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Pop goes the new year: It’ll be raining candy-filled balloons at the Sawmill Museum

December 28, 2018

CLINTON — Three men stuffed candy into balloons at the Sawmill Museum on Wednesday in preparation for Monday’s year-end celebration.

“From, basically, 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. we do our New Year’s Eve party,” Museum Director Matthew Parbs said. Staff and volunteers will lead children in six to eight games with prizes and a few New Year-themed crafts at the museum along the riverfront, at 2231 Grant St.

Balloons will fall from the rafters at noon. “And then afterwards is pizza and snacks,” Parbs said.

“In the years past [it’s been for] pretty much any age. Toddlers to 12 years old or so. [That’s] kind of what we design everything for,” he said.

Before nearly 1,000 balloons can be dropped – or filled with air – they are stuffed with Sixlets, Tootsie Rolls and Sour Punch candies. Sawmill Museum Board Member Bob Alt said he’d be filling balloons ”’til Matt says we’re done.”

Parbs has an air compressor for inflating the balloons, and this year the museum invested in clips for the ends of the balloons. Tying all those balloons can create blisters on a person’s fingers, said Alt and Scott Wyant of AARP Foundation.

The clips didn’t keep the balloons inflated very long when tested, Alt said, but twisting the ends of the balloons before putting the clips on them can keep the balloons inflated about 24 hours.

“We’re planning this year to drop them from somewhere in the center [of the museum],” Parbs said.

The museum has an exhibit where the balloons were dropped last year, he said.

“In years past, we’ve done balloon bags,” but last year the museum invested in a large net to hold the balloons in the rafters until time for the noon drop.

“A couple of volunteers will put them up,” Parbs said.

Parbs wasn’t sure how that would be done. Tall ladders or a winch system are possibilities.

“Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” Alt said.

What goes up, must also come down. One year the balloon bags came down as they were supposed to, Parbs said, but the apparatus used to hold them to the rafters stayed up until the museum could find a way to get it down.

Just before noon New Year’s Eve, everyone will count down the seconds until noon. Once the balloons are on the floor, children have to pop them to get to the candy inside.

“That’s the best part,” Parbs said.

It lasts from noon to about 12:05.

Most of the children stomp the balloons. Some squeeze them or lay on them.

Balloons are not all alike, Parbs said.

“These should require a stomp,” he said of the balloons he stuffed with candy. Other balloons may be harder to break.

“If you can survive the countdown, that’s usually louder than the popping of balloons,” said Parbs.

The museum has hosted a children’s New Year’s party since 2011, Parbs said, and attendance is usually between 250 and 300. Admission is $6 for adults and $5 for children.

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©2018 the Clinton Herald (Clinton, Iowa)

Visit the Clinton Herald (Clinton, Iowa) at clintonherald.com

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