Naperville rings in new year at Carillon events
By Hank Beckman For The Sun December 31, 2012 7:38PM
Jason Frietag and his daughter Lily, 4, listen to the bells play a song Monday during a family New Years celebration at the Milennium Carillon in Naperville.
Updated: February 3, 2013 6:17AM
The coldest night of the year couldn’t stop about 300 people from ringing in the new year — twice — at the Millennium Carillon in Naperville Monday.
Continuing the six-year-old tradition of counting down to the new year — once early for families with young children and then again at midnight — Mayor George Pradel counted down the seconds until 6 p.m. for the family program and at midnight for the traditional ringing in of the new year.
“Happy New Year in Naperville,” Pradel called out as Tim Sleep, the city’s carillon player, rang out the familiar notes of “Auld Lang Syne” on the bells of the Carillon.
CLTV News Anchor Dolly McCarthy warmed up the crowd before the countdown at 6 p.m.
“Are you ready to ring in the new year,” she asked, prompting cheers from the crowd.
McCarthy promised that “2013 (would be) another epic year in Naperville,” and took New Year’s resolutions from children in the crowd.
May, 4 years old, said she would “help my mom with the new baby.” Ella, 8, said she resolved to “eat more candy.” ileen, 5, didn’t have a resolution, but wanted everyone to know that it was her birthday.
The crowd seemed to take the cold weather in stride.
“It’s a little chilly,” Pradel said, “but we’ll get over that.”
The Naperville Park District has officially sponsored the New Year’s Eve countdowns since 2006, providing craft activities for children and opening the Riverwalk Eatery for free hot chocolate.
The Downtown Naperville Alliance sponsored a scavenger hunt Monday at downtown shops, and provided face painting and music.
Sleep and Sue Bergeron played waltzes, duets, and selections from Handel’s “Royal Fireworks” before the midnight countdown.
Sleep said the Carillon has been a gathering place for the community since it opened in 2000.
“It’s sort of a natural gathering spot,” he said before the countdown. “People gathered here instinctively after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.”
Greg Smitas and his family have lived in Naperville for six years, but had never attended the countdown before Monday.
“This is the first time for us,” he said. “We’re looking forward to it.”
Caitlyn Smitas said she was, “excited.”
The 6 p.m. countdown meshed perfectly with the actual New Year’s celebration in the United Kingdom, and Naperville’s English transplants and visitors took advantage of the happy coincidence.
“We can pretend we’re celebrating with our friends (back home),” said Gill Brooks, a four-year Naperville resident, at the event with her daughter, Lottie.
Alison Croke is an accountant from outside London who has lived in Naperville with her family all of eight days,
“It was my husband’s job,” she said of the move.