For those looking to celebrate the new year in a more wholesome manner, a local Vassar church is offering a festive night for the whole family.
First United Methodist Church in Vassar, 139 N. Main St., Vassar, is throwing its sixth annual Community Family New Year’s Eve Party with doors opening at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 31 at the church.
This year-end party is alcohol free and is open to the community regardless of church membership or city of residence.
The party is coordinated by wife-husband team Harmony and Mike Sanders who were inspired by a New Year’s Eve event in Fenton several years ago called, “Fenton Jubilee.”
Harmony Sanders wanted to make a version in Vassar.
“It was a nice family event,” Harmony Sanders said. “It was a lot larger but then they stopped doing it and we really didn’t have a place to go. So I decided to try and create whatever we could come up with – an event on our own. It was important for me to have a fun place to go to. I enjoy having the event and I see it’s enjoyable for others.”
Harmony Sanders said she doesn’t appreciate drinking and decided to keep the event at the church, which she and her husband also attend. Festivities will take place inside the church fellowship area – a 40-by-120-foot long facility, and in the church sanctuary.
Tickets are available in advanced for $3 and are limited because the church’s facility is only able to hold a maximum of 110 people. Last year there were 85 attendees.
“We were looking for a place that families can go have a safe, fun evening,” she added. “We mostly cater to the families, senior citizens and people who don’t have a place to go.”
Harmony Sanders said the event is funded through the help of donations from at least 15 local businesses like Vassar Theatre.
The doors open at 7 p.m. but festivities don’t start until 7:30 p.m., according to the event flyer.
Attendees can expect to find activities for all ages including crafts, bingo with prizes for seniors, a magic show for kids, face painting, balloon artist and dancing. At midnight, a “lighted ball” will drop to celebrate the new year.
Light refreshments will be served that will include nachos and popcorn.
There will also be a silent auction for 12 prizes people can bid on throughout the evening during the party.
Mike Sanders said music will be played, starting out with hits from the 1950s and moving on to modern tracks as the night progresses. He said he expects up to 75 people will show up for the party.
“What we’re trying to do is integrate a few folks that we know are regulars from our church with the community – get the community involved – that’s why we call it a community event,” said Mike Sanders. “It’s for everyone in the community. We open the doors to all of Vassar.”
Returning this year is a glow dance for the kids. Mike Sanders said the dance was a hit last year as kids wore glow sticks and all the lights in the building were turned off. He said the music was cranked loud and the children are allowed to dance for 20 minutes until they are worn out.
Arthur Reimus, a Vassar resident, said he thinks the the event and the idea behind it is excellent.
“I had reservations before I went to the first one,” Reimus said. “It’s put on so well and done so well I’ve been back every year since. For $3, you really can’t beat it.”
Another aspect Reimus liked about the event was the lack of alcohol. Being able to travel six blocks from his home, play games for kids and not having to worry about drunken fights at the bar or on the way home make it enjoyable, Reimus said.
“It’s perfect, really,” Reimus added. “It’s for the community; it’s not just for the church members. We have lots of people that go there with their kids that don’t belong at our church. It’s good outreach for our church – for the community.”
Those interested can order a ticket before the event by calling 989-553-0638.
Debanina Seaton is a reporter for The Advertiser and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.