The Grand Opera House will celebrate its 15oth anniversary Wednesday with a recreation of its inaugural ribbon cutting at 4:30 p.m.
The building, with its facade made of cast iron, had been an anchor of Market Street, where it sits at 818 N. Market.
Festivities on Dec. 21, the shortest day of the year, will include a toast, brief remarks and a birthday cake.
A drum corps from the Christina Cultural Arts Center will play.
The Grand styles itself as one of the region’s premier performing arts presenters, offering music, dance, comedy, and family-focused programming, along with the best of touring Broadway.
It’s played host to everyone from Buffalo Bill Cody to President Joe Biden.
Opened in 1871 as a home for the Grand Lodge of the Masons, The Grand has seen thousands of entertainers and performing artists on its stages.
They include Ethel Barrymore, John Philip Sousa, political cartoonist Thomas Nast, and the Jubilee Singers of Fisk University.
Reopened in 1973 after falling into disrepair in 1960s, the current organization has had artists such as Sarah McLachlan, Willie Nelson, The White Stripes, Trey Anastasio, Wanda Sykes, Sinbad, Lewis Black, Ron White, Lisa Lampanelli, Pete Davidson and more grace their stages.
The Delaware Symphony Orchestra, OperaDelaware, First State Ballet Theatre, and The Rock Orchestra are all in residence at The Grand, presenting full productions in each of their disciplines.
Between The Grand, its resident performing companies, and rentals, the building hosts more than 300 events a year bringing more than 120,000 people into downtown Wilmington and through its doors.
And its rooftop also has its own resident performing company. Grand Executive Director Mark Fields keeps bees up there, and annual harvests hundreds of thousands of pounds of honey.
The performing arts center will soon be selling mini bottles of it as souvenirs.
Betsy Price is a Wilmington freelance writer who has 40 years of experience.
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