By danny restivo
As the final hours of 2012 ticked away, families gathered at various venues in the downtown area to ring in the new year.
From the Covelli Centre to Federal Street, parents and children from around the Mahoning Valley convened for First Night Youngstown 2013 on Monday night. Sixteen locations throughout the downtown area had activities for families.
“It’s just an alcohol-free fun night for families to get together and enjoy the city on New Year’s Eve,” said Shaneka Colpetro, a youth director for First Night Youngstown 2013.
Colpetro assisted visitors at the Covelli, which offered ice skating for children and adults.
The ice rink was the first stop for the Vaupel family during the evening. Tina Vaupel of Vienna said she, her two children and husband had been attending the event for the past five years.
“It’s just a good family event for us to be together on New Year’s Eve,” she said.
While her husband skated with her 8-year-old and 10-year-old daughters, Tina sat in the stands and planned the next event to attend.
“This is always our first stop,” she said. “We usually get a good idea of where we’ll go after they finish skating.”
North of the center, an equally festive and family oriented atmosphere was at OH WOW! The Roger & Gloria Jones Children’s Center for Science & Technology on West Federal Street. Children could be seen at every exhibit the museum had to offer.
Bobby Havrilla of Poland watched as his 7-year-old son, Vince, and friend, Elias Diamondiz, 7, also of Poland, used wooden blocks to build a large structure that looked like a Jenga tower. Shortly after reaching 4 feet, the tower crumbled. It was a fun New Year’s Eve moment for the parents nonetheless.
“It just nice for us to come out here as a family and enjoy ourselves,” Havrilla said. “It allows for us adults and our children to be together for a family evening on New Year’s Eve.”
Ella Perrone, 10, and Emma Castronova, 9, both of Niles, ran from exhibit to exhibit at the museum. Both girls said they were going to try and make it to midnight without falling asleep. They also shared their 2013 resolution.
“We’re going to get all A’s in 2013,” the pair said.
Next to Ella and Emma were Laila McCaughtry, 7, of Lowellville, and her father, Bill McCaughtry. The father-and-daughter duo were building a makeshift sand castle at one of the water-based exhibits in the museum.
“We’re having a great time tonight,” McCaughtry said. “We don’t really know what we’re making, but we’re having a fun time.”
While families played and learned at OH WOW!, bands played across the street at 20 Federal Place, Eric Thompson performed magic and comedy at the First Presbyterian Church hall on Wick Avenue, and children enjoyed swimming at the downtown YMCA on North Champion Street, among other activities.
All events were followed by fireworks at 9 p.m. and again at midnight.
First Night 2013 celebrations also occurred in Salem and Canfield.