Celebrate sober New Year’s Day at the Sylvan Way library

BREMERTON — It’s time to ring in the new year, and there’s no shortage of opportunities to celebrate with friends, family and the community.

At the Sylvan Way branch of Kitsap Regional Library, people have the opportunity to celebrate at a sober party for the second year in a row.

“We did a sober New Years Eve party (last year), and that was really a lot of fun,” said event organizer Erich Dewald. “We had a great time. It was maybe one of my best New Year’s I’ve ever had.”

It was so much fun, in fact, that the party continued to be held roughly once a month afterward, with various KRL branches hosting a Sober Night Out, free from alcohol or drugs.

Dewald said “all different types of people” of various ages attended those events, some who were recovering from alcohol- or drug-dependency, some who had never had any sort of substance-abuse problems but just wanted to enjoy the environment.

“The idea is just kind of encouraging this alternative,” Dewald said.

The event theme this year is “Bad Fashion Show,” the brainchild of Dewald and his wife Mary Rose. He said they were shopping at St. Vincent de Paul thrift store in Port Orchard when it occurred to them that between the occasional gem of clothing were many downright bizarre pieces.

“We needed a theme for our New Year’s, and I couldn’t think of anything better,” Dewald said. “We decided to highlight the idea of being silly, and have a good time with it.”

Mary Rose Dewald and her sister Laura also came up with the idea for a sober New Years celebration, Dewald said.

“They both worked at Kitsap Mental Health before, and worked with substance-abuse treatment in addition to mental health disorders,” he said. “They’re active in the recovery community. And so it was kind of like, seeing that there’s plenty of meetings out there, Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous … even on New Year’s or other holidays or festive nights, they have the meetings because people who are struggling with substance abuse often don’t want to stop being social just because (they) can’t drink with everyone.”

So Dewald said he decided to approach his branch manager, Leigh Ann Winterowd, with the idea of hosting a sober New Years Eve celebration.

“She was, amazingly, in,” he said.

So last year, as with this year, they reached out to places like the Bremerton Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition and the East Bremerton Friends of the Library to organize this event. It was a hit.

This year, the party, which starts at 9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 31, and ends at 12:30 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 1, will feature things like a bad fashion runway show (with prizes), Cards Against Humanity, shooting hoops on pop-a-shot, Perler bead art and other games. The library will have a selection of (thoroughly washed) second-hand clothes to mix and match (or mismatch) for the runway show Attendees are free to bring their own.

“It’s not about drinking versus not drinking, us versus them,” Dewald said. “We have all kinds of people who come who have never had issues with addiction. They have a good time just because they like that environment. They want an alternative to something else going on.”

Dewald said they plan to continue hosting monthly Sober Night Out events, hopefully on the last Friday of each month, at the various KRL branches.

“We want this to be something that people can kind of get excited about and be a part of going forward,” he said. “As long as we can do it, we’d like to.”

To learn more about the Sober New Year’s Eve party, the Sober Night Out events or to get involved in the events, visit www.krl.org.

Michelle Beahm is a reporter with the Central Kitsap Reporter and Bremerton Patriot. She can be reached at mbeahm@soundpublishing.com.

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