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5, 4, 3, 2, 1 - The Grand Plaza Opens!

Council members join the Mayor and the main speakers for the ribbon cutting ceremony.

By Michael Buss, 2013-01-13
A bitterly cold evening in January, offset by an endless supply of free Starbucks coffee, a spirit of celebration and the rousing music of the Orange County Symphony all served to mark the opening of the Grand Plaza at the Anaheim Convention Center.

It may take a while for the residents of Anaheim to appreciate the magnificence of this plaza. But know this, that with its hundreds of palm trees, thousands of lights and over 100,000 square feet of exhibition, concert, or party space, the new Plaza makes OUR convention center the finest on the west coast. Here conventions may spill out into the open California climate, kids will trace the symbolic reconstruction of the Santa Ana river as it provided irrigation to the early colony. In fact, in its concept, the landscaping of the Grand Plaza exactly mirrors the award winning open air sculpture that lies at the heart of the new Colony Park.

Click for a digital view of the Grand Plaza

Executive Director Tom Morton

Opening the ceremony Convention Center, Executive Director Tom Morton outlined the design and progress of the construction of the Grand Plaza – completing in only 8 months what was originally planned for 18. The Grand Plaza will give the Center a campus “feel” and will surely become the location for a wide range of events.

Mayor Tom Tait, bravely resisting the need of an overcoat, radiantly welcomed the enhancement making the Convention Center a jewel in the crown of Anaheim, a huge engine of jobs and revenue for the city.

Mayor Tom Tait

Charles Ahlers, the immediate past president of the Anaheim OC Visitor and Convention Bureau, took his notes from his pockets and never looked at them once. With his delightful, easy going style he brought the proceedings up to the ribbon cutting where Mayor Tait wielded the giant scissors and led the count down to the cut.

The Orange County Symphony

Almost immediately the bravest souls of the whole evening took to the stage – the Orange County Symphony, Anaheim’s Resident Symphony Orchestra. While most of the musicians were bundled up against the cold there could be no doubt that the fingers on the strings, or the valves of the brass, must have almost turned to ice in the next 45 minutes.

Conductor David Rentz

Music Director David Rentz introduced the varying segments of the concert from the initial medley of traditional Americana melodies to the music of the old cartoons, The Magnificent Seven, and Disneyland favorites. Vocalist Ellen Rentz filled the Grand Plaza with unforgettable songs from James Bond movies, and a selection of Judy Garland best loved songs.

Soloist Ellen Rentz

The crowd thinned out as the cold got the better of them. But the orchestra played with all the passion of professionals who simply love music. It was sterling stuff. No surprise therefore at the many congratulations that flowed as the performers finally left the stage.

The OCS probably never played in a more magnificent venue. Imagine what it will be like on a balmy summer evening, with 3,000 people able to hear the music as clearly at one end of the Plaza as at the other.

The imperative is there: if the OCS can fill Birch Street, Brea, for three nights in a row in August, could they not also fill the Grand Plaza? Mr. Morton and Mr. Tait – shall we discuss dates right away? The Grand Plaza must surely be for the people of Orange County as well for our out of town visitors to large conventions.

And one more thing. We now have the perfect venue for the first Annual Anaheim Arts Festival. You didn’t know we had one? Well let’s start planning.

The Grand Plaza could be filled with artists, actors, magicians, jugglers, singers, rock bands, Mariachi music, flamenco and folkloric dancing, the Anaheim Ballet, and of course the Orange County Symphony. The sides of the Plaza would be filled with an enviable variety of refreshments. The diverse cultures within the city would celebrate their distinctive art forms and witness to their unity through art and tradition.

The Grand Plaza will fire the imagination and bring more life and energy to the city of Anaheim than ever we might have imagined.

The City has just one more need: a fabulous evening entertainment destination for our hundreds of thousands of visitors, as well as local art lovers, to visit the finest possible shows in a new Performing Arts Center. Anaheim is a “Can Do” city. It can make this happen, too. See this article.

Julie Tait greets even the youngest with a warm welcome

Photes by mcb



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