Grand Theater leader in Wausau gets ready to say goodbye - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Grand Theater leader in Wausau gets ready to say goodbye

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WAUSAU (WAOW) - The Grand Theater in Wausau was packed with guests for its premiere party Tuesday night. But this party was also a goodbye to a man who has spent decades working at the theater.

Executive director Jim O'Connell remembers the first time he stepped into the theater.

"The opportunity to be here in Wausau came together and it's been a match in my perspective made in heaven," said O'Connell.

22 years later, the executive director is getting ready to say goodbye.

"I’m going to miss the experiences that happen here, and I’m going to miss the staff members that have made me look good for the past 22 years," said O'Connell.

O’Connell announced some of the acts coming to the grand next season including comedian Jim Belushi and the musical Sister Act. O’Connell took the stage at the theater's season premier party to also thank the Wausau community for the decades of support.

"I'm not the Grand, the people are,” said O'Connell. “The people who attend, the people who donate, the people that work here."

"Everybody knows Jim,” said Merry Little, the interim executive director. “Everyone, you know, you go to The Mint for lunch and every single person at the table knows him."

Now, O'Connell is ready to teach others what he's learned.

"I’ll be taking the position of assistant professor of communications at the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point," said O'Connell.

People who work with him say this won't be his last act.

"We'll make sure he comes back,” said Little. “There are already a few events where he's said oh I’ll be back for that one."

But this community is celebrating all O'Connell has given them, and getting ready for a final applause.

If you would like to see a calendar of events at The Grand next season, click here.

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