Mini-Flood 14: First Night Grand Center

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photograph by Alison Carrick

First Night Grand Center is a yearly ritual in St. Louis that provides a family-friendly atmosphere for yearend revelers. However, on December 31, 2013, First Night was something more; it marked the beginning of a historic anniversary celebration for the city, 250 years in the making.

Photo Flood Saint Louis has partnered with stl250, the organization responsible for making St. Louis’ 250th B-Day something for the record books, and First Night Grand Center represents the first event that we will be covering as media sponsors of the organization.

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photograph by Jarred Gastreich

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photograph by Jason Gray

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photograph by Shirley Moore

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photograph by Theresa Harter

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photograph by Kara Schoen

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photograph by Theresa Harter

In the early 1900’s, the area now known as Grand Center was founded as the city’s premier theater and movie-house district, and by the 1920’s had earned the moniker “Great White Way” (a reference to the bright marquee lights beaming out from signs mounted to the many ornate facades along Grand Boulevard). Many of today’s most iconic theaters, including the Fox Theatre and St. Louis Theatre (now Powell Hall), were built in the 1920’s. The historic, 4000-seat Missouri Theater (original home to the Rockettes) was also built during this time, but was eventually razed during a significant period of decline for the area and the city. In 1982, the district was officially branded, “Grand Center”, at the outset of a major revitalization campaign. Grand Center, Inc. was founded in 1987 to continue the successful redevelopment of the the district, and today, Grand Center is once again the city’s bright spot for culture and entertainment. In addition to theaters, Grand Center is home to 12 museums, including the newly opened, International Photography Hall of Fame, several music/performance venues, like Powell Hall, home of the magnificent St. Louis Symphony, many restaurants, and even a visual and performing arts academy.

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photograph by Jason Gray

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photograph by Theresa Harter

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photograph by Mandi Gray

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photograph by Jason Gray

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photograph by Amanda Miller

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photograph by Sarah Heyman

Every year since 1991, First Night Grand Center is presented by the First Night national organization, and hosted by Grand Center, Inc. The alcohol-free event features both indoor and outdoor art activities designed to appeal to a broad age range. On the night that Photo Flood Saint Louis attended, offerings included a fireworks finale, music performances by Kim Massie, the Brothers Lazaroff, Mound City Slickers and more, an ice-carving performance, aerial acrobatics performances, art exhibits, a photo booth, several dance troupes, and much more. First Night offers the following mission for its New Year’s Eve event: “to broaden and deepen the public’s appreciation of the arts through an innovative, diverse and high quality program which offers the community a shared cultural experience that is accessible and affordable to all.” Undoubtedly, the organization achieves this well, and the annual event is an important thread in the cultural quilt of Grand Center and St. Louis.

New to First Night Grand Center this year was our partner organization, stl250. For the occasion, Strauss Park was converted into the city’s anniversary celebration headquarters, complete with an interactive display sponsored by the Missouri History Museum, a massive birthday cake sculpture to record resolutions for the city on, a three-dimensional calendar for important 2014 events, and a booth with ballots for the Cakeway to the West competition. In addition, stl250 worked with many of the night’s performers to incorporate the theme of the 250th anniversary of St. Louis’ founding into their activities.

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photograph by Theresa Harter

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photograph by Ann Aurbach

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photograph by Jason Gray

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photograph by Amanda Krebel

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photograph by Kara Schoen

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photograph by Jason Gray

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photograph by Ann Aurbach

MAP:
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Below is a group pic of some of the PFSTL members attending, taken by Fish Eye Fun Photography, who had a fun photo booth set up at the event.
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  1. […] 1. Mini-Flood 14: First Night Grand Center […]

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