Obviously, New Year's Eve is the night with the most parties and events of the year as everyone rings in a new beginning. Whether staying in and celebrating with close friends or going out and partying it up, the options are seemingly endless. Nearly every club in town has something special planned, right down to this year's Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey concert at Cain's Ballroom. If you're looking for something really huge, however, Tulsa has never really had a definitive party and place to kick off the New Year. That is changing, however, as an annual New Year's Eve celebration on Brookside returns with even higher hopes in its second incarnation this year.
Organized by Lisa Hardin of e2 Worldwide, "THE Party" on Brookside was launched in 2009 and saw roughly 10,000 people in attendance despite the weather, which saw temperatures drop to 17 degrees. Even so, the event was a success as the Times Square styled street party brought a little bit of traditional New Year's spirit to Tulsa with street vendors, live music and performers and even a ball drop from the KJRH, Channel 2 tower at 37th and Peoria.
Beginning at 9pm and continuing until 12:30am, the event provides free entertainment and a chance to do things up big to ring in the New Year like Tulsa hadn't seen previously. If you really want to do things up right, VIP tickets can be purchase for $75 and include access to a heated VIP tent, food, drinks, party favors and a traditional midnight toast. The tent is actually clear and has a clear view of the ball drop, so if the weather is cold or you just don't want to venture back outside, you can enjoy it with a great view and perspective, nonetheless.
When discussing the event with Hardin, she explained the reason for starting this new tradition for Tulsa was twofold. "I'd get calls from friends every year asking 'What should we do for New Year's?' and I'd tell them go to Dallas," she shared.
The real reason why she began the event with e2, however, is because it is run as a charity event with this year's proceeds going to the Food Bank of Northeastern Oklahoma. "We were trying to think what night of the year would be best to do a large event and New Year's Eve seemed an obvious choice," she explained. "...especially when I realized this is something that Tulsa has never had and really needed."
After the event drew such a positive response in its first year, a return was only logical and this year promises to be even bigger and better. In 2009, Eric and the Adams played all evening and Channel 2 partnered with the event to provide some commercials and on-air talent for limited coverage of the event, including a split screen of the ball drops in Times Square and Tulsa. This year, the entertainment is expanding; adding Apollo as an opening act and Channel 2 is expanding its coverage to include exclusive, live production and broadcast of the event from 11:30pm to 12:05am.
In discussing how the evening's entertainment was picked, I spoke with Mark Dempsey of Signal Factory, the design firm that was brought in to help with production and creative direction and design. Once again Eric and the Adams will be returning because, as Dempsey explained "The response was so positive last year that it seemed only appropriate to ask them if they'd like to do it again. Eric played for three hours last year in the extreme cold and was a real trooper, though, so this year we wanted to get another act to open and make sure no one had to play more than an hour and a half."
The opening act this year is Apollo, a young group that has been aggressive and on the rise, gaining Dempsey's attention by specifically inquiring about the event and the enthusiastic responses it has gotten at its most recent shows. "I think we've found a good balance this year with another young act of good quality," Dempsey shared, explaining that the goal was to have two acts with a nice spread of original and cover tunes that are appropriate for a family-friendly crowd.
Indeed, Eric and the Adams has been proving its value for over two years, becoming one of the most popular bands in town with an arsenal of covers and originals that could easily fit in on local pop radio. Although Apollo is a young band, they've quickly moved to the front of the class within a group of promising new acts with great songwriting and a knack for pop hooks. The two bands should provide a great evening of music and complement each other nicely as Apollo's more piano driven sound provides a little contrast to Eric and the Adams' guitar oriented approach.
Perhaps more important than the party, however, is the charity aspect of the event. As previously mentioned, this year's proceeds will go to the Food Bank of Northeast Oklahoma, with plans to rotate the beneficiary each year. "Our goal is to keep the money in Tulsa and help small, local charities," Hardin explained. " We did use the Food Bank last year, but it's such a worthy recipient and we knew that we would do so much better this year that we decided to use them again this year, although it will change from year to year."
If you've always wanted to partake of a huge blowout for New Year's Eve, THE Party on Brookside is just the ticket, regardless of whether you just enjoy the free street party or indulge with VIP tickets. Further details on the event and tickets, as well as hotel package information, can be found online at www.newyearsevetulsa.com. New Year's is almost here, so hurry and make your plans -- or if you haven't, just drop in on the biggest party in Tulsa and get a little taste of Times Square in Brookside.
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