Distribution of free tickets to the one-of-a-kind New Year's Eve party, "Gala 2000: Family Fest" began Tuesday, December 7.
The giant New Year's Eve family celebration will take place in the adjoining Gross Memorial Coliseum and Cunningham Hall on the Fort Hays State University campus.
Tickets are necessary because of expectations that attendance could exceed the capacity of about 8,000, but the tickets are free thanks to the generosity of local sponsors: The Hays Daily News, Heartland Building Center, Hays Medical Center, Hays Medical Center Foundation, KAYS Radio, McDonald's, Sunflower Bank and Fort Hays State University.
Dr. Edward H. Hammond, FHSU president, was in on the ground floor of planning for Gala 2000, and he quickly volunteered use of the university buildings because they can accommodate the large gathering and because he believed in the concept. "Families usually go their separate ways on New Year's Eve," he said. "Ushering in the year 2000 should be a time they can remember together as a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and Gala 2000 will make that possible."
There will be a limit of four tickets per individual. Each ticket is good for one free admission, and persons will not be readmitted to the festivities if they leave the buildings. Tickets can be picked up at the following locations:
* Dec. 9: Sunflower Bank, Victoria, 9 to 11 a.m.
* Dec. 9: both Hays McDonald's, 2 to 5 p.m.
* Dec. 9: Cerv´s, 6 to 8 p.m.
* Dec. 10: Both Hays McDonald's, 2 to 5 p.m.
* Dec. 10: Cerv's, 6 to 8 p.m.
The doors at Gross and Cunningham will open at 6:30 p.m. on New Year's Eve. Numerous activities will be available. The FHSU Athletic Department will sell refreshments. Also, all kinds of souvenirs will be available, and Pioneer Photography will be present to take commemorative photos with appropriate backdrops.
More than 600 Hays High School and Thomas More Prep-Marian High School students have signed up, saying they plan to attend Gala 2000. Venues for all age groups, including children, are being organized in the spacious gymnasiums in Cunningham Hall. One of the largest venues might be "Decades of Dancing and Memories," featuring the Heartland Band, because it will appeal to the largest age span.
Main stage entertainment in Gross Memorial Coliseum is being organized around several laser shows, the first of which begins at 8 p.m. The last one will begin at11:47 p.m. and continue through the countdown to the new year, ending a few minutes after midnight. Main stage entertainment also will include sets by the Pop Singers, the Blue Healers and the Best of My Boys.
Gala 2000 is being produced by the Ellis County Ministerial Alliance and the Hays Area Chamber of Commerce. The idea for a community New Year's Eve party originated with the steering committee for the annual Ellis County Festival of Faith. Organizers want to create a fun, wholesome celebration for entire families. One venue will be available for prayer and worship, but the overall Gala 2000 is pointedly not designed as a religious service. Everyone is welcome.