The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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January 4, 2013

No kids allowed? Some say Joplin needs a family friendly New Year's event

JOPLIN, Mo. — Linda Teeter hears comments about Joplin having no culture year-round. But there's only one time of year when that is actually correct, she said.

"People say there's nothing cultural to do, and I'm thinking, 'Are they kidding?'" said Teeter, one of the organizers who started the downtown art walk that has become Third Thursday. "Usually, I'm so busy because there's so much going on.

"The only time that is true is on New Year's."

As area residents celebrated New Year's Eve, many braved colder temperatures and precipitation to spend the evening at casinos, nightclubs and taverns across the region -- all places where kids aren't allowed.

Tricia Patton, director of the Downtown Joplin Alliance, said that families didn't have many options for entertainment that night. Aside from the movies or an all-night skating party in Webb City, most families couldn't do much but head home and watch other cities' parties on TV.

"It's amazing to me, even when we're doing something that's family friendly, how many say to me that we need more things like it," Patton said. "There is absolutely a need."

Event reservations

The new year could include efforts to celebrate the end of it in a family friendly fashion -- countdowns with no champagne toasts. Teeter has tossed around the idea of a New Year's Eve festival of some sort.

But right now such an event is nothing more than an idea. While they think it's a good idea, none of Joplin's major event groups have active plans to establish such a festival.

Patton said the alliance hasn't put any plans in place -- it has investigated the possibility of year-round Third Thursdays, but is unsure that artists could work those extra events into their schedules.

And any such event would have to be done in consideration of the many alliance members who already have their own New Year's events, Patton said.

"This is a humongous night for our restaurants and bars," Patton said. "In creating a New Year's Eve party, we would want to make sure that we're not taking anything away from those venues, and that we're only adding to the celebration."

Patrick Tuttle, director of the Joplin Convention and Visitors Bureau, said that such an event would take at least 10 months of planning and investment, from city resources (in the form of police and emergency services) to volunteers. The bureau is already busy planning events for December's Christmas season.

"Because Thanksgiving is so late this year, we have one less week this year than last," Tuttle said. "That should scare us more than anything else."

If such an event got organized, the CVB would help publicize it, Tuttle said, similar to the Joplin Holiday Experience, which is a banner under which many different, separate events are marketed.

Even Teeter is just in the exploratory phase -- she has no plans to start anything immediately, she said.

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