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Ring in the new year at these special events

12/22/2015 12:10PM ● Published by J. Chambless

There will be fireworks at Penn's Landing at 6 p.m. and midnight on Dec. 31.

By John Chambless
and Richard L. Gaw
Staff Writers

When it comes to ushering in the new year, you can either go big, or you can stay home.

If you decide to step out for a special celebration on Dec. 31, there are plenty of nearby options, whether it's a romantic night for two or a family party with the kids.

The Mendenhall Inn is offering a New Year's Eve Gala in the Grand Ballroom.

 For many years, the Hionis family name has been synonymous with fine dining and hospitality, and this New Year's Eve at the Mendenhall Inn (Route 52, Mendenhall), presented by Lou Hionis and his talented group of chefs and hosts, promises to keep the family's high standards for quality alive.

The New Year's Eve Gala, to be held from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. in the Grand Ballroom, will feature a five-hour premium open bar, continuous pourings of merlot and chardonnay through dinner, a champagne toast at midnight, a DJ and dancing.

Did we mention the food? After sampling a one-hour cocktail and hors d'oeuvres introduction -- which will include a crab cake station -- guests will enjoy the inn's award-winning mushroom bisque soup, Ceasar salad, and center cut filet mignon and stuffed shrimp with crabmeat imperial. After dinner, coffee and dessert stations will feature a decadent array of sweets, including peanut butter mousse, chocolate royale, key lime tarts, a bananas Foster flambe station, and more. The cost of the entire evening is $109.95 per person, inclusive.

If you're not up for driving home afterwards, make your reservations now to stay at the inn overnight for only $139. For more information and reservations, call 610-388-2100.

Just down the street from the Mendenhall Inn, Station 52, the newly opened casual dining spot (at 323 Kennett Pike), will offer its own New year's Eve Party from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., which will inclue a four-hour open bar, dinner buffet featuring a wide variety of casual food, a soft pretzel bar, a DJ and dancing. Tickets in advance for $50 each ($60 at the door). For more information, call 610-388-1033, or visit www.station52.com.

At the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, in the heart of Kennett Square, a 500-pound stainless steel mushroom glittering with thousands of lights will be lowered with a countdown to the new year. It is the finale of Midnight in the Square, Kennett Square’s family-style New Year’s Eve bash with music, food and fun.

The Mushroom Drop is the highlight of the Midnight in the Square celebration in Kennett Square.

 Midnight in the Square includes: Children’s activities starting at 6 p.m. on South Union Street, near The Garage, with face painting, balloon art, games and live entertainment; the raising and lighting of the mushroom at 8 p.m. in the center of Kennett Square so that young children can experience the Mushroom Drop a little earlier; food trucks from across the region on State Street beginning at 6 p.m; and a heated party tent open at 9 p.m.

The $10 cover charge includes access to the tent all evening, New Year’s Eve hats and noisemakers. Kennett Brewing Company and Flickerwood Winery will have food and beverages for sale; and the Funsters take the stage at 10 p.m., and are scheduled to play until 1 a.m.

General admission is a donation of a non-perishable food item for the Kennett Food Cupboard. There will be a $10 cover charge for access to the heated tent. Parking is available at the Exelon parking lot. Free shuttle buses will bring guests from these parking lots to Broad and State streets, and return guests from this location to their cars after the Mushroom Drop. Alcohol is not permitted on the streets.

For more information, visit www.midnightinthesquare.com.

You could put together an early New Year's Eve by visiting the Brandywine River Museum of Art (Route 1, Chadds Ford, www.brandywine.org) for the annual “Brandywine Christmas” exhibit. There will be a landscaped, operating O-gauge model train display, a collection of rare antique dolls dressed in vintage clothing, thousands of whimsical Critters (ornaments and decorations handcrafted by Brandywine volunteers from natural materials) displayed on towering trees, and special events. Admission is $15 for adults, $10 for seniors, $6 for students and children ages 6 and older (free for children 5 and younger and members). The museum is open until 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 31.

You could take a short drive to Longwood Gardens (Route 1, Kennett Square, www.longwoodgardens.org), where the picturesque gardens will be filled with the sounds of the season, with special New Year’s Eve performances from 2 to 9 p.m., including strolling musicians, the venue's historic organ, a barbershop quartet and more. Open Air Theatre fountain shows, set to holiday music, will run on the hour from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and every five minutes from 3:30 to 10 p.m. Timed tickets are required. Admission is $27 for adults, $24 for seniors, $13 for ages 5 to 18, and free for ages 4 and younger.

Here's a different way to spend your New Year's Eve with friends: From 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., Timber Lanes (1800 Baltimore Pike, Oxford) is offering a bowling special that includes four hours of bowling for you and your friends, plus shoe rental, one pizza and a pitcher per lane, all for $115.16. Noisemakers, hats and other New Year's regalia will be provided.

You can also keep the Christmas spirit alive a little bit longer by taking a free drive through the annual light display at the Herr's Headquarters (20 Herr Drive, Nottingham, www.herrs.com). The large display will be open from dusk through dawn on Dec. 31, and continues through Jan. 3. There is no charge.

