cheers to 2013!

For those celebrating with kids...

Aubrey Dabill, 30, of Brainerd, said a night of dressup is in store for her and her daughter, Addison, 5, as they countdown to midnight.

“We will probably just lay low at the house,” said Dabill at her home where Addison showed off potential New Year’s Eve outfits. “Our neighbor has a daughter Addie’s age so we might get together with them, have some appetizers and wine and Addie loves the Welch’s Sparkling Juice, so we will get that for the kids. Nothing too exciting but should be fun.”

Dabill said that with all the excitement Addison tends to make it to the countdown at midnight, but for those kids that need some extra entertainment, here are some ideas to keep the little ones entertained while the adults entertain other guests.

Countdown balloons — Make a balloon for each hour and stick a fun activity inside. Beginning at 12 p.m., have the kids pop the balloon and do the activity on the sheet.

• Scavenger hunt — You can get all your party guests involved in this one. Hide items around your home related to New Years such as hats, whistles, poppers, etc., and have teams hunt them down. Have a prize set for the winner.

• Ice skating — Why not lace’em up? Brainerd Parks and Recreation Director Tony Sailer said skating rinks will be open on both New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day from noon until 8 p.m. Currently Sailer said that two hockey rinks and one pleasure rink are open at Mill Avenue Park; one hockey rink and one pleasure rink is open at Bane Park; and one pleasure rink is open at Gregory Park. Sailer added that loner skates are available at all of the parks for no charge as well as helpers for those just learning to skate.

Other family friendly activities in the area are at the local churches. Good Shepherd Free Lutheran Church in Brainerd will be hosting its own “family worry free New Year’s Eve party,” beginning at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 31. The evening will be complete with games, food and fellowship.

For the adults...

It tends to be the party of the year — literally — with adults going out to bars and grabbing some drinks with friends. Of course that is one option – don’t forget to plan ahead for a safe ride. Brainerd Area Taxi will be in full service but reminds those looking for a ride to call ahead before the rush. Also some bars in Nisswa along with lodges will sometimes offer free shuttle rides to and from, so check in with your location to see if that service is available.

For those looking to go outside the bar scene, here are some options:

• Snowmobiling – All this white stuff is actually a welcome sight for outdoor enthusiasts this year. Grab some friends and hit the trails on the sleds. It is still not recommended to head out on the lakes in the area just yet and if you do, be sure to check the ice thickness before attempting it.

• Football games — Sports fans rejoice, it’s BCS bowl time again this weekend and Dec. 31 has four games lined up for your viewing pleasure. NC State and Vanderbelt battle in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl at noon on ESPN, followed by the Hyundai Sun Bowl at 2 p.m. on CBS with USC and Georgia Tech. At 3:30 p.m., Iowa State and Tulsa repeat last year’s matchup in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl on ESPN and concludes with LSU and Clemson at 7:30 p.m. in the Chick-fil-A Bowl again on ESPN.

Hockey fans missing out on the NHL — it’s gone fans — can see young prospects in the IIHF’s World Junior Championships. Live game times are early, but replays are on with USA and Slovakia and Canada and Russia featured on New Year’s Eve.

• Romantic dinner — Plenty of restaurants in the area offer special dinners and deals on New Year’s Eve. Grab your loved one and head out to grab some delicious lobster, steak or prime rib at your favorite spot for a quieter evening.

And the top thing to do in the lakes area on New Year’s Eve...Have fun!

As the classic New Year’s song “Auld Lang Syne” swoons, no matter how you spend the evening counting down to midnight, the most important way to spend it is with those close to you. End the year and begin the new year just right.


Here’s are some of the ways Brainerd lakes area residents are celebrating the arrival of 2013, shared with The Dispatch on our Facebook page.

• Faye Thompson Kaltenbach — “Staying home alone as my hubby has a party to go to, and hoping he remembers to call to say Happy Birthday before I go to bed at 12:03 a.m. I have to stay up until 12:02 a.m., as that is the time I was born 44 years ago!”

• Christian Impey — “My family will be in Apollo Bay, Australia when the ball drops.”

• Joanne Pickar — “We have an annual neighborhood party every year. Lots of appetizers, a few beverages and the great game; Left, right, center...bring in the New Year watching the ball fall and Iron Butterflys and Spice Truffle Cake!”

• Judy Hammel — “I will be in Des Moines, Iowa where I moved to and at my church there on New Year’s Eve playing games and eating lots of snacks, enjoying my five children who love to play board and card games. And wishing my church family a Happy New Year and kissing my loving husband.”

• Kim Kirk — “I will be in Rochester, Minn., at the Mayo Clinic trying to figure out what is wrong with my husbands health...I wish I could say we were going to have a candlelit dinner with just the two of us and a wonderful garlic butter and lobster dinner on the grill, but if I just get my husband back with no sinus issues, I would be more than happy to take an eternity. Love you forever, your loving wife who will stand by your side forever.”

• Ken Stack — “I will be in Rapid City, S.D., shooting the city’s fireworks for them. Wish I was home in Brainerd for my New Year, but it’s hard to beat getting paid to put on a show like that for so many people on New Years night!”

• Michelle Stenglein — “Not far from home, watching the ball drop on TV and playing board games with my family.”

JESSI PIERCE, staff writer, may be reached at 855-5859 or Follow her on Twitter at (@jessi_pierce).