2013 is here

YOUNGSTOWN – A multitude of tiny boots and hats overtook downtown on New Year’s Eve, as parents brought their children out to First Night Youngstown.

Across the street from Joe Maxx Coffee Co. on West Federal Street, a group of women could be found laughing at each other’s jokes and keeping warm as they waited for a horse-drawn carriage to return. Christine Silvestri, from the South Side of Youngstown, was among them. This is her 11th year volunteering with the event.

“I just enjoy coming downtown. We have a good time,” Silvestri said. “The kids enjoy it.”

As the carriage arrived the women helped direct waiting families onto the ride while Sandy Best took photos for the families coming off. Best said she and her husband, Jim, who was driving the carriage, have been working the event for at least 15 years. They own the Best Horse Drawn Carriage Service which is run out of Gustavus.

“It’s something we look forward to every year,” Sandy Best said.

One of the families she snapped a photo of was the Schiedels from Struthers. Kylie Schiedel, 4, petted the horse’s nose while her parents stood nearby.

“There’s a lot of activities for both kids,” Jolene Schiedel said, “I would definitely suggest it.”

Jolene and her husband, Matt, were attending the event for the first time with their children, Kylie and Brayden, 1.

Meanwhile farther down West Federal Street, groups of friends were enjoying concerts and meals in local restaurants while the OH WOW! Children’s Center stayed open late for the kids.

Suzanne Barbati, executive director of OH WOW!, said the center was participating for the first time in the New Year’s events. The center was abuzz with children flying paper airplanes, building stick houses and playing with water fountains.

For the special night, Barbati said they had a section set up for the children to participate in experiments with dry ice and to add balloons labeled with their names to a large tarp hanging from the ceiling which would act as the children’s own version of the ball drop – albeit at a kid-friendly 8:30 p.m.

Danita Anderson stood outside the New Year’s Eve section of the center watching her son DeMar Brown, 10, break apart bananas frozen with dry ice. For her family, it was a more exciting alternative than their typical New Year’s.

“We’re usually at home watching TV,” Anderson said.

The Ricchiuti family also spent time at OH WOW! before heading to the Covelli Centre to go ice skating.

“So far so good, we just went to OH WOW! and this is our second stop,” said Dan Ricchiuti as he laced up his skates, “It’s nice to support the downtown.”

The family from Canfield, Poland and Akron spent their time ice skating before planning to watch the fireworks outside the Covelli Centre at 9 p.m.

Jodi Wiseman, of Canfield, was volunteering at the entrance of the Covelli Centre selling $10 badges that gave event-goers access to venues around the city.

“I couldn’t see myself doing anything else,” Wiseman said.

She has been volunteering for at least eight years. She said the turnout this year was not as large as last year, but attributed that to the snow.

“If I wasn’t doing this,” Wiseman said, “I’d go crazy.”

The night ended with more fireworks and a ball drop at the Covelli Centre at midnight.