The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

1 January 2004

Where it all begins

Folks from 'round here will tell you that it always rains on the State Fair, and that something unpleasant will happen on Opening Night.

There's at least some truth to the former — the State Fair is scheduled in early fall, one of the wetter periods of the year — and maybe there's some to the latter as well, since Opening Night in Oklahoma City is 31 December, about the time Old Man Winter starts catching on to the fact that he's in charge again.

The rain doesn't keep people away from the Fair, though, and the downtown party that is Opening Night goes on even when the temperature is in single digits and the wind is howling from Hudson Bay and there's more ice on the sidewalks than in the drinks.

As a concept, Opening Night dates back to the Eighties, when the city and its culturemeisters observed that downtown tends to run down at sundown, and figured a New Year's Eve bash might draw some people out of the 'burbs for a change. Events were scheduled all over the place — you buy a button, you get admission to almost all of them at no extra charge — and eateries that normally closed when their business clientele went home stayed open late.

Despite spectacularly crappy weather in the early years, Opening Night did well, and when the Bricktown entertainment district began taking shape, Opening Night did even better. Forty thousand folks turned up last night and bought their buttons (six bucks); many more just came to party along the canal or in the streets. Times Square it ain't, but then we don't have to wonder if there's a picture of Dick Clark moldering away in a closet somewhere either.

Me? I came down with a bad case of the green-apple quick-step and retreated quickly. But thank you for asking.

Posted at 10:25 AM to City Scene