Orpheum Noon Day Drop

A bundle of balloons sits ready Monday, Dec. 30, 2019, for the New Year's Eve Noon Day Drop at Orpheum Children's Science Museum in downtown Champaign, which lets kids experience New Year's Eve festivities without staying up until midnight.

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CHAMPAIGN — After tying hundreds of balloons for the Orpheum Children’s Science Museum’s Noon Day Drop the last two New Year’s Eves, Xander Hazel has learned a few important things.

There are no handy hacks to tying a balloon, at least that he’s discovered. The only way to make the process easier comes before the balloons are filled with air.

“There are no tricks, but I will say it does depend on what kind of balloon you get,” he said. “My first year running the event back in 2017, I purchased smaller balloons, about 10 inches in diameter, and it was a pain in the butt to tie all of those because you just have to do a lot more. You really do have to assess the quality of the balloon, because if there’s not much room for tying, it’s going to be a painful day.”

He’s also realized not to put too much pressure on himself as the person releasing the balloons.

The event is made to replicate a New Year’s Eve celebration for kids who don’t stay up until midnight, and he used to become nervous as the clock approached noon.

“What I realized is that once the balloons drop, it doesn’t matter if it’s exactly at the strike of noon,” he said. “Kids will like it nonetheless.”

The event will remain mostly unchanged from recent years. Hundreds of balloons will be suspended high above the floor in a long net. Like recent years, a DJ will play kid-friendly songs.

Hazel will make sure to grab the mic a few times to promote a GoFundMe campaign that will help maintain the museum and pay for projects.

For the first time, Lodgic Everyday Community will provide a room for kids who can’t handle the noise and excitement on the theater floor.

“If it’s too loud for some kids, they can go in there and have sort of a calm space with sensory activities,” Hazel said.