MERRILLVILLE — The final curtain closed at 6:15 p.m. Sunday at Star Plaza Theatre.
Immediately after The Oak Ridge Boys performed a heartfelt rendition of "Amazing Grace," the group stepped back to wait for the curtain to close as a number of Star Plaza Theatre personnel joined them onstage. Audience members then watched with tears in their eyes as the familiar red curtain slowly started to move.
The Oak Ridge Boys were chosen as the final act to grace the Star Plaza Theatre stage since the Grammy-winning group has the distinction of being the act to have played the Merrillville venue the most since its opening in 1979. The theater is closing and will be razed next year to make way for a development.
"This particular show is the 111th show we've done right here," said Oak Ridge Boy Joe Bonsall, who added it was an emotional day for the group's members. Along with Bonsall, Richard Sterban, Duane Allen and William Lee Golden make up The Oak Ridge Boys.
The Oak Ridge Boys' "Celebrate Christmas" show, which started at 4 p.m., lasted a little more than two hours and featured not only Christmas tunes and the group's hits but also quite a few stories of their visits to Star Plaza Theatre and what the 3,400-seat venue has meant to them.
During Sunday's monumental show, The Oak Ridge Boys were presented with a special plaque by theater personnel recognizing the group as being the only artists to perform shows every year at the venue.
Prior to the group receiving the award, Star Plaza Theatre general manager Mark Bishop addressed the audience.
"On behalf of the entire Star Plaza Theatre staff, we want to thank you for coming out tonight. Most importantly, we want to thank you for 38 years of support of this beautiful theater," Bishop said.