New celebration focuses on family entertainment for New Year’s Eve

New celebration focuses on family entertainment for New Year's Eve by M. Jill Sundstrom As 1999 draws near, a group of Vermillion residents are planning a different way to ring in the new year.

The Coyote Student Center on The University of South Dakota campus will be open for myriad activities this New Year�s Eve. Although it�s still in the planning stages, the celebration will feature fun for all ages.

John Mueller, associate director for operations at CSC, came up with the idea about a year ago.

�A number of years ago we were invited to a friend�s house for a New Year�s Eve celebration,� he said. �The whole night was planned for the family, including the kids, and I thought ?this is really fun.� Then I read an article about a celebration they have at Illinois State University called ?First Night.� It�s also centered around the family. That�s where this idea came from.�

A planning committee has been working together in Vermillion since September to formulate an event that will include miniature golf, all kinds of games, bingo, karaoke, crafts, movies, snacks, beverages, prizes and party favors. Both USD and community members are involved in getting things organized.

�We�re always looking at ways to build bridges between the community and USD,� said Rick Haught, CSC director. �When John brought up this idea, it was a natural way to continue to do that. We have a facility here that is available on New Year�s Eve, it�s easy to get to, there�s lots of parking and there�s plenty of room.�

The idea is based on a family-oriented, alcohol-free and tobacco-free celebration.

�We�re not looking to change the tradition of New Year�s Eve celebrations,� Haught said. �We just want to provide an option for celebration that�s not currently available.�

�It will be a total family experience,� added Dan Christopherson, who with his wife Gloria is also on the planning committee.

Plans have yet to be finalized, but the doors will open at about 7 p.m., Mueller said. A nominal admission fee will be charged to help cover expenses and build up a fund for future celebrations. Vermillion�s five banks have indicated that they will donate $100 each to help cover costs.

Other committee members include Les Parry, manager of USD Book and Supply, Bob Mayer, superintendent of Vermillion Public Schools, Tom Schaack, vice-president and manager of First National Bank, Genevieve Evans-Taylor, USD Student Activities, Jill Tyler and her husband Rev. Steve Miller of the United Church of Christ and president of the Ministerial Association.

�There is so much to be gained by joining with family and community to celebrate the coming of the new year,� Mueller said. �We just want to create that opportunity.�

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