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Arts Council Of Oklahoma City Prepares For 'Opening Night'

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Opening Night "Finale Ball"

Communications Director Christina Foss and the rest of the Arts Council of Oklahoma City spent most of the year working toward Oklahoma City’s New Year's Eve festivities.

“We put months into planning Opening Night, because we use 400 volunteers for the event and that planning starts in the Spring of every year,” Foss said.

“We have our performing artist jury in August, so we start booking the entertainment in August for this event,” Foss added. “And we start meeting with city officials in August, or September, to discuss street closures and the safety of the event.” 

Last year, about 75,000 people attended Opening Night - the highest attendance figures since the event’s debut in 1987. Foss said that’s just one of the reasons for this year’s changes to both the schedule and finale location. 

“Opening Night starts early this year,” Foss said. “It starts at 4 p.m. with the Finale 5K that begins over at our new finale site, which is Bicentennial Park.”

“We’re really excited about the move to Bicentennial Park for the 125th anniversary of the city.” Foss said. “We actually have City Hall as a new venue this year, too.”

“We have new site lines for our fireworks because of that move,” Foss said. “It’s just going to look fantastic!”

In all, Foss said this year’s Opening Night encompasses eight venues across downtown, with sixteen stages and over 20 different performers, including the finale stage performance and countdown to the midnight ball drop and fireworks extravaganza by the Oklahoma City-based Salsa Shakers.

Given its sheer size, and the level of responsibility the Arts Council of Oklahoma City assumes during Opening Night, one might wonder if Foss, her colleagues, and volunteers manage to actually find time to celebrate the occasion. 

“We have a great time together at the event. We are here from the crack of dawn until two, or three in the morning finishing up with cleaning and production needs,” Foss said. “But we do take a minute, a break at midnight. We watch the fireworks together and we do a champagne toast together with some of our volunteers… really fast before we start cleaning up the mess.” 

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Jim is a journalism/mass communications graduate from the University of Oklahoma. While still a student, he became the host of what is now The Weekend Blues. He currently serves as KGOU’s Program Director where he supervises all aspects of KGOU’s on-air programming output.
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