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Elected officials this evening joined in congratulating Tom and Evon McLean as the Roanoke Rapids Theatre celebrated its grand opening under the couple’s leadership.

It was also a night to kick-off Veterans Day celebrations across the Roanoke Valley with a special cake-cutting ceremony recognizing the United States Marine Corps anniversary.

The grand opening and ribbon-cutting celebration was held before the Charlie Daniels concert which was predicted to be a sellout with 1,500 tickets sold for the main auditorium and another 220 sold for upstairs, said Jack Glasure of French West Vaughan, the marketing and PR firm the McLeans enlisted to help them promote the venue.

Glasure said the McLeans have lived up to their promise of making the venue a success. “This is a family run business,” he said.

Glasure also praised the city for its work in keeping the theater operational. “No one else could have kept the theater alive for 10 years. The city deserves as much credit as anyone.”

On the investment by the McLeans, Glasure said, “They are making the right moves. It’s a very positive reputation they’ve established.”

The McLeans took ownership of the theater in July.

State Representative Michael Wray told the couple during the ribbon-cutting ceremony, “I know you’re going to fly like an eagle and succeed.”

Halifax County Board of Commissioners Chairman Vernon Bryant told the audience assembled outside, “I am pleased to congratulate the new Roanoke Rapids Theatre owners on its grand opening. On behalf of the county and the over 2,000 citizens who work in the hospitality industry, we are grateful for the investment Beau Petty and Tom and Evon McLean have made in our county and this industry.”

Bryant said visitors to the county spent more than $97 million last year. “With this in mind, we know this theater and entertainment complex can be successful.”

He said the county is also excited about the additions to the venue — a drive-in theater and the new bistro opening. “This facility will offer much for travelers and residents.”

Roanoke Rapids Mayor Emery Doughtie said, “It took a lot to get to this point. The theater has an opportunity to be the anchor it was always meant to be. It took nine hard years to turn this from a liability to an asset.”

Petty told the guests and audience, “It’s been a long three months. We’re pleased to have all of you here. I think tonight is going to be a very special night. We’re trying to be a great partner in this community.”