Shawn Stepp, co-leader of the Saltwater Vineyard, a church based in Ocean Park, lead attendees in a New Year’s toast at The Eve’s Eve on Dec. 30, a family friendly New Year’s Eve party. (Abigail Worthing photo)

OCEAN PARK – When Jenna Stepp and her family moved from Lewiston to Saco two years ago, they decided they wanted to ring in the New Year in a memorable way.

“It had been a big year for our family. We had moved, so we wanted to commemorate the new beginnings with something fun,” Stepp said. “We were disappointed to see that there weren’t really any events that are chem-free, so we decided to plan something ourselves.”
And so The Eve’s Eve was born.
The Eve’s Eve is a family friendly, chem-free party on Dec. 30, allowing both families and those in recovery the opportunity to celebrate New Years Eve in a safe environment while supporting a good cause, as proceeds from the party were donated to Caring Unlimited, a domestic violence program that aids all of York County.
The event was co-sponsored by Saltwater Vineyard, a church in Ocean Park where Stepp and her husband Shawn are co-leaders, and by Saco Main Street, a downtown revitalization organization.
The sophomore occurrence of the event was hosted from 6 to 9 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 30 at Oceanwood in Ocean Park. Tickets were $5 for individuals or $20 per family, and the event had 50 attendees pre-register online to attend.
According to Stepp, the event is held the night before New Years Eve so parents don’t have to sacrifice their night out to celebrate to attend the event with their children.
Activities included dancing, snacks from local Saco eateries, a raffle,and two rooms designated for child-friendly activities, with toys in one and in another, a Beyblade station with stacks of cardboard for kids to create costumes and props.
Landon Mula-Howard, 6 of Saco, wore a robot costume all over the dance floor with his friends, oversized cardboard head bouncing with the music.
“We wanted families to have fun together, and there doesn’t need to be alcohol to have fun together,” said Stepp, whose three children, Marie, age 14, Ellie, age 12, and Wesley, age 8, spent the event alternating between dancing and playing with friends and helping their mom facilitate. “This is a time to be grateful and reflect on the year that has passed, while also looking to the future.”
One activity at the event focused solely on that sentiment. Two boards, one headed with a “Reflection” banner and the other with “Anticipation,” encouraged those in attendance to write on notecards what they were thankful for or proud of from the past year and what they were hoping for or looking forward to in the coming year. By the end of the event, both boards were covered with cards baring resolutions that included, “Be a better big sister,” and “Grateful to be part of this community.”
All proceeds from the event benefited Caring Unlimited, an organization that spans the county aiding those who’ve experienced domestic violence.
“When we moved to the area and starting speaking with people, I was shocked at how many of their stories included aid from Caring Unlimited,” Stepp said. “Donating proceeds to them seemed like the best choice, because they do so much great work for the community.”
Raffle prizes included a gift certificate to Saco Scoop, a Patriots dart board, gift basket from Quiero Cafe in Pepperell Square, and a $50 gift certificate to Traditions Italian Ristorante on Main Street in Saco.
“Events like this make it possible for us to serve the thousands within the community as we do,” said Anna Youngmann, a community educator with Caring Unlimited. “We are so appreciative.”
Parents were also pleased that their family night out was for a good cause.
“Jenna (Stepp) told me about how fun this would be for the kids, and I really support the cause of Caring Unlimited. This has been so fun for all of us,” said Rachel Reiche of Saco, who attended the event with her family, including daughter Renee, who spent a good portion of the party working diligently at the cardboard station.
The evening ended with a cider or milk and cookies family toast at “midnight,” or 9 p.m. in this case. Shawn Stepp lead the toast, wishing everyone a prosperous and fulfilling New Year, and a countdown to “midnight” ended with hugs and the traditional playing of “Auld Lang Syne.”
“It’s important that we support each other and see our neighbors who are struggling. This is really all about the community,” said Stepp. “We are so grateful for Saco Main Street for helping us along, and for everyone else who came out tonight. Hopefully next year we’ll have more, and maybe eventually we’ll have to move to a bigger space.”

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