From Friday’s Weekend Look section of The Oklahoman.
Opening Night to ring in Oklahoma City’s New Year
The annual New Year’s Eve event will bring together 40 performers in eight venues across downtown Oklahoma City, and the grand finale this year will move to the renovated Myriad Gardens.
As the giant disco ball rises Saturday night at the culmination of Opening Night 2012, it will not only light the way to the New Year but also spotlight one of downtown Oklahoma City’s reinvigorated treasures.
“The big thing that is new is the change in the finale venue. For the past 25 years, we’ve had the finale at Kerr Park, and this year, we have moved it over to the Myriad Gardens,” said Opening Night Director Christina Foss. “The gardens are newly renovated and just look beautiful, and it’s really the perfect gathering space for people.”
As usual, Opening Night 2012 will transform downtown into a huge variety show, bringing together rock bands, roller girls, magicians and more to celebrate New Year’s Eve. Organized by the Arts Council of Oklahoma City, the alcohol-free, family-friendly event will assemble 40 performers in eight different venues, with the festivities starting at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Party-goers can enter every venue with an Opening Night wristband, which are $8 in advance or $10 at the event, while children younger than 5 are admitted free.
The Myriad Botanical Gardens reopened earlier this year after undergoing a $42 million makeover, and coupled with ongoing downtown construction, organizers decided to move this year’s Opening Night finale to the new Grand Lawn.
At 11 p.m. Saturday, Opening Night headliners Smilin’ Vic and the Soul Monkeys will bring their high-energy fusion of rhythm, blues and soul to the finale stage. The year-end countdown will begin in earnest at 11:30 p.m. with a sound and light show involving police cars, fire trucks and a helicopter. To heighten the anticipation and experience, lights will go out across downtown, including those in the Myriad Gardens, buildings and parking garages.
As the final seconds of 2011 tick down, the 10-foot mirrored and light-festooned ball will be lifted at least 15 stories above the crowd. When the clock strikes midnight, an extravagant fireworks show will herald the New Year.
Along with the finale events, Edmond acoustic rocker Jamie Bramble will perform throughout Opening Night at the illuminated Crystal Bridge, which received a facelift as part of the renovation.
“It’s going to be a blast,” Foss said. “We hope that everyone will go through the gardens and see them. … It’s a really good opportunity to see all the new stuff that’s there.”
Old and new
The Oklahoma City Museum of Art will be showcasing both familiar and new exhibits Saturday as it becomes an Opening Night venue for the first time.
The museum is marking the close of the special exhibits “Faded Elegance: Photographs of Havana by Michael Eastman” and “Poodles & Pastries (and Other Important Matters): New Paintings by Franco Mondini-Ruiz,” along with the grand reopening of its vast collection of Dale Chihuly glass art.
Also, the museum will open Saturday night a new temporary exhibit titled “Chihuly: Northwest,” which will feature glass creations inspired by the American Indian basketry, along with selections from the Chihuly’s large collections of Pendleton trade blankets and images by renowned Western photographer Edward S. Curtis.
“It’s an exciting time to be involved with Opening Night for the first time in our 10-year history … in downtown,” said Leslie Spears, the museum’s communications manager. “We’re thrilled to partner with our colleagues at the Arts Council of Oklahoma City and at the beautiful new Myriad Gardens.”
Museum members will preview “Illuminations” from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday, and the redesigned Chihuly exhibit will open to the public from 8 to 11 p.m. Admission will be free to those with Opening Night wristbands.
From 11:30 p.m. to midnight, the museum’s Roof Terrace will host a champagne toast and viewing of the Opening Night fireworks. Tickets are $5 for guests and members, or free to patrons of the Museum Cafe’s annual New Year’s Eve Dinner.
In addition, two favorite jazz bands from the museum’s summer Roof Terrace concert series — Bruce Benson & Studio B and Maurice Johnson — will play in the museum lobby during Opening Night. OKC Improv will have improvisers performing throughout the event in the museum auditorium.
Once Opening Night starts Saturday night, the fun won’t stop until the next year rolls around. Famed musician David Thomas will conjure up his Vegas-style show World of Magic inside Cox Convention Center, the Ambassador’s Concert Choir will blend their voices at Leadership Square, and Tulsa band FM Pilots will rock Bank of Oklahoma.
The children’s area inside the Cox Center will offer art projects, face painting, an inflatable obstacle course and more.
“It’s always a lot of fun for families,” Foss said. “We have performers all across downtown. With musicians and theater and dance, there’s really just a little bit of something for everyone.”
Opening Night 2012
When: 7 p.m. to midnight Saturday.
Where: Eight venues downtown.
Admission: Wristbands are $8 in advance, $10 the day of the event. Children 5 and younger are admitted free. Wristbands are available at 7-Eleven stores, metro-area Homeland stores, MidFirst Bank locations, Science Museum Oklahoma or at the event.
Information: 270-4848 or www.artscouncilokc.com.
See the Opening Night 2012 schedule after the break.
Opening Night 2012 Schedule
Cox Convention Center, 1 Myriad Gardens
Lobby: Steve Crawford, 7 and 9 p.m.; Lola & Sparkle, 7 and 8 p.m.; Total Equilibrium, 8 and 10 p.m.; DelRay, 9 and 10 p.m.
Exhibit Hall 1: David Thomas, 7:30, 9 and 10:15 p.m.
Exhibit Hall 2: OKC Roller Derby, 7 and 8 p.m.; Cori Emmett & No U-Turn Band, 9 and 10 p.m.
Exhibit Hall 3 (Children’s Area): Velocity Dance, 7 and 9 p.m.; OKC Youth Orchestra – Harrison Academy Symphonic Winds, 8 p.m.; Monty Harper, 10 p.m.
Ronald J. Norick Downtown Library, 300 Park Ave.
Lobby: La Internacional Sonora Sabrozona, 7, 8, 9 and 10 p.m.
Fourth-floor auditorium: Briana Gaither, 7 and 8 p.m.; C@mpari, 9 p.m.
Oklahoma City Museum of Art, 415 Couch Drive
Lobby: Bruce Benson & Studio B, 7 and 8 p.m.; Maurice Johnson Band, 9 and 10 p.m.
Auditorium: OKC Improv, 7, 8, 9 and 10 p.m.
Leadership Square, 211 N Robinson
The Ambassadors’ Concert Choir, 7 p.m.; Al Good Orchestra, 8, 9 and 10 p.m.
Bank of Oklahoma, 201 Robert S. Kerr
FM Pilots, 7 and 8 p.m.; David James McKinney Band, 9 and 10 p.m.
Myriad Botanical Gardens, 301 W Reno
Grand Lawn: Smilin’ Vic and the Soul Monkeys, 9, 10 and 11 p.m.; grand finale, 11:30 p.m.
Crystal Bridge: Jamie Bramble, 7, 8, 9 and 10 p.m.
First National Center, 120 N Robinson
The Broke Brothers, 7, 8, 9 and 10 p.m.
Chase Tower, 100 N Broadway
Hankerin’ 4 Hank, 7 and 8 p.m.; Tele Mori, 9 and 10 p.m.