Children rushed to get in line to have their face painted. Some laughed as a magician and his assistant tossed juggling pins within a hair's breadth of willing child audience members.
Movement and noise filled the Byron Gjerde Center at Pasco's Columbia Basin College on Monday night, as families enjoyed First Night, an annual family event to usher in the new year.
Among all this hustle and bustle, with the beginning of 2013 only hours away, Cristy Garcia of Kennewick, her two daughters in tow, pondered an important question.
"I was actually thinking about whether to take (my daughters) to the show downstairs or to get some pizza," she said.
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The here and now, rather than the past and future, were very much on the mind of parents at First Night. While many said the year 2012 was an ultimately good year and they are looking forward to 2013, there was a general sense of gratitude for what they have now.
"It's very much take it a day at a time," said John Skaanland, who moved to the Tri-Cities this year with his wife and children.
Families weren't far behind once volunteers opened the doors for First Night on Monday afternoon. Two bounce houses and inflatable jousting arena quickly attracted children of all ages. When exhausted from that, there were clowns and karate demonstrations and dance acts.
There was plenty of live entertainment, too. The Gothard Sisters performed a Celtic rendition of Scarborough Fair in their first show of the night, and they were followed soon after by featured performer and musical variety performer Vocal Trash.
Over at CBC's new Bechtel National Planetarium, people could see the animated feature Zulu Patrol, or if they waited until later in the evening, a special feature on black holes.
And while the children's activities provided some down time for parents and grandparents, worries about the coming year or disappointment with the past weren't at the front of their thoughts.
Renee Pomerinke of Pasco, who had her grandchildren with her and were enjoying one of the bounce houses, said 2012 was good for her family. Her son's business is doing well and a second set of twin grandchildren is on its way. Overall, it was a busy year.
"We're hoping for a low key year," she said of 2013.
Shelley Belt of Kennewick enjoyed watching her grandson have a bright blue balloon alien made to sit on his head and snapped a few photos with her cell phone. She had only a single wish for 2013.
"Hopefully we all have good health," she said.
Few spoke of the news and events of the year, though Pomerinke said she hoped the government could find a resolution to issues surrounding federal income taxes.
Garcia said she was glad her daughters got to see her brother, who lives in Washington, D.C., and that Tory started first-grade this year.
Skaanland, who was volunteering at First Night with Blue Bridge Church, said he and his wife, Hannah, were enjoying the change that came with their move to the Tri-Cities from Enumclaw on the west side of the Cascades.
"Me and my wife lived on the same seven-mile stretch of road our whole lives," he said.
No one gave predictions, no one suggested what should happen in 2013. No one voiced resolutions or plans to change their lives.
Tory pleaded to go see one of the music acts, all while brandishing a balloon-turned-bumblebee in her mother's face. Garcia told her girls they'd go, closing by saying she's overall optimistic.
"They're growing, they've had birthday parties," she said of her daughters.
-- Ty Beaver: 509-582-1402; email@example.com; Twitter: @_tybeaver