A show that's been called as close as today's audiences can get to an actual Elvis Presley concert will be the grand finale of an evening of performances Dec. 31 during First Night Ada, a community celebration of the New Year.
Kraig Parker, a nationally known Elvis impersonator, will perform Elvis' classic songs in flashy Elvis costumes, complete with a band and female singers, at 11 p.m. in East Central University's Kerr Activities Center. His high-energy show will end shortly before midnight, followed by a countdown to the New Year and one of Ada's biggest fireworks shows at Norris Stadium.
Parker's show includes the Royal Tribute Band, "the world's premiere Elvis tribute showband,"with musicians and vocalists who have recreated the sounds of Elvis in concert and "he way it was."
Elvis look-alike, sound-alike and "jeopardy" contests also are planned for children ages 6-12, teens 13-19 and adults 20 and older.
First Night is an alcohol-free public festival that marks the passage from the old year to the new through the arts. All First Night celebrations are licensed by First Night International and adhere to a set of standards.
Ada has the only First Night event in Oklahoma. The activities, all on the ECU campus, will begin at 6 p.m. with 40 different performing groups ranging from country music to the big band sound and rock and roll. Many will perform simultaneously at one of seven venues.
Admission buttons that will allow entry to all First Night performances are now on sale at a number of Ada businesses for $10. The price will increase to $15 on Dec. 31. Groups of five or more can purchase buttons for $8 each, and children age 5 and younger will be admitted free.
The buttons, which were designed by ECU senior Corey Fetters, will not cover the cost of food or beverages that will be offered by six vendors around the campus.
The inaugural First Night Ada is being organized by community members and is supported by contributions from individuals and organizations. Sponsors of groups or rooms will have their names displayed at the location, said Tommye Rafes, the originator of Ada’s celebration. Donations can be made by contacting Mary Ruth Barnes, ECU director of advancement activities, at 580-559-5611.
More information about the event is available from Rafes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Well-known area performers at First Night will include the McSwingers, with a revised 1940s and '50s show; the Moonlighters, who will play big band music in the Stanley Wagner Ballroom from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.; and country music entertainers GunShy and Clancy Davis.
At the fireworks show, the Salvation Army will serve hot chocolate and coffee. Several churches will provide buses and vans to transport people to different locations.
"I've been amazed at how the community has pulled together," Rafes said "Almost everyone is performing for free. There is only one performer, other than the finale, that we are paying, and he's not from the area. He's a magician for the kids."
Other kids' activities include a science demonstration by the ECU Science Department, face painting, arts and crafts, sing-alongs and art contests.
Rafes said the Ada Evening News will print a program of all the events in mid-December.
Volunteers are still needed, and those who volunteer at least two hours will receive a free button, she added. Volunteers can be site managers, door greeters, transportation hosts and button representatives, or work with button sales, publicity and sign distribution or site set-ups and take-downs.
"High school leadership classes are being recruited for clean-up duty at the end of the program," Rafes said. "ECU will host a breakfast for the clean-up crew, so the high school students will kind of have their own party."
Rafes became familiar with First Night celebrations in her hometown of Williamsburg, Va., where her father has been a volunteer for 16 years. Rafes said she’s even gone home to help with three of those events.
Buttons can be purchased at the Ada Area Chamber of Commerce, Ada Ford, Ada Nissan, Citizens Bank locations, ECU Credit Union, First United Bank locations, Gem Jewelers, Landmark Bank, Lee's Pharmacy, Service Automall, Vision Bank locations and Zachrey's.
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