Meridian Star

October 3, 2013

Big Read kicks off today at Dumont Plaza

By Ida Brown /
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN — From Staff Reports

    Meridian's participation in a nationwide effort to revitalize the role of literary reading in American culture will kick off today in Dumont Plaza.

    The community-wide Big Read Bonfire Kick Off will begin at 7:30 p.m., following Meridian Main Street Association's Downtown After 5 Alive free public outdoor concert that runs from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

    A major initiative from the National Endowment for the Arts, The Big Read hopes to unite communities through great literature, as well as inspire students to become lifelong learners. Meridian is one of only 77 communities in the nation this year to win a grant to present the Big Read – the MSU Riley Center chose "Fahrenheit 451" by Ray Bradbury as the grant’s focus.

    "'Fahrenheit 451' is in some ways Ray Bradbury’s tribute to the role that books and libraries played in his life," said MSU Meridian Education Director Dr. Charlotte Tabereaux. "After all, he wrote hundreds of works (novels, stories, screenplays, essays, and poems) with only a high school education, an inspiring desire to learn, and a worn out library card."

    The kick off will begin with a formal proclamation by Mayor Percy Bland of "Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury, BIG READ Month." Other highlights of the event include 100 free "Fahrenheit 451" books to the first 100 families, free reading guides and materials and a display of banned books inside Meridian/Lauderdale County Public Library, located at 2517 Seventh St.

    "Instead of burning books, we will roast marshmallows in the bonfire," Tabereaux said.    The MSU Riley Center is planning other activities surrounding the community-wide reading of Ray Bradbury’s "Fahrenheit 451" for the Big Read grant. According to Tabereaux, many partners in the community have joined forces to support the grant.  

    These events include:   

         • Essay contest sponsored by MSU-Meridian campus. Topics about book banning, censorship, intellectual freedom, media-saturated culture, etc., with judging in various age groups (grades 6-8, 9-12 and college). Prizes will be awarded in each category. Rules are available online at and from English teachers and professors.  

    The deadline to submit essays is 5 p.m. on Oct. 28 at the MSU Riley Center Box Office.     

• Big screen showing of the movie "Fahrenheit 451" on Oct. 29 at 5:30 p.m. at the Temple Theater, 2320 Eighth St. Cost: $5 per person; popcorn, hot dogs and other concessions available.

    A panel discussion of local professors comparing and contrasting the film with the book and the play will presented after the movie.

    • Visual Art Contest sponsored by Meridian Museum of Art. Various media arts entries in three age groups: 6-8; 9-12; and college undergraduates. Prizes will be awarded and artwork exhibited in the Grand Ballroom of the MSU Riley Center during play performances on Nov. 10 and 11. Contest rules available or ask school arts coordinator for a copy.

    The deadline to submit entries is 5 p.m. on Oct. 30 at Meridian Museum of Art.

    • Aquila Theatre’s production of "Fahrenheit 451," Nov. 10 at 6 p.m. in the MSU Riley Center’s Grand Opera House of Mississippi. A pre-show presentation featuring Dr. Steven Aggelis of Tallahassee, Fla., author of "Conversations with Ray Bradbury," will begin at 4:30 p.m.

    Presentation is open to the public, particularly Meridian Community College and Mississippi State University, Meridian campus, students.

Nov. 11th, Monday, MSU Riley Center Theater, 10:30 AM

    • Aquila Theatre will present a one-hour student performance of "Fahrenheit 451" for grades 6-12 and college students on Nov. 11 at 10:30 a.m. at MSU Riley Center Theater. The actors will conduct a post-performance discussion with students.

    For reservation information, call Dr. Charlotte Tabereaux at (601) 696-2204 or go to the website

    • During October, Meridian Activity Center will provide meeting space for book clubs reading "Fahrenheit 451." Free copy of the paperback book and all materials for study will be available. Clubs will meet at various times during the month. Call (601) 485-1812 for details.