Annual Winter Carnival is expected to attract hundreds of kids to ring in 2017 in Kent County.

Peter Pan, a pirate and bagpiper walk into a library.

This isn’t the start of a joke, but rather something more entertaining: the fifth Winter Carnival, presented by Kent County Public Library.

During the carnival, a couple hundred kids get to ring in the New Year at noon Dec. 31, accompanied by a special ball drop.

The event attracts 350 guests and has sold out each year. The deadline to buy the $5 tickets is Dec. 28.

This year’s carnival bears a warm, aquatic theme with “Under the Sea” and will feature arts and crafts and lots of performances that tie into this concept.

“Delaware is a state bordered by water the entire length of the state, so it seemed to be a natural fit,” library director Hilary Welliver said about the sea theme.

Faith, trust and pixie dust

The Rehoboth Summer Children’s Theatre troupe will return to the library with a performance of “Peter Pan.” RSCT is run by Steve and Elise Seyfried.

“I love working with Steve Seyfried. He’s a total professional,” Welliver said. “Two actors play all the parts [in his shows] and they bring so much enthusiasm. The scripts are original, so there’s something to amuse children and adults.”

Historical interpreter Mary Ann Jung – featured at the National Theatre of Washington and Smithsonian Institution – will introduce children to a famous female pirate.

“She’s going to be Grace O’Malley who was in fact a historical pirate,” Welliver said. “She’ll do a performance about pirates to kick off the event. Then she’ll be Grace O’Malley for the rest of the event and interact with the public and be our emcee.”

Also new to this year’s event will be a performance by steel drummer Mike Cook, playing under the alias Steel Happiness.

Cook, usually dressed in a floral-print shirt and shorts, will play some favorites on his steel drum such as Pharrell Williams’ “Happy,” tunes by Bob Marley, Jimmy Buffet and “Under the Sea” from Disney’s “The Little Mermaid.”

Lots of bands cover some of the songs Cook plays, but many don’t play the tunes with steel drums.

“I’ve always loved the sound of the steel drum because there’s a strong connection with the music and being on vacation,” said Cook of Newark. “When I play, a lot of people give me the thumbs up and smile and say, ‘I feel like I’m on vacation in the Caribbean.’”

Cook looks forward to bringing a summery vibe to the young listeners at the Winter Carnival.

“I’m very excited about it,” he said. “Sometimes the kids will put their arms in the air and shimmy left and right. It’s great to see them singing. And many of them have never seen a steel drum.”

Adding Cook to the Winter Carnival’s lineup was a hand-in-glove fit.

“I’m excited for the children to see a steel drummer. That’s not something you see a lot in Delaware,” Welliver said.

Every hour of the carnival there will be door prizes. There will also be a grand raffle prize worth $640 where a family can win a one-year membership to the Dover YMCA.

The balloon drop

The day will culminate with bagpiper Joey Moran, of the Delaware State Fire School, playing “Auld Lang Syne,” just before the balloon ball drop from the ceiling at noon.

“We find bagpipes are very exciting and appealing to children,” Welliver said.

With the carnival being Kent County Public Library’s most popular event of the year, Welliver expects this fifth one to be the best yet.

“I’m five times more excited than I was about the first,” she said. “It’s really rewarding to know we are fulfilling a need in Delaware. It’s exciting to do something people are looking forward to and work into their holiday.”