McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

September 4, 2010

Pride In McAlester, volunteer groups tackle downtown McAlester theater for cleanup


Submitted report

McALESTER — Volunteers from Pride In McAlester, Narconon Arrowhead, Westwood Construction, Hope House and  Interior Resources converged on the OKLA Theater Aug. 28, with the same intent in mind — clean up the OKLA.

“More than 30 people came armed with cleaning supplies, vacuums, brooms, ladders and various tools as the first step in seeing the OKLA Theater Project take shape,” said Gwen Titsworth of PIM. “Old props, paint and debris filled to capacity a 25 yard roll-off box and several utility trailer loads, and approximately 67 yards of debris were hauled away.”         Fundraising for the project has begun, she added.

OKLA fans and concerned citizens can now make a monthly or one time tax deductible donation on PIM’s website, www.prideinmcalester.com.

“Our financial goal is to fully renovate and establish a foundation for the OKLA so that it will never become  neglected again,” said Pride In McAlester President Mark Wilkett. “We want to make sure  generations to come will get to enjoy it as much as those did in the first 70 years of its existence. We cannot do this project without the help of the people. We need financial and community support.”            

The doors to the OKLA will be open at 10 a.m. Sept. 18 for balcony tours during the downtown National Chili Cook Off and Car Show. The theater’s concession stand will be selling popcorn, cotton candy, sno cones, and soft drinks, Wilkett said.  OKLA T-shirts will also be available for purchase, with proceeds going toward the OKLA project.

“Visitors are asked to write down their OKLA memories and leave them at the concession stand,” Titsworth explained.  “These memories might be used to publish an OKLA Memories book to be used as a future fundraiser.”

In addition, Titsworth said, Narconon Arrowhead has teamed with Pride In McAlester to host a fun-filled day downtown Saturday, Oct.  23, to kick off Red Ribbon Drug Awareness Week. Also partnering with PIM in this event are Main Street, the Chamber of  Commerce, Hope House and Westwood Construction. The morning will start with an 8:45 a.m. 10K Run and  Family Relay Race.  Registration will be

8 - 8:30 a.m. in front of the OKLA. The day’s events will also include Narconon Arrowhead  ‘Take McAlester Back’ Kick Off; Children’s Theater Presentation; Best Boston Cream Pie Contest; Halloween Costume Swap; Family Fun Health and Fitness  Activities; bands on the street; and a karaoke contest at the Gold Buckle Restaurant.

“Capping the day’s event will be a benefit concert performed by 2008 Oklahoma State Fiddling Champion  Michael Ginsburg to be held at the McAlester Masonic Scottish Rite Temple at 7 p.m.,” Titsworth continued.

“Ginsburg will be joined  by renowned fiddler Jana Jae and accompanied by guitarist Mayor Kevin Priddle and pianist Kathy Brod.”

All proceeds from the events will go toward the restoration/renovation of the historical OKLA Theater  landmark that was built in 1931.

For more information on the OKLA Theater, go to www.prideinmcalester.

com.