Party On!


WRITTEN BY Rachel Burchfield

CASAblanca Gala


It was a complaint Erin Smith heard often: “There is never anything to do in Oxford on New Year’s Eve.”

So she decided to change that — and to celebrate with a cause. Smith is the brains behind “CASAblanca: Change a Child’s Story,” a gala event Dec. 31 at the Powerhouse. From 7:30 p.m. until 1 a.m., revelers dressed in their finest cocktail attire can ring in the new year with dinner, casino games, dancing, a drawdown and a champagne toast at midnight, all benefiting Lafayette County CASA, a nonprofit that advocates for abused and neglected children in the courts and other settings. CASA, which stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates, is a national association; Smith is founding executive director of the local program.

“We planned this event in order for people to have something fun to do while at the same time supporting a phenomenal nonprofit that advocates for those children that need the most support,” Smith said. “Instead of spending a bunch of money to go out of town, people can have just as much fun here, and they don’t have to travel, and they save money. It’s sure to be a new tradition in Oxford.”

In addition to the revelry, the evening recognizes individuals who have played an important part in CASA in the last year, recruiting, training and supervising volunteer advocates, whose role is to speak up for the best interests of children who have been removed from their homes because of abuse and neglect and are now in foster care.

“We help provide resources for the child and stay by their side until their case is closed to ensure they’re in a safe and permanent home,” Smith said.

Admission to the event is $75 for a single ticket, $100 for a drawdown ticket, or $175 for both. Tickets can be purchased online at

The drawdown will take place throughout the night with the winner of $5,000 announced at midnight.

“We are going to do things a little different,” Smith said. “You don’t only have a chance at winning $5,000, but we will have other prizes throughout, so if your name is drawn earlier you may have the chance to win another great prize. The first person drawn out will also get to go back in.”

Can’t attend? You can still buy a drawdown ticket for a chance to win $5,000.

“It costs approximately $1,400 for us to provide a volunteer to a child for a year,” Smith said. “That means providing resources for that child: clothes, after-school care and basic need items — the list is endless. … By simply buying a ticket to attend, you are already changing (a child’s) story.”

For more information, email or call 662-832-4747.

New Year's Eve


Dec. 31 this year will usher in a new decade, and with that new decade, a New Year’s Eve tradition is being hatched in Tupelo.

As part of Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton’s vision for recreational events 365 days a year in the city, Tupelo is throwing a New Year’s Eve party downtown, complete with live music, a ball drop and fireworks.

“Why leave town when the party is right here at home?” said Jennie Bradford-Curlee, public relations and international sales director for Tupelo. “What better way to celebrate the dawning of a new decade than with this new tradition of revelry in Tupelo. Tupelo’s New Year’s Eve Party is one more exciting event for citizens and visitors to enjoy.”

The festivities begin long before midnight with ice skating at BancorpSouth Arena at 1 p.m. that afternoon and continuing until 9 p.m. Children’s activities start at 7 p.m , and at 8:15 p.m. the music begins. DJ Keith de Soul Explosion will hit the Broadway Street stage at the intersection of Broadway Street and Main Street, followed by The Band U.S. Simultaneously, on the Fairpark stage located in front of Tupelo City Hall at 71 Troy St., G3 Show Band will open, followed by Black Jacket Symphony, onstage until a little past midnight.

When the clock strikes midnight, 2020 arrives with a ball drop and fireworks. One lucky reveler will start the decade off with a new car, a Toyota Corolla XSE. The car giveaway costs $50 to enter, and it is part of the city’s celebration of Elvis Presley’s 85th birthday on Jan. 8, 2020.

“Tupelo’s New Year’s Eve party is going to have something for everyone,” Bradford-Curlee said. “From multiple genres of music on two stages throughout the night and kids’ events early in the evening, to great food from local restaurants, all in a fun, secure environment. It will be a party you do not want to miss.”

For more information, visit

Oxford, Mississippi | United States

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