published Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

Chattanooga's Creative Discovery Museum Director Henry Schulson counting down to New Year's Eve

Henry Schulson, Creative Discovery Museum executive director, will play Father Time at the museum’s New Year’s Eve party for children Saturday.
Henry Schulson, Creative Discovery Museum executive director, will play Father Time at the museum’s New Year’s Eve party for children Saturday.
Photo by Dan Henry.
IF YOU GO
  • What: New Year's at Noon.

  • When: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday.

  • Where: Creative Discovery Museum, 321 Chestnut St.

  • Admission: Free with regular paid admission of $10.95 adults and children.

SCHEDULE

  • Noon. -- Countdown to noon, apple cider toast.

  • 12:30-4 p.m. -- Photo souvenirs.

  • 1-1:15 p.m. -- Dance party with music by Saxophobia.

  • 2 p.m. -- Parade and bubble-wrap fireworks.

Ask Henry Schulson how time flies.

A year has already passed since the Creative Discovery Museum's executive director, costumed as Father Time, descended the atrium steps of the museum with a staff in one hand and Baby New Year in the other.

After pint-size revelers counted down the last 10 seconds until noon, he led the children and their parents in an apple cider toast to the new year.

Schulson will reprise this command performance on Saturday when the CDM hosts its New Year's Eve children's party, New Year's at Noon.

"New Year's at Noon has been happening since 1998," said Carrie Fitzsimmons, CDM public relations coordinator. "Henry has acted as Father Time nearly every year we have had the event. The only exception was a year when he was out of town."

"This idea originated because so many children are asleep at midnight or their parents are out on New Year's Eve. We really wanted to do something where families could be together," Schulson said.

"I think that's one of the most important messages, one of the biggest gifts, parents or caregivers can give their children: the gift of their time," said the director.

Schulson gave some insight into what's required to portray the iconic figure in a timely manner.

Q: Who developed Father Time's costume?

A: We looked at different images on websites. The costumes have been created by different people through the years. Lu Lewis (the museum's early education coordinator) decided the old costume needed an update, and she came up with the costume I'll wear this year. It's a white robe with wig, beard and hourglass. In recent years, I've held a staff as well.

Q: How is Baby New Year selected?

A: In past years, we've had different staff members' babies play the role or board members' grandchildren. This year, we didn't have any staff with a baby the right age, so we selected a baby from our Playgym program.

FACTFILE
  • Hometown: New York City.

  • Museum director: Since 1997.

  • Museum highlight of 2011: "This year we opened Buzz Alley, a new bee exhibit. It was a highlight to me because it's a neat exhibit that the staff developed. We built an indoor beehive that kids can climb into, and we have an observation hive outdoors."

  • Museum's best-kept secret: "How many things there are to do."

  • Timely advice: We encourage people to arrive early for New Year's at Noon, about 10:30 or 11 a.m.

Q: What is Father Time's role in Saturday's party?

A: At about 11:30 or 11:40 a.m., all the children will gather in the atrium. The museum director of education talks about the passage of time, New Year's resolutions.

Father Time makes his appearance just before noon at the top of the stairs. As the children count down "10! 9! 8! 7!" he slowly descends the steps with Baby New Year.

At precisely noon, we hit the bottom of the stairs and everybody says "Happy New Year!" We have confetti drop from the ceiling. Saxophobia plays "Auld Lang Syne," and we have an apple cider toast to the new year.

We like to give out a free membership to the youngest person in the crowd. One year's winner was only a couple of days old. We also give a membership to the oldest person in the crowd, usually a grandparent.

After that, Father Time stays around for photos. He leads a parade around the building, and we also do some dancing.

Q: How do the children react to Father Time?

A: I haven't intimidated anybody yet. Occasionally I am mistaken for Santa Claus by the kids.

Q: Anything funny the kids have said or unexpected occurrences you remember?

A: Probably the funniest thing is watching me dance.

One of the things we added over the years was the confetti drop. At the end, after the confetti has fallen, we thought "Why not hand out bags and let the kids pick up confetti to take home as a party souvenir?"

The most fun thing to me has been how this party has grown. The atrium gets very loud, so it almost gives you a Times Square feel.

Q: Why do you enjoy playing the role?

A: One, I think it's just nice to come down with Baby New Year; every baby is a bit different. I like to watch the reactions of the parents and how excited the baby's parents get when we come down.

Also, it's fun to me to see the smiles on the kids' faces and the excitement of everybody as we descend.

One of the things the museum is all about is education, but we're also about smiles.

Contact Susan Pierce at spierce@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6284.

about Susan Pierce...

Susan Palmer Pierce is a reporter and columnist in the Life department. She began her journalism career as a summer employee 1972 for the News Free Press, typing bridal announcements and photo captions. She became a full-time employee in 1980, working her way up to feature writer, then special sections editor, then Lifestyle editor in 1995 until the merge of the NFP and Times in 1999. She was honored with the 2007 Chattanooga Woman of ...

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sunnydelight said...

Our grandchildren love the Creative Museum. We hesitate to take them there because of the adult admission charge . The facility is an educational playground for chilren .Adults , especially seniors shouldn't have to pay to take their childern there any more than they should pay to take them to Partyville in Hixson ( adults free there).

December 28, 2011 at 5:42 a.m.
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