OLEAN, NY – The day of “love” took on a different tone this year for youths 12 to 16 attending the Olean Public Library's first-ever Anti-Valentine’s Day Party.
As “Love Stinks” by the J. Geils Band played, eighth-grader Katie Geise ran in to the library party room, amazed by the black decorations everywhere: black hearts hung on the walls with black and red tulle, black drinking cups, and black paper for crafts. Pink was not allowed at this party.
Geise, 14, decked out in black, said, “I think there’s an actual meaning behind Valentine's Day. It’s not just about cards. It’s about who you spend time with mostly.”
More and more youths between the ages of 12 and 16 kept showing up to eat heart-shaped cookies with black frosting, gelatin hearts, Hershey kisses and Doritos.
The attendees sat down with their snacks and began making anti-love crafts from the black paper and black duct tape provided. They made Anti-Valentine’s Day cards, wrote breakup letters and fashioned duct tape roses. They were promised that the funniest breakup letter would win an emoji pillow. Another pillow was auctioned off as a door prize.
Chris Halsey, a seventh grader, said he would much rather be at the Anti-Valentine's Day party than a regular one.
“Usually Valentine's Day parties are with way more people than this, and usually they’re with people you don’t know,” Halsey said, adding if the library does the Anti-Valentine's Day party again next year, he would definitely come.
Librarian Jen Stickles, who is the head of youth and adult programs, admitted she thought the first-time event would attract a smaller crowd and found herself counting the crowd as it approached the maximum room capacity of 35.
“We’ve been getting more and more teens coming to the library so we’ve been trying to offer a lot of programs for them,” Stickles noted. “I thought this would be something fun to do -- having some snacks and hanging out as friends on Valentine’s Day versus being 14 and going out on dates and feeling that kind of pressure.”
Stickles added she was pleased by the turnout and hopes that the party becomes a tradition at the library.