MONTGOMERY: It’s might have been a little late, but students learn and enjoy ‘New Year Around the World’ event (with multiple photos)

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By Lea Kahn, Staff Writer
MONTGOMERY — Excitement rising in their voices, the children counted down 10, 9, 8 . . . 3, 2,1 — and to their delight, down came Blazer the Bluebird, the Village Elementary School mascot, to welcome 2016.
Well, maybe it was 29 days late and it wasn’t a crystal ball, but that didn’t matter to the Village Elementary School students and their families in the school gym, who had come to celebrate New Year’s Eve Friday night.
Students at the grades 3-4 school researched countries around the world and how they celebrate New Year’s Eve. Out in the hallways last week, posters lined the walls that explained the customs of countries from A to Z — Australia to Zimbabwe.
“It’s an annual event,” said parent Nimisha Bhatt, who co-chaired “New Year Around the World” with Maryann Post. “The children do research on a country and find out in each country, what the traditions are to celebrate New Year’s Eve.”
As each child entered the school Friday night, he or she was given a “passport.” At the bottom of the passport was a list of questions for the child to answer, based on the posters in the hallways. Children who completed the passport/scavenger hunt were given a small prize.
The scavenger hunt is an educational way for the children to find out what really happens in countries around the world, and it keeps them engaged, said Maureen Daniels. She is the co-president, along with Kristen Shlossberg, of the Montgomery Elementary School Parent Teacher Association.
Meanwhile, the children scurried up and down the hallways, looking for the answers to questions that ranged from “What color of clothes and underwear do people wear in Italy to celebrate New Year” to “What do people in Peru eat to celebrate New Year’s Eve.”
(The answers? Italians wear red clothing and underwear for good luck; Peruvians eat chicken, turkey and guinea pig. In Spain, people eat 12 grapes, one at a time, at each stroke of the clock at midnight.)
Justin Miller, who is a fourth-grader at Village Elementary School, said he thought “New Year Around the World” was fun because “you learn about different countries.”
“In Mexico, they dump out water from the window. I don’t know why. In South Africa, people throw out old furniture and appliances from the windows. I don’t know why,” Justin said, glancing down at the answers on his passport.
After Justin answered the questions, he joined his friends in the gym. The children could play games, from a bean bag toss to shooting hoops and bowling. The football toss was popular with the boys, who pushed each other out of the way as they grabbed the football. A DJ played music.
Then, promptly at 8:15 p.m., the countdown for New Year’s Eve — Village Elementary School’s version, anyway — began.
“Are you ready for 2016,” the DJ said. The children let out a deafening response — “Yes.”
On the screen behind the DJ, celebrations around the world were displayed, from fireworks being lit off on a barge in the middle of the river in Vancouver, to similar celebrations and displays in Sydney, Australia and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and London, England.
The countdown began, and promptly at 1, Blazer the Bluebird was lowered to the stage. As the DJ played “Auld Lang Syne,” the tops came off the children’s confetti containers and blue and red streamers filled the air.
And another year bit the dust.

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