Meridian Star

June 13, 2013

State Games Spectacular set for Friday

Tony Tsoukalas
The Meridian Star

—     In it's 21 years of existence, The State Games of Mississippi's Opening Ceremony continues to get bigger –– executive director Carolyn Smith is determined to make sure the event is better too, as the celebration will begin Friday night in front of Meridian City Hall.     

    Smith said planning for the opening ceremony began approximately two weeks after the conclusion of last year's games.     

    “We just start thinking about what we want,” Smith said. “We always want to have something different at opening ceremonies every year.”     

    Last year, the event was highlighted by skydivers. This year, the Games will feature a patriotic hot-air balloon which will take to the air prior to the lighting of the the ceremonial cauldron.       

    Local Lauderdale County southern-rock band, The Slackers, will kick off the event at 5:00 p.m. and will continue playing until 7:15 when this year's State Games participants will begin marching in the Parade of Athletes.     

    Smith said the The Slackers should be a hit especially with the youth in attendance, as front man Timmy Segars leads the band which features music for a wide variety of ages.    

    “We never want it to get stale,” Smith said. “We want the kids to continue to come. This is all for the athletes.”     

    Following the Parade of Athletes, brother-sister duo Dallas and Christie Stiker of Hattiesburg will run onto the state for the ceremonial lighting of the torch which features a flame zip-lined from the Doughboy Memorial into the State Games cauldron on stage.     

    The lighting will followed by a professional firework display. In it’s second year since moving from Dumont Plaza, Smith said having the event in front of City Hall will not only provides more space, but also a better viewing atmosphere for the audience.    

    “The event gets better each year,” Smith said.  “With our location in front of City Hall, spectators are guaranteed a great view of the events and the fireworks.”    

    Mark Cheplovitz will serve as the show producer for the event.     

    Cheplovitz is the founder and president of the Manhattan based Wizard of Ahs and has put together programs for multiple high-profile operations including the Super Bowl, Orange Bowl and Monday Night Football pre-game, halftime and post-game performances.     

    Cheplovitz also serves as show producer for the Ohio, Connecticut, Virginia, North Carolina, Montana, and Missouri State Games.