2011 arrived early Friday afternoon for some of Westport's youngest. As cars chugged and whistled, they were treated to a model train tour-de-force from the renowned Dennis the Train Man at the Westport Public Library -- one of the celebratory array of events heralding the new year as part of the annual Westport First Night.

To a rapt audience -- many of whom were not much taller than the tables where the model trains ran -- the Train Man showcased a comprehensive collection that included new Amtrak models and steam-spouting locomotives.

Three-year-old Jae-Jae Kayne, of Fanwood, N.J., was one of the rail exhibit's most ebullient spectators. Alongside his father, Evan, his mother, Kathy, and cousin, Oliver, who lives in Westport, Jae-Jae smiled and clapped as each express zoomed by.

"You can just see from his face, he adores trains, so we had to bring him here," Evan Kayne said.

With the new year just hours away, Evan Kayne said he was still pondering resolutions for 2011. Kathy Kayne, however, was quick to offer one.

"I'd like to visit our family in Westport more," she said. "I'd like to come back in the summer. It's beautiful then with the beaches."

Outside, while the 40-degree weather was hardly balmy, downtown bustled with families shuttling between events. And on Main Street, in place of cars, horse-drawn carriages ferried passengers around the center.

With his restaurant open for extended hours for the festivities, Oscar's Delicatessen owner Lee Papageorge smiled as hungry '11 revelers streamed in.

"I think we've turned a corner," he said. "2010 was a good year for business, but 2011 will be a great year."

An exuberant scene also unfolded at the Westport Weston Family Y down the street.

In the downstairs gym, scores of youngsters lined up to get their faces painted. After sitting patiently to be adorned with an imperious Batman mask, 2-year-old Spencer Girling succumbed to tears when shown the final product in a mirror. He was comforted by his father, Steve, and sister, Savannah, who assured him that the paint was not a permanent disfigurement.

"We do First Night every year," Steve Girling said. "The kids love it. We'd like to see the fireworks (set to cap off festivities about 9:30 p.m.), but we might just have some pizza at home."

Jenna Herbst is another long-time First Night enthusiast. Herbst, developmentally and physically challenged, was accompanied by her caregiver, Laura Blair.

"She loves all the First Night events," Blair said. "We'll have a good time. She's really looking forward to the fireworks."

As she bundled Herbst up in her winter coat outside the Y, Blair offered a cautious forecast for 2011.

"I think it's going to be challenging, especially with these economic times," she said. "A lot also depends on what Obama does, so I don't know yet."

On a personal note, though, Blair said she was committed to fulfilling one resolution.

"I've started losing weight, and in the next year, I'm going to keep doing that."