CRESTVIEW — The north county’s artistic and cultural renaissance continued in 2012.
School visual and performing arts thrived, a new performing arts series celebrated its first year, and a new organization linked the business and cultural communities.
Here are my picks for 2012’s top five stories.
1. Big Red Machine marches in Rose Parade
After 14 months of preparation, the Crestview High School band represented the city, Okaloosa County and Northwest Florida in the Jan. 2 Tournament of Roses Rose Parade.
The adventure began with a September 2010 phone call to CHS band director Jody Dunn, who recalled he didn’t recognize the number on his caller ID and took the call out of curiosity.
“I thought it was a joke,” Dunn said. “I had to call back the next day to make sure it was real.”
Working to raise more than a quarter-million dollars to fund the trip to Pasadena, the Big Red Machine found broad community support from parents, friends, businesses, civic leaders and local artists.
The Okaloosa County Board of Commissioners at its Dec. 6, 2011 meeting designated January 2012 “Crestview Band Month.”
2. Chamber of Commerce establishes Arts & Culture Committee
The Crestview Area Chamber of Commerce placed emphasis on the value of arts and culture in the community as an integral part of the quality of life.
“It really is a question of livability,” committee chairperson Rae Schwartz said. “About a year ago, (Crestview City Councilman) Charles Baugh and I ended up at an all-day workshop with the Florida League of Cities that reminded us that businesses looking for a location or to relocate look at the livability of a community.
“That includes a lot of things, including recreation, shopping and schools, but it also includes cultural things such as the arts.”
The committee also benefits professional visual and performing artists, Schwartz said.
“Another thing people forget: (for) people who are artists and performers, this is their business,” Schwartz said. “This is how they make their living.
“We’re hoping to bring those folks into the chamber community. It will be good professionally and it will be good for us.”
3. Chamber calendar opens to community organizations
The Crestview Area Chamber of Commerce’s Arts and Culture Committee expanded the chamber’s online calendar to be a “true community calendar,” committee chairwoman Rae Schwartz said.
Establishing a one-stop resource where everything happening in the north county region can be found has been one of Schwartz’s longtime goals.
“How many times have you missed an event because you couldn’t find the information in time, or never noticed it at all?” she said. “How often has your group planned an event only to discover that it conflicts with other events on the same day?”
Community organizations may place their events on the calendar free of charge at www.crestviewchamber.org.
4. Crestview High lipdub becomes a YouTube hit
The six-minute, 41-second Crestview High School lip-synch video, or “lipdub,” that captured school spirit and the community’s enthusiasm is still racking up views on YouTube — nearly 200,000 to date.
The all-student production was May graduate Ben White Jr.’s vision.
“It was a month-and-a-half of planning and we only had four or five practices with the singers,” Ben said. “The majority of the people in it were spontaneous.”
Industry experts who viewed the production praised White’s preparation and groundwork.
“It is easy to imagine the large amount of pre-shoot organization and planning required by that project,” three-time Emmy Award winning retired NBC News producer/director Paul Yacich said from his New Orleans home.
“If that were his only talent, he would still be qualified to set up complicated productions. A lot of effort went into that.”
See a link to the video at http://bit.ly/KikBVA.
5. Crestview community theatre returns