ADA — Thanks to the inspiration of a relative “newcomer,” Ada will be celebrating a new tradition this New Year’s Eve. Although still months away, plans are underway to mark Ada First Night, a family-oriented celebration to ring in the “First Night” of the New Year.

Even though December 31 is technically the last night of the year, the positive event embraces the evening as the first night of the new year.

The alcohol-free celebration -- designed to promote the appreciation of the arts -- will take place on East Central University’s campus, and will bring together local talent to perform for the Ada Area. The many venues across ECU’s campus will allow different types of entertainment for all ages.

First Night is an international nonprofit organization that promotes an alcohol free, family-friendly, art-inspired event.

First Night began in Boston, Mass., in 1976 as a way to revitalize that city’s downtown and to celebrate the city’s bicentennial. First Night cities work to provide a meaningful alternative to the traditional New Year’s Eve celebration.

The organization set-up four pillars that provide structural support and assistance to other cities that want to celebrate in a First Night fashion.

The pillars consist of community, celebration, the new year and the arts. All prospective First Night cities must build their event around these four mandates.

“This will be a great way to start a new tradition in Ada and not have this just a one time event but have it every year at New Year’s Eve,” said Overall Chairman of First Night Ada Tommye Rafes.

“It is family focused, and we are hoping to unite the community using a cultural art theme,” she said. “We want to highlight local artists because there is a lot of talent in Pontotoc County.”

First Night Ada is still in the works and no plans are yet set in stone. Local artists and performers hoping to take part can contact Jae L. Stillwell at

First Night Ada will only become a tradition through community support. The non-profit organization will need many volunteers to get the event up and running.

To get involved, contact Janna Kelley at (580) 332-5213 or Belinda Runnells at (580) 421-1467 for volunteer information; Monica Cowart at (580) 272-1540 for button sales; and Stephanie Lawrence at (580) 235-1549 for sponsorships/donor options.

Because the event is non-profit the entry button fees go towards paying for entertainment and equipment. Buttons cost $10 per person and groups of 5 or more get a discounted rate of $8 per person.

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