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The Neighborhood section The bonfire warmed hay wagon riders
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12th-Annual Night Before New Years Eve Party

  Happy New Year!

As the countdown clock reached zero, the crowd celebrated 2012's coming with noisemakers and poppers. (12/30/2011)

  Food line

Food line volunteer Will Tevan dishes out Laura's Famous Chilidog Chili. Besides the beef dogs and fixings, the food line in 2011 offered chips, pastries, hand-made cookies, kegs of 1919 root beer, punch, hot cocoa and more. (2011)

  Kids Dance drew a constant crowd

Every year, the kids are drawn to the nonstop music and dance contests put on by the DJ's of Kids Dance. Here, a DJ demonstrates break dancing.(2011)

  Madame Tell, fortune teller

Bowling was popular with kids at the new NENA lanes, even when facing the wrong way. (2011)

  The Fishing Pond

The Nokomis Fishing Pond offers some of the best angling in the area! No worms needed. (2011)

  Madame Tell, fortune teller

Fortune teller Madame Tell draws people of all ages with her crystal ball and fortune cards. (2008 shown)

The 2009 Video: "The Night Before New Year's Eve Party" was the subject of a half-hour feature by the Minneapolis Television Network (MTN). Online or over cable, see the night in review, and look for friends and acquaintances among the more than 1,000 attendees. Link
  GalleryPhotos of the: 2006 NBNYE party
2005 NBNYE party
2003-'04 NBNYE parties

2011's Night Before New Year’s Eve Party was Friday, December 30
(updated 1/5/12)

NENA and the Nokomis Community Center/Minneapolis Parks and Recreation were proud to once again co-sponsor this annual community party.   Families throughout the Twin Cities area and out-of-town guests enjoyed the evening.

As always, the entire event was free, but your generous donations will help ensure next year's event..

Highlights included old-fashioned hay rides in a decorative wagon pulled by Rock Isle Farm's giant Percheron horses. While waiting for the ride, guests kept warm and roasted marshmallows around the bonfire. Luminaires lined the walkways, adding a festive touch.

Indoor activities started with the Southwest HS Jazz Ensemble playing in the lounge. Activities included the legendary Nokomis fish pond, games with prizes (basketball shoot, bowling, golf, cup stacking and more), crafts, fortune telling, live music, and a strolling magician.  The ever-popular DJs from KidsDance spun tunes with dance contests and prizes for kids of all ages. Also returning this year was the popular Photo Booth in the main hall.

Refreshments included beef hotdogs with all the toppings, including Laura's Famous Chilidog Chili, chips, fresh hand-made cookies, kegs of 1919 draft root beer, tropical punch, coffee and hot chocolate.

Father Time made an appearance to help ring in the New Year with the traditional countdown, complete with noisemakers, at 7:55. This year, the role of Father Time was played by Robert Miller. It was perhaps fitting that Mr. Miller played Father time as this was his last public appearance as Executive Director of the late Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP), the umbrella for the City's 72 Neighborhood Orgs.

A special Thank You! goes out to the businesses who helped make this all possible through their contributions and discounts. Please say "Thanks" when you patronize the following establishments:

  • Oxendale's Market
  • McDonald's Liquor
  • Fat Lorenzo's Restaurant

We also need to thank the 50 or so excellent volunteers who gave up their time to work before and during the event:

  • This goes especially to the dozen team leaders and floor managers who sat through so many planning meetings and did such a great job of making this look easy to the guests.
  • To the staff of the Nokomis Community Center for all their hard work (and patience).
  • To facepainter Denise Pahl-Jones for donating her time and materials.
  • And finally, to volunteer Susan Patterson for making and baking 1,000 really good cookies from scratch.

Previous Years

In 2010, a snowstorm and zero temps made it difficult for some families to attend. A layer of ice under the new snow made conditions too dangerous for the horses, so the hay rides were canceled. Yet, in spite of all that, every inch of the Nokomis Community Center was transformed into a veritable feast for the senses as residents of all ages from Nokomis East and surrounding neighborhoods came together to celebrate the New Year.

All of this was made possible by the remarkable efforts and energy of NENA volunteers and staff, Nokomis Community Center staff, and by the generous donations of many area businesses.

Roosevelt HS Jazz Ensemble

The Southwest High School Jazz Ensemble entertained guests with jazz and smooth pop in the lounge/reception area for the first hour of the party. (2009)


For the first hour of the evening, the Southwest HS Jazz Ensemble, entertained guests in the lounge. They played excellent jazz and pop classics. Starting at six, the DJ’s of KidsDance made their sixth annual appearance in the gymnasium, keeping children and parents alike boppin’ to a mix of contemporary pop and classic rock and roll. Also in the gym, kids had their faces artfully painted and played games to win candy and other prizes.

At the other end of the building, food and drink was served in the multipurpose room. The hungry crowd ate nearly 600 hot dogs and cleaned out several crockpots of Laura's Famous Chilidog Chile along with all the usual dog fixins, over 8 cases of chips, 3 kegs of 1919 root beer and a dozen gallons of tropical fruit punch.

A strolling magician captivated his audience with clever sleights-of-hand and creative animal balloons that delighted the young crowd. In the craft rooms, children created imaginative New Year's party hats and noisemakers to take home. The Photo Booth, set up in the main (gym) room was ever popular..

2004 was the warmest night in the Night Before New Years Eve party's five-year history, and a light fog made it difficult to keep the paper bag lanterns lit. 2005 was a bit cooler with some light flurries, but the outdoor bonfire tempered the chill for the lines of people waiting to board the popular hayride. 2006 was mild also, with a light and wet snow. 2007 was more typical of a December night, but 2008's party was very cold with a snow at times heavy enough that many families were late arriving. Every year, the old-fashioned hay wagon, pulled by two sturdy white Percherons, is often heard more than seen in the dark as festive riders break into impromptu caroling. Back indoors, a traditional New Year’s countdown, complete with squawkers, poppers, and other noisemakers, always concludes the festivities.

2008 was a great night! With food, entertainment, crafts and games, residents celebrated the upcoming New Year with friends, family and neighbors in a safe, congenial environment. If you weren’t one of the roughly 1,000 participants at last year’s “Night Before New Year’s Eve Party,” you missed a truly magnificent event!

Percherons pulling the hay wagon

The hayride is always a popular destination and keeps the beautiful Percheron horses busy. Yes, it was that cold in 2008.



We’ll see you again on December 30th, 2012!