Metro-East Living

Looking for somewhere to take your kids on New Year’s Eve?

Metro East Model Railroad Club members Tim Johnson, left, and Bill Birdsell, prepare their 18-by-27-foot, HO Scale railroad for an open house on New Year’s Eve in the old Glen Carbon Firehouse and Village Hall.
Metro East Model Railroad Club members Tim Johnson, left, and Bill Birdsell, prepare their 18-by-27-foot, HO Scale railroad for an open house on New Year’s Eve in the old Glen Carbon Firehouse and Village Hall.

First Night celebrations aren’t being held in St. Louis or the metro-east again this year, so many parents are wondering what to do with their kids on New Year’s Eve.

One daytime possibility is an open house sponsored by Metro East Model Railroad Club. Its members have an 18-by-27-foot HO scale model railroad set up in the old Glen Carbon Firehouse and Village Hall, 180 Summit St.

“A chunk of it is devoted to Old Town Glen Carbon, depicting it back in the days when it was a coal-mining town,” said Vice President Bob Gibson, 71, of Millstadt. “We’ve got some nifty buildings that the members have made themselves.”

The club has 16 members from all over the metro-east who are constantly maintaining and improving their railroad. Bob is a retired Air Force attorney who joined about 10 years ago.

The club allows the public to see trains run every three months and holds extra open houses around the holidays. “Trains and Christmas go together,” Bob said.

Hours for the open house are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 31. Admission is free. For more information, call Bob at 618-476-9228 or Bill at 618-254-6596 or visit

Below are other activities the kids might enjoy on New Year’s Eve:

Winterfest at the Arch

The CityArchRiver Foundation will host a Family Friendly New Year’s Eve celebration as part of its Winterfest at the Arch series under the Gateway Arch. The centerpiece is a 46-by-92-foot synthetic ice-skating rink in Luther Ely Smith Square, where people can skate from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 31 with a great view of downtown St. Louis. The holiday celebration from 5 to 8:30 p.m. will include food trucks, live music, entertainment by Circus Kaput and fireworks at 8 p.m. Skate rentals cost $12 for adults and $7 for children 10 and under. Or, bring your own. For more information, visit or call 314-881-2015.

Magic House party

The Magic House, St. Louis Children’s Museum in Kirkwood, Mo., will host its Noontime New Year’s Eve party from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 31. Children of all ages will make noisemakers and wish wands, dance to rockin’ tunes and pose in a photo booth with 2017-themed props. There is no additional charge with the museum’s regular $10 admission (1 and older). The address is 516 S. Kirkwood Road. For more information, call 314-822-8900 or visit

Butterfly House Winter Jewels

New Year’s Eve is the last day for the Winter Jewels series at Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House in Chesterfield, Mo. A press release encourages people to “visit a fierce dragon and noble nights at the Castle, discover tropical jewel-toned butterflies and fairies in the Fairy Garden and meet new friends in the Gnome Forest.” Hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 31. Admission is $6 for adults, $5 for seniors 65 and older and $4 for children 3-12 (free for 2 and under and Missouri Botanical Garden members). The address is 15193 Olive Blvd. For more information, call 636-530-0076 or visit

History museum countdown

Missouri History Museum in Forest Park will wrap up its Winter Getaway series with a Noon New Year’s Eve party and a countdown to noon instead of midnight to accommodate early bedtimes. Hours are 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Dec. 31. Before the countdown, visitors will make New Year’s hats and noisemakers and boogie down to live music by Mark-O-Polo and Celia. Admission is free. For more information, call 314-746-4599 or visit

Stroll to the confluence

Columbia Bottom Conservation Area is hosting New Year’s Eve Stroll at the Confluence from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Dec. 31 for ages 10 and up. Visitors will ring in the new year and new moon with a quiet walk to the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. A naturalist will talk about animals out and about at this time of year. The site is at 801 Strodtman Road in St. Louis, just northwest of Interstate 270 and the Mississippi. Meet in Parking Lot M, four miles from the main entrance. For reservations, call 314-877-6014 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Dec. 28-30. Dress warm for the weather.

Belleville Way of Lights

The Way of Lights display at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville will be open from 5 to 10 p.m. Dec. 31, telling the story of Jesus’ birth with a million lights. Other activities include a Christmas tree and wreath display, puppet shows, children’s crafts, fire pits with s’mores, a petting zoo, camel, donkey and pony rides and a LEGO exhibit. It’s free to drive through; donations are welcome and fees are charged for some activities. The shrine is at 442 S. De Mazenod Drive. For more information, call 618-397-6700 or visit

Botanical Garden Glow

Missouri Botanical Garden will continue its Garden Glow through Jan. 1, including New Year’s Eve. People can take one-mile, self-guided walking tours on the grounds with a million lights and special installations. There are photo opportunities, food and drinks. Hours are 5 to 10 p.m. daily. Advanced tickets are encouraged. Admission is $18 for ages 13 and older ($14 for members) and $10 for ages 3 to 12 ($6 for members’ children). For more information, call 314-678-7442 or visit

Gardenland Express

Missouri Botanical Garden also will continue its Gardenland Express Holiday Flower and Train Show through Jan. 1, including New Year’s Eve. Visitors can see trains run on a 900-foot, G-scale railroad through a holiday landscape representing many eras. Festive decorations include poinsettias, other plants and flowers. Hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. Admission is $5 for ages 3 and older (free for members and their families), in addition to regular admission, or $2 more with Garden Glow tickets. For more information, call 314-678-7442 or visit

Other St. Louis activities

Other major recreational facilities and museums open on New Year’s Eve include Steinberg Skating Rink in Forest Park, open 10 a.m. to midnight; St. Louis Zoo in Forest Park, open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.; St. Louis Science Center on Oakland Avenue, open from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; St. Louis Art Museum in Forest Park, open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; and City Museum in downtown St. Louis, open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.