Help the kids ring in the New Year with a Winter Carnival at the Kent County Public Library

Your invitation might read, “Goodly lords and ladies, lads and lasses, prithee join her Most Royal Majesty, Elizabeth Tudor, as she doth preside over revelry, merriement and a Renaissance romp.” OK, so Kent Countians won’t be receiving an invite couched in language spoken in 16th century England, but they’ll have the chance to hear it -- and perchance an opportunity to speak it -- as part of the entertainment at the 2013 Winter Carnival. With its focus on castles, royalty and magic, this year’s celebration has been dubbed “Once Upon A Time.” The event is the Friends of the Kent County Library’s annual fundraiser that will be held from 9 a.m. to noon, Tuesday, Dec. 31, at the library, at 497 S. Red Haven Lane, near Woodside. The Carnival will feature actress Mary Ann Jung as Queen Elizabeth I, the Juggling Hoffmans and a performance James Barrie’s “Peter Pan,” where all of the parts will be played by just two actors. The three-hour event also includes craft booths, games, activities, roving costumed characters, a visit by firemen and equipment from the Camden-Wyoming Volunteer Fire Company and a balloon drop. The library’s New Year’s Eve décor will include 15 gargoyles, six flying monkeys and a 13-foot-long dragon, who will arrive on the day of the show. And, since the event ends at noon, there will be a countdown as the hour reaches 12 o’clock, allowing the kids to celebrate New Year’s a few hours early, said Library Director Hilary Welliver. With New Year’s being more an adult-themed holiday, and Dover’s First Night celebration having gone by the wayside, there seemed to be little in the way of entertainment that would get area children in on the fun of welcoming in 2014, said Deb Lawhead, president of the Friends. “We want to change that and offer a family-affordable fundraiser that makes the holiday festive for all ages,” she said. The centerpiece of the celebration will be Mary Ann Jung’s portrayal of Good Queen Bess, who will preside over the morning’s activities. A Smithsonian scholar who has portrayed numerous famous women, Jung will bring the Tudor monarch to life with tales of what it was like in 16th-century England. “I’ll talk about their social history, their clothing, their food, all the things kids can relate to,” Jung said. Jung created her portrayal of Elizabeth 34 years ago and has appeared in character on CNN, the Today Show and Good Morning America. She also was director of renaissance language and Shakespearian language at the Maryland Renaissance Fair. Audience participation is a huge part of her presentation, she said. Youngsters will learn the proper way to curtsey and bow and how to do the Galliard, an incredibly athletic French-inspired dance that Elizabeth pursued even into her 60s. Considering the corseted costumes of the day, “it’s completely unlike what you would expect someone like her to do,” Jung said. The children also will get an example of Elizabethan grammar. “They’ll be learning that you’d say ‘aye’ instead of ‘yes,’ and ‘nay’ instead of ‘no,’ ‘wherefore’ instead of ‘why,’” Jung said. “They’ll understand that people then didn’t talk the way we do now. “I’ll really be trying to get some of those old-time words out there.” Jung is “just wonderful,” Welliver said. “I love everything about her, from her thorough knowledge to her authentic costume. Every detail is perfect. “I think the children are in for a real treat.” Michael and Lois Hoffman, aka the Juggling Hoffmans, will dazzle everyone in the audience with their performance of slapstick comedy, music and magic, Welliver said. “They’re just amazing,” she said. “They’re versatile, upbeat and funny.” Both members of the International Jugglers Association, the Hoffmans came together while students at the University of Delaware. Michael had been inspired to start juggling while in high school, and Lois took up the art when they met in 1991. The pair, who have performed at past celebrations in Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia, New York and New Jersey, like to get everyone in the audience involved in their routine. “We’ll be doing a fast-paced, family-oriented comedy juggling show,” Lois said. “There’ll be lots of audience participation and a lot of comedy,” Michael added. “We usually get one of the kids up there as a volunteer and you never know what they’ll say or how we’ll react to it. Each show is unique, for sure.” “Kids can say the darndest things sometimes,” Lois said. “And sometimes Michael does, too!” she added. After their main show, the Hoffmans will mingle with the audience to do a little close-up work, Welliver said. “Kids always want to know how things are done, so this will be a good chance to get up close and personal,” she said. Tickets for the show only are on sale at the Kent County Library through Dec. 30, and will not be available at the door. “This may be our fundraiser, but it’s really a way of providing some fun for the kids in the community,” Welliver said. “I really do think it’s a wonderful way to close out the year. “It’s family fun and for $5 per ticket, it’s a great bargain.”