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Scenes from the Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra's final Star Plaza concert

The Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra played its final holiday pops concert earlier this month at the Star Plaza Theatre, which will be demolished next year to make way for a redevelopment project.

Sunday marks the literal final act for the beloved Star Plaza Theatre in Merrillville.

The Oak Ridge Boys Christmas show, an annual holiday staple at the long-time Region venue, will usher in the final curtain call.

The nostalgia surrounding this closing act is understandable. Countless high school graduations, concerts and family friendly shows have graced the stage of a theater that clearly has become ingrained in Region tradition and entertainment.

Dozens of letters we've received about the theater since plans first were floated of a closure are proof positive that many Region residents see the theater as an extension of their homes.

Rather than mourning the closing and planned razing of the structure, our leaders — and all of us — should be weighing in on what will come next for a Region suddenly in need of a new events center.

Communities need places to gather in entertainment and fellowship. This has been a central tenet to all civilizations throughout human history.

What will be the Region's next big gathering place? What will it host? What is the most suitable location?

These all are questions Northwest Indiana should be seeking answers to moving forward.

We know schools can and will use an event center as the staging grounds for graduation ceremonies for hundreds, even thousands, of Region students.

Our Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra, a cultural jewel in a Region that often feels starved for the arts, needs a new main venue as well.

Much needs to be discussed and clarified regarding the particulars.

But it's clear we need something to fill the void. It's time to start driving that point home with both public and private sector leaders and tourism officials.

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Members of The Times Editorial Board are Publisher Christopher T. White, Editor Marc Chase, Deputy Editor Kerry Erickson, Assistant Local News Editor Crista Zivanovic and Regional News Editor Sharon Ross.