HARMONY — Frohes neues Jahr! Or Happy New Year, as most of Butler County residents say it.
Harmony’s annual New Year’s Eve and German heritage celebration, Silvester, will start at 3:30 p.m. Dec. 31 with the countdown into the New Year kicking off around 6 p.m. — or, midnight in Germany.
Susie Altemus, chairman of Harmony’s park board, said the festivities in the historically German borough can attract thousands — even in cold weather conditions like those of last year’s New Year’s Eve celebration.
“People come every year and bring their out-of-town guests,” Altemus said. “It’s really family oriented because people can be home early.”
By celebrating the beginning of the New Year at the same time as people in Germany, which is six hours ahead of Harmony, families can have the fun of ringing in a new year without “blowing past bedtimes.”
Most of the festivities wrap up by 6:30 p.m. or 7 p.m., Altemus said.
Attractions at this event include a tour of Harmony Museum, “Bleigiessen” (which predicts what the new year will bring with melted lead), a Christmas tree toss and a wreath toss for the children, face painting and shopping.
“It brings a chance to really explore what Harmony has to offer with all the shops being open and activities,” Altemus said. “It’s just a very family friendly event. People keep telling us that this is their tradition now.”
Food vendors also will be present, and the museum has a traditional pork and sauerkraut buffet with indoor seating for $12 per person.
Among the bigger attractions at the event, according to Altemus, are the 5K race and one-mile run, which cost $20 and $7 to join, respectively, until Dec. 20 when prices go up to $25 and $10. The 5K runners also get a shirt, and there are awards for the top three in the five age groups. All one-mile runners receive “finishers’ medals.”
The races generate money for the parks and trails in Harmony.
“The race (usually) has about 500 people total,” she said. “The race last year was not as many.”
Altemus said it’s safe to expect another high turnout for the event — especially if the weather is agreeable.