Ten-year-olds Ava Bennett and Bella Brewer sported black handle-bar mustaches painted under their noses, with Ava explaining that the pair, along with a friend, were supposed to be addressed as the Three Mustache-keers.
The two friends were among the crowds that swarmed Sunday to the new Family Festival at The Gateway, part of Salt Lake City's three-day New Year's celebration, EVE.
Bella attended last year's EVE at the Salt Palace and expressed disappointment that the bounce-houses and sumo-wrestling suits that graced last year's event were gone. Nevertheless, she planned to watch shows at Clark Planetarium, ice-skate at The Gallivan Center and bop along to Blind Pilot headlining that night's music schedule. "Mom is going to bring lots of scarves," Ava said of the frigid temperatures.
National acts were booked to perform at The Gallivan Center in the hope of attracting 20- to 30-somethings to this year's fourth iteration of EVE. But the event is also featuring a renewed focus on activities geared toward families and children at The Gateway, neighboring Clark Planetarium and the children's museum, Discovery Gateway.
Online sales of $15 passes have been brisk, said Nick Como, spokesman for the Downtown Alliance, which sponsors the event. Sales for this edition have outpaced last year's by 15 percent, so expectations are that more than 30,000 people will attend at least one day of the festival, breaking last year's record.
The largest congregation of families and children gathered on Sunday at The Gateway, the new headquarters of family-friendly activities now that the Salt Palace Convention Center is no longer involved with EVE. The Family Festival was held on Rio Grande Street in a vacant store that once was home to J. Crew.
At 4:30 p.m., about 50 children with parents in tow were inside the store, watching puppet shows, having their faces painted, getting balloon animals, bouncing on glow-in-the-dark hexahedrons and plugging glowing pegs into a large-scale Lite-Brite board. A special appearance was made by five actors from the Salt Lake Acting Company, who performed an abridged version of Click, Click, Moo: Cows That Type, a play running through Saturday at the company's playhouse.
Parked just outside the Family Festival room was a 26-foot-long 1963 Airstream Overlander travel-trailer dubbed The Creative Capsule and run by Allison Harberston and Lisa Dickman. They were taking a break from renting their trailer for kids' birthday parties to help pass-holding youngsters make New Years Eve Wish Necklaces. With a little help from the duo, children were filling the necklaces with confetti and wishes for 2013. Dickman said while most kids chose peace as their wish, one imaginative child wished for a daily allotment of balloons, while another simply wished for silence as he lived in a household of boisterous siblings.
Down the street, the Clark Planetarium showed films "Let It Snow" and "Perfect Little Planet" during the day, with night screenings of "Zeppelin" planned for 10 p.m. and "Dark Side of the Moon" at 11 p.m.
The gift shop at the planetarium was hopping, with one of the most interesting bins full of plush toys representing viruses (such as West Nile and AIDS), flesh-eating bacteria, and sperm and egg cells.
Across the street there were arts and crafts stations at Discovery Gateway, also open to pass holders. One energetic child inside the interactive museum's Neighborhood Market amused himself, and few others, by repeatedly pushing the button that activated an announcement that blared, "Clean up on grains aisle, please."
Elsewhere at The Family Festival, 8-year-old Kaylee Pettigrew and her 9-year-old brother Colby Pettigrew clutched balloon animals of an octopus and a spider, respectively. Kaylee, whose left check sported a painting of a unicorn, said if she was able to eat lots of candy, she might, for the first time in her life, be able to stay up until midnight the following day to watch fireworks at The Gallivan Center.
But even she had doubts.
"I'm a sleeper," Kaylee admitted.
Facebook.com/sltribmusic All about EVE
When • Today, 10 a.m. (when Discovery Gateway and The Leonardo open) to midnight (when fireworks explode in sky over Gallivan Center)
Where • Broadway Centre Cinemas, Clark Planetarium, Discovery Gateway, The Gateway, The Gallivan Center, Off Broadway Theatre, Temple Square, The Leonardo and Utah Museum of Contemporary Art
Tickets • General admission pass, $15. Allows access to all venues. VIP pass is $50. VIP pass includes top-level balcony viewing for Gallivan Center music acts and fireworks, ice skating and "Da Vinci the Genius" exhibit at The Leonardo. Tickets available at all attractions. One child under 10 free with paying adult.
More • A new Family Festival at The Gateway will be from 3 to 7 p.m.
Info • eveslc.com
Music at Gallivan
Monday, 7 p.m. • Night Sweats
Monday, 8:30 p.m. • No Nation Orchestra
Monday, 10 p.m. • !!! (Chk Chk Chk)
Highlights of Temple Square Tabernacle
Monday, 9:05 p.m. • Octappella
Monday, 9:55 p.m. • Katherine Nelson
Monday, 10:30 p.m. • Nashville Tribute Band