Several area events on Sunday made it possible to celebrate the new year without staying up until midnight on New Year’s Eve.
JOLO Winery and Vineyard in Pilot Mountain offered holiday tapas starting at 11:30 a.m., a New Year’s Eve dinner at Shelton Vineyard’s Harvest Grill in Dobson began at 5:30 p.m., Old North State Winery in Mount Airy served a special three-course holiday dinner benefiting the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History, with a first seating at 6 p.m.
Area children followed up the the Musuem dinner with two hours of crafts, pizza and fun at the museum with a balloon drop and sparkling cider toast at 8 p.m., billed as “Midnight in the Azores,” named in honor of the islands off the coast of Portugal where the new year arrives four hours ahead of Mount Airy, deemed the perfect time for children to celebrate.
“I am learning so much about eighth grade science,” said Mark Brown, of the complexities of a balloon drop inside the museum’s clock tower.
“They’re acting like living things,” said Brown of the 150 balloons at the top of the museum’s clock tower, secured by what Sonya Laney, director of educations and programs, described as an impressive, technologically-advanced tarp held in place by zip ties and twine. The balloons had previously been stored in plastic trash bags and accumulated enough static electricity that Brown wasn’t sure they’d fall when released. “Most of them are sticking to the bottom of the stairs,” he said.
Anticipation ran high among the children toasting the new year at the bottom of the unheated clock tower as they waited for the balloons to fall while sporting the new year’s hats they had made themselves an hour before. Lights in the clock tower were turned off and replaced by red and green disco lights at two minutes before midnight, Azorean time.
In the end, gravity prevailed over static electricity when the zip ties were released, and the new year was welcomed by children and relieved museum staff and volunteers.
Earlier in the evening, the children had eaten a dinner of take-out pizza, and led by education director Laney and Kate Rauhauser-Smith, decorated and constructed their own festive hats. Meanwhile across the street at Old North State Winery, parents were feasting on chef Chris Wishart’s three-course New Year’s dinner, with entrée choices of individual Beef Wellington, Grouper filet or Maryland-style crab cakes.
Down the road in Dobson, The Harvest Grill had booked 185 reservations for New Year’s Eve. “It’s the biggest night we’ve ever had,” said pastry chef Frances Draughn, who was also taking care of the front of the house. After dinner, guests had the option to continue the evening with music and dancing at The Barn at Heritage Farm, with shuttles ferrying guests back and forth.
Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699.