To keep the lineup fresh, organizers add a few new entertainers to the roster every year. Bluegrass band Travis Wackerly & Honey Creek Pass, rock fusion group Squirrel & Friends, songbird Allie Lauren and Latin American duo Alegria Real are among this year's newcomers.
Classical pianist Wayne McEvilly also will make his Opening Night debut playing two sets in the Oklahoma City Museum of Art's lobby. When they visit the museum, Opening Night attendees also get free admission to the exhibits, including the “American Moderns” traveling exhibition closing Jan. 6.
“We bring many new people into their venue,” Foss said. “It's a really neat partnership to have with them, and it gives people another kind of avenue to see some more types of art.”
Of course, the countdown to midnight is the highlight of any New Year's Eve festival, and the Opening Night finale has new sponsorship this year from The Oklahoman and NewsOK. For the second straight year, the traditional raising of the giant lighted ball will take place at the Myriad Gardens, where local R&B band Shortt Dogg will get people revved up for the final moments of 2012.
“Shortt Dogg is gonna be amazing,” Dolese said. “They've got that power to really just slowly build the energy and then crescendo at midnight. I think it'll be a wonderful way to ring in the New Year.”
He said an estimated 70,000 people gathered last year at the Myriad Gardens to count down and watch the big fireworks display.
“You've got a Barons game that night, you've got a Thunder game that night, and you've got everybody partying all over the place ... but people literally leave wherever they are and come there,” Dolese said.
By the time the fireworks herald the arrival of 2013, Dolese said he hopes attendees will be thoroughly entertained.
“It's kind of amazing ... you can walk outside where you're seeing Shortt Dogg just tearing it up on the main stage (into the Crystal Bridge) to this tranquil, beautiful environment of trees and tropical plants and Albert Gray-Eagle playing his flutes,” Dolese said with a laugh.
“So really there is something for everybody.”