SALT LAKE CITY — The Downtown Alliance kicked off its weekend-long EVE party Saturday drawing many first-time visitors seeking entertainment for their families in the final days of 2012.
Greg and Tiffany Woods of West Jordan said EVE's full schedule appealed to their toddlers as well as their older kids, and the family hopes to attend all three days, as well as in years to come.
"I'm sure they'll be adding stuff every year," Tiffany Woods said. "We're going to bring the older children back tomorrow, and today we're going to try to do the children's museum and the things close to The Gateway."
Greg Woods said EVE is a welcome option for Utahns hoping to spend time as a family.
"I think the traditional New Year's is geared toward adults and everyone parties and hangs out," he said. "Having something to do for the kids is more fun and its good they get to be recognized and spend time with their parents."
Four-year-old Vyncent Woods was all smiles after bouncing around on glowing foam obstacles illuminated by a black lights in the "Glo Forms" installation, from the Utah Arts Alliance, Part of The Gateway's Family Festival.
"We climbed on a lot of those, and I was on the thing that rolls," Vyncent explained, while Greg Woods admitted he enjoyed the glowing room just as much as his son. Meanwhile, 2-year-old Velisha Woods toddled around happily showing off her balloon creation, a gangly octopus.
Because a weekend pass costs only $15 and children under 10 get in free, Tiffany Woods said EVE offers a long list of activities at an affordable price, adding that the low cost was one of the first things that got her attention.
Carson Chambers manages the Family Festival at the Gateway, one of EVE's 10 venues. There will be a New Year's countdown for kids at 7 p.m. Monday, complete with music and activities from Radio Disney.
"We wanted to make sure the kids have something fun to do, and then there's also the whole Gallivan Plaza, a more adult side of things," she said.
Orem resident Valerie Connell huddled with her five teenage children Saturday as the group read through the EVE schedule and began planning their weekend. Connell said she had been looking for a way to get her kids together before her 19-year-old son Cameron leaves for basic training in Illinois.
"We thought it would be fun to do something all together," she said.
Madison Connell, 17, said she is especially looking forward to the comedy and improv shows, while Cassidy Connell, 15, was vying for the Clark Planetarium. The Connells said they hope to take in as many events and shows as possible.
EVE activities and concerts put on by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints do not require a pass. Activities began Saturday and will continue Monday.
The FamilySearch Center in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building offered prizes Saturday for visitors completing its Temple Square Historical Scavenger Hunt. The search took visitors to sites including the Base and Meridian marker on Temple Square's southeast corner and Church History Museum.
The FamilySearch Center is also offering free old-style photographs at its Ellis Island scene, sent via digital postcard, and will host an indexing contest and drawing Monday. Prizes in the indexing contest include Temple Square hospitality gift certificates.
Missionaries working in the center Saturday were proud to report they had taken 70 photos for visitors in just over an hour.
Sandra Joseph, a manager at the FamilySearch Center, said the EVE events always draw a crowd, although many come just to seek respite from the cold. There are plenty of coloring and craft activities on hand for young families looking to warm up, she said.
"A lot more people come," she said. "It lets them know that we're here and what's available for them to do."
In the Assembly Hall, visitors came in out of the cold to sing children's songs Saturday night in the annual children's sing-a-long, followed by a Winter Wonderland concert. There will be a show tunes sing-a-long on Monday starting at 5 p.m.
Seven-year-old George Ditto, who was with his family visiting from Spokane, Wash., said he thought he might see the Mormon Tabernacle Choir when his family walked into the Assembly Hall. Instead, they joined a different choir, he said.
"We sang Jingle Bells and Frosty the Snowman," Ditto said. "It was fun."
Kira and Marin McCoy of Denver said once they heard there was a chance to sing, they made it part of their weekend plans. The sisters are visiting Salt Lake City together.
"We like singing," Kira McCoy said. "They're doing a good job of engaging all the kids."
Marin McCoy, 16, said she thought the adults were having just as much fun as the kids.
"The kids are really enjoying it, and so are the adults and parents," she said. "It doesn't matter how old you are."
At Gallivan Plaza, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and Nick Waterhouse kicked off the three-day live music series for a crowd bundled up in coats and hats. Other performances include David Williams, Blind Pilot and No-Nation Orchestra. All shows are included with a regular EVE pass.