Let there be light 

That trademark Hollywood line is the theme of a ceremony Saturday at the Oklahoma River when the world’s first permanently lighted racecourse of its kind will be illuminated.

The river-lighting marks the first large-scale MAPS 3 project to be completed, said Oklahoma City spokeswoman Kristy Yager.

The ceremony, which is open to the public, begins at 8:45 p.m. during the second annual SandRidge Energy Stars and Stripes River Festival.

The MAPS 3 Oklahoma River Improvements Project includes lighting and windscreens for the first 500 meters of the kayak racecourse, a starting system, starting docks, a judging platform, LED lighting, cameras, irrigation, buoy and cable improvements, cable crossover markers, a starting tower and more.

It also includes a whitewater-rafting facility and parking. The entire project has a $57 million price tag, with the lighting cost at about $3.2 million.

“This is the perfect example of a tremendously successful private-public partnership,” said Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett. “It is fitting that our first completion ceremony be at the Oklahoma River, which, in my view, is a great symbol of progress and growth in Oklahoma City.”

The whitewater-rafting project will be open to people at all skill levels. Currently in the design phase, its construction is expected to start next year, with its opening in 2015.

The Stars and Stripes River Festival on Saturday will include a full day of family activities, including the Riversport Challenge 500m kayak race and 5k run, Riversport Corporate Rowing and Dragon Boat League Championships, a regatta for master rowers, the Paddle for the Cure dragon boat race, fireworks and more.

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Tim Farley

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