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County rings in ’08 with crafts, exhibits

STATE COLLEGE — Before First Night came the last day of 2007, when children made crafts, petted reindeer and, much to their delight, got muddy.

And, in some cases, so did their parents.

Six-year-old Kaden Litzinger, of State College, sat in the community room of the borough Municipal Building on Monday afternoon, working on a multicolored poster board project.

She was taking part in the children’s craft fair, one of a multitude of activities offered through the day and into the night Monday by First Night State College, which celebrated 2007 and welcomed 2008 with concerts, puppets, ice sculptures and more.“Zero. Eight,” Litzinger said when asked what her craft project spelled. And what did that mean?“I don’t know,” she said.

Litzinger had had indulged in her favorite activity of the day: the long ice slide in Central Parklet. She still was sporting muddy pink snowpants as she worked on crafts. The problem was the hay thrown down at the base of the slide didn’t do much to battle the mud.

“Take a look at this,” said Kaden’s father, Todd, pointing to his mud-covered rear. “The slide was great. It was muddy but we still had a lot of fun.”

The only dry member of the family, the wife and mother, Dana Mitra, didn’t mind the mess, which extended to their 3-year-old, Carson.

“They’re having fun,” she said with a smile.

Colorful craftsHal and Natalie Hallock are pretty good with a pair of scissors. And they have to be.

The Hallocks run First Night 2008 children’s crafts. That involved, among other things, cutting out almost 2,550 poster board pieces that children used to make their 2008 badges.

“It’s a lot of cutting,” Natalie Hallock said, “but it’s a lot of fun.”

The Hallocks have been offering their services for children’s craft events at First Night for about 12 years. This year each badge, which hangs around the necks of its builder, contained 17 multicolored poster board pieces. The Hallocks cut out enough pieces — by hand — to create 150 badges.

“They call us the dynamic duo,” Hal Hallock said. “It’s just a real joy working with the kids.”

Antlered attractions

Morgan McGinn, 6, of Shamokin, looked right at home in Central Parklet on Monday, smiling for the camera with an elbow propped up against a one-antlered reindeer. Her 11-year-old brother, Mitchell, was smiling by her side.

“I’ve never seen a female or a male reindeer with antlers,” Mitchell said.

“It only has one,” said Morgan.

The siblings had their picture taken with the reindeer in Central Parklet after also taking part in the ice slide and looking at the ice sculptures with their aunt, Melissa Anderson, of State College.

“They really liked all the ice sculptures. But they love that slide,” Anderson said. “I think that was the highlight of the event. But this is a great idea. How often do you keep kids up for midnight on New Year’s Eve?”

Regrets go out with ’07

Inside the State College Municipal Building stood an art exhibit that only had hours to live. It was to go up in flames at 11 p.m.“The Burning Man,” according to the signs beside it, is inspired by ancient traditions and is a metaphorical representation of the old year. People were encouraged to take a strip of paper and write their regrets from the old year, or their resolutions for the new one, and pin them to the Burning Man. Then the exhibit would be burned, “sending both regrets and resolutions heavenward.”The handwritten notes expressed sentiments ranging from the innocent worries of a child to genuine adult regret:

“Pick up my toys.”

“Not fighting with my sister.”

“Bobby!”

“Be less critical of my son, my husband and of myself.”

“I was not more responsible.”

“Remember life is short. Be less grumpy and impatient. Be more joyful.”

Pete Bosak can be reached at 235-3928.

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