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Opening Night 2008

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Well, 2007 is nearly gone, and while it might seem like we just ushered 2006 out the door, it’s almost that time again.  If you’re in Oklahoma City during the New Year celebration, we’ve got a great event for you to attend: Opening Night, the annual OKC celebration that takes place downtown.

This year will mark the 20th anniversary of Opening Night, and the event has certainly grown from its 1987 debut.  This year’s event is going to be a little different, too.  While you can still get into everything that the traditional Opening Night festivities include, there’s also a separate concert with Oklahoma’s own Grammy-award-winning group, the Flaming Lips!

So what does Opening Night include?  Well, events start off at 7:00 p.m. in Bricktown.  You can wonder through the area listening to free live music, watching dancers, and enjoying performances by some very hilarious clowns.  At 11:30, you’ll want to head over to the main area for the countdown and fireworks.  The pyrotechnics seem to get bigger and bigger every year, and even if you don’t attend the event, you can see the fireworks from just about anywhere in
Oklahoma City.

It’s an affair for the entire family, of course.  For kids, the event offers a special section sponsored by Sonic.  They can get their faces painted, make some arts and crafts, and play games.  To promote the family atmosphere, none of the venders sell alcohol, so if you’re looking for that, you’ll need to find a different event to attend.

Opening Night events do require you to purchase wristband, but the cost of attendance is pretty low.  For adults, it’s $10 at the door or $8 if you purchase one in advance (wristbands can be bought at Penn Square Mall, Midfirst Bank, and Homeland).  Kids under five are free.  For the Flaming Lips concert, tickets are $15 and can be bought from the Ford Center ticket office or online at www.ticketmaster.com.  If you attend the concert, you can visit the Opening Night headquarters in the Cox Convention Center and get your wristband for $5.  For the concert and event, $20 is a pretty good bargain.

I’ve been to Opening Night several times, and I’ve always had a lot of fun.  There are a few things to watch out for, though.  Usually, my friends and I head down to Bricktown before 7:00 to have dinner.  The first year we did this, we couldn’t find any place without a line out the door!  After that, we learned our lesson, and we generally make reservations as early as we possibly can (a week or more if possible—some places won’t take reservations, though).  That’s really the only way you can guarantee you’ll get a meal before the events begin.  Of course, there are food venders set up, so you can always eat at Opening Night (or load up on the tasty desserts offered!).

Parking is another nightmare.  You’ll end up paying, of course, and generally the lots charge a bit more on Opening Night (be ready for $10 or more).  Again, getting there early is the key to a good parking spot.  If possible, park a bit away and walk.  Yes, it will probably be cold, but sometimes, it’s better to brave the weather than deal with the parking situation.  Car pooling, also, is a very good idea.  Don’t try to cheat the parking system, though; police are usually on the lookout for anyone trying to park in hotel or restaurant parking for the entire night.  You don’t want to ring in the new year with a ticket.

You can find many more details on the Arts Council of Oklahoma City website (the official event sponsor) at http://www.artscouncilokc.com.  Opening Night 2008 sounds like it’s going to be incredibly fun, and I’m already planning to attend the Flaming Lips concert and the festivities.  If you’re in OKC that night, you should definitely pick up a wristband and come join the fun!

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