JOHNS: O-D to celebrate 200 years with free Stanley party

Planning a 200th birthday party is no easy task but the preparation and execution of a full year of events has been a labor of love for our Observer-Dispatch family.

We want to share that love with you, our community family, by inviting everyone to attend the second half of our biggest event of the year — for free!

So while tickets still are required for the first half of our Bicentennial Gala on Saturday at the Stanley Center for the Arts, the doors will open to everyone at 7:30 p.m. for a free concert featuring the band Classified on the Stanley stage.


Starting at 6 p.m., the theater will open for the O-D Bicentennial Gala. Historical exhibits will be on display in different areas of the theater – but that’s just a taste. Layer in a wide variety of food, a silent auction and open bar until 7:30 p.m.

Admission to the Gala is $45. Tickets are on sale at the Stanley Box Office or Ticketmaster. Go to for more information.

Gala visitors will get a first look at a variety of displays looking back on the evolution of the newspaper and the community.



6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 30, at the Stanley Center for the Arts in Utica. Doors open at 6 p.m. Admission is $45 for the Gala including open bar from 6 to 7:30 p.m., food, exhibits and silent auction.


At 7:30 p.m. the doors will open to the public. Admission including exhibits are free. Cash bar will be available. Classified takes the stage at 8 p.m.
> Advertisements have been capturing the attention of readers since the beginning of newspaper publishing. While these were simple and to the point at first, ads have evolved by leaps and bounds through the centuries.

> Of course, what would a 200-year display be without artifacts? We’ve gone through our 100-year-old building to dig up pieces of history that have been collecting dust from the basement to the third floor.

The Gala offers a full night’s entertainment in one place. We hope to see you there.


The band Classified has been a staple party band in our area for 25 years. Make that 25 years to the day.

The band will celebrate its own anniversary Saturday with a free concert for the ages. Will the band have a few surprises for the crowd? You’ll have to ask them but I would bet on it.

The Stanley doors will open to the public at 7:30 p.m. Visitors will get a chance to peruse the displays before the concert and a cash bar will be available for the night.

Worried about what to wear? If you’re comfortable in jeans and a T-shirt, then so be it. We just want you to enjoy the celebration and the show.

Classified will hit the stage at 8 p.m. If you haven’t experienced the band in the Stanley atmosphere, you’re in for a treat.

We think this will be an anniversary party to remember. But in the end, it’s our readers who truly deserve to be celebrated. You’ve stuck by us through thick and thin and it’s because of that dedication that the O-D continues to drop the latest news on your front porch, and on your digital gadget of choice, 365 days a year.

You’ve entrusted us with this important job for more than 200 years. We’ll strive to retain that community trust as we move forward into another century.

Ron Johns is the executive editor for the Observer-Dispatch. You can reach him at

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