New Year's Eve: Four family-friendly parties

You don’t need to watch a ball drop to know that time marches on when you have kids, those little walking calendars whose every new inch or fresh turn of phrase is a reminder that you are getting older. Better, smarter and surprisingly more attractive, of course. But also older. New Year’s Eve is an opportunity to thank them for this, and to make new memories together.

Fort Lauderdale: The Orange Bowl Downtown Countdown will draw thousands of late-night revelers, but from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, the city’s famed dining and drinking zone in the Himmarshee District also will offer bounce houses, face painting, games, contests and a DJ, with an early countdown and ball lighting at 7 p.m. The fun stretches along Southwest Second Street from Southwest Second Avenue to Southwest Fifth Avenue, where the main family events will be set up at Esplanade Park near the Museum of Science and Discovery. Admission is free. Call 954-828-5363, or go to FortLauderdale.gov. Tip: If you simply must spend a few minutes watching the Liberty Bowl (Mississippi State and Rice at 4 p.m.), Himmarshee Public House (201 SW Second St.) is a new spot with plenty of TVs.

Delray Beach: The annual First Night celebration is famous for the inclusive community vibe that will radiate out from Old School Square to more than 20 indoor and outdoor venues around downtown from 4 to midnight. A carousel, ice skating, face painting, an inflatable obstacle course, games and 9 p.m. fireworks highlight early events. Admission is $15 for a First Night Button. Go to VisitDelrayBeach.org. Tip: Dad, be sure to bring the kids to see Marionetas de la Esquina, an acclaimed puppet theater company from Mexico (performing Friday-Sunday at the Arsht Center).  Mom, be sure to bring yourself to see Ghaleb, a Spanish guitarist who organizers say “sings like Andrea Bocelli and looks like Antonio Banderas.”

West Palm Beach: If you have kids born since the last time Dick Clark hosted the night, the Palm Beach Zoo will have Zoo Year's Eve festivities from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., with a Radio Disney dance party, hats and noisemakers, and a noon apple-juice toast on the Fountain Plaza. Mom, you’re driving. Zoo admission is $18.95; $12.95 for ages 3-12; free younger than 3. Go to PalmBeachZoo.org. Tip: The river otter exhibit is irresistible for kids.

Boca Raton: The Rock the Block party at the tony Boca Raton Resort and Club has all kinds of adult fare planned (Sugarhill Gang, Freedom Williams of C&C Music Factory, Michaela Paige of “The Voice”), but also will have a kids’ area on the Mizner Lawn, with giant bounce houses, carnival food and games, and bungee-jumping stations. Admission is $120; $75 for ages 13-17; $50 for ages 5-12. Go to BocaResort.com. Tip: Dad, we are told you are definitely not allowed to stick your head under the Fountain of Schmooze, a river of beer flowing down a wall of ice.

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