Make reservations now to spend your New Year's Eve at Brandywine Prime: Seafood and Chops @ Chadds Ford Inn (1617 Baltimore Pike, Chadds Ford), located in the 300-year-old inn, in the heart of Chadds Ford. Dinner will be served from 5 p.m. until the last seating at 10:30 p.m. A DJ will be spinning familiar tunes and house music from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m., and the tavern area will be open for dancing, party favors and a champagne toast at midnight.

After ringing in the new year, stick around for Brandywine Prime's famous New Year's Eve brunch from 12:30 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. The buffet will include artisan meats and cheeses, smoked salmon, bagels, eggs, bacon, country sausage, eggs Benedict, pasta salad, mini sandwich wraps, fresh fruit and more. The cost of the entire package is $49.95 per person, plus gratuity. For reservations, call 610-388-8088, or visit www.brandywineprime.com.

At The Gables at Chadds Ford (423 Baltimore Pike, Chadds Ford), Michael Stegossi will be playing dinner music on the piano from 5 to 8 p.m. Call 610-388-7700 or visit www.thegablesatchaddsford.com.
Feel like taking a short drive? Philadelphia will ring in 2016 not once, but two times, during the SugarHouse New Year’s Eve Fireworks on the Delaware River Waterfront. With shows at 6 p.m. and midnight, revelers of all ages will have a chance to celebrate. There are plenty of great places to watch the spectacular show.

The Market at Liberty Place (148 W. State Street in Kennett Square) will be ringing in the new year from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Dec. 31, with live music, drink specials and raffles all night long. For additional information, call 610-925-3411, or visit www.themarketatlibertyplace.com.
Get a front-row view from the Blue Cross RiverRink WinterFest, a holiday pop-up at Penn’s Landing. Before the show, lace up a pair of skates and do a few laps on the regulation-size ice rink, grab a warm beverage in the Lodge or relax in front of a fire pit and enjoy waterfront views. The Party on Ice from 5 to 8 p.m. is perfect for families. And the festivities inside the Winterfest tent add a cozy touch to the holiday celebration.
You can also game your way into 2016 at Dave & Busters on the Delaware River Waterfront. Bring the family for a fun night of games, dinner and entertainment before getting a front-row indoor seat for the early fireworks show at 6 p.m. ($50 per person, including a $40 Power Card; $25 per person without Power Card).

For more information about New Year's Eve events in the city, visit www.visitphilly.com.

If you have young kids who can't stay up too late, you can ring in 2016 at the Please Touch Museum (4231 Avenue of the Republic, Philadelphia, www.pleasetouchmuseum.org). Doors open at 9 a.m. At 10 seconds to noon, count down the seconds to the big ball drop. There will be a seecond countdown at 1 p.m. The museum closes at 3 p.m. Seating is first-come, first-served in Hamilton Hall for the countdown. Advanced tickets are solely for discounted pricing. Purchasing an advanced ticket does not mean you’ll be able to avoid a line or be granted early access. Dress for the weather, because the line will stretch out the door before the event. Online ticket purchases are available through Dec. 30, for $25 each.


The Mummers will strut in Philadelphia on Jan. 1.

 Mummers fans from near and far are invited to Broad Street where the Mummers Parade kicks off at City Hall an hour earlier than in previous years – at 9 a.m. Spectators can enjoy the parade from three performance zones as more than 10,000 glittering and colorful Mummers strut and dance down Broad Street. The parade route will take the performing groups down Broad Street from City Hall to Washington Avenue. Of course, New Year's Day in Philadelphia means the Mummers, and you can catch all the action in person. The 2016 Philadelphia Mummers Parade will pay tribute to the city’s cultural and ethnic diversity by stepping off on Jan. 1 with a new Philadelphia Division.

The 2016 parade features six divisions, including the new Philadelphia Division, with the San Mateo Carnavaleros, a group of vibrant costumed dancers leading off the parade, along with the Second 2 None drill team from West Philadelphia, and the "Miss Fancy" Brigade – the LGBT group comprised of the leading female impersonators in Philadelphia.

Next comes the Fancy Division, with their sequin-studded lavish costumes and feathered glamour, followed by the men of the Wench brigades in bonnets and bloomers, waving multi-tiered parasols. Then it’s the Comics, who parody current political issues and pop culture. Finally, after all 17 are judged, the String Bands will march down Broad Street.

For the best view, the Grand Stand entertainment zone, on Dilworth Plaza at 15th and Market streets, will feature more than 1,200 ticketed bleacher seats. Additional drill spots are located at the Union League at Broad and Sansom streets, and at Broad and Carpenter streets.

Tickets for the Mummers Fancy Brigade Finale at the Pennsylvania Convention Center (11th and Arch streets in Philadelphia) are on sale. Reserved, center section tickets for the noon family show and the 5 p.m. judged show are $25; reserved seats and the two side sections are $20. Tickets for groups of 15 or more are $18 and $23. Children ages 3 and younger are admitted free. Food and refreshments are available at both shows. To order tickets, visit www.comcasttix.com or call 1 800-298-4200.

Another family-friendly activity is MummersFest at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, where visitors can make crafts, try on authentic Mummers costumes for pictures, and watch the clubs rehearse their drills. There will be 30-minute backstage tours of the show props and floats. MummersFest hours are Dec. 31 from noon to 6 p.m. Tickets are available at the door of the Pennsylvania Convention Center, at the Independent Visitors Center and via ComcastTix, for $4 per person.

For more information, visit www.phillymummers.com.


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