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'Chisholm Trail Experience' Getting an Upgrade

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DUNCAN, Okla._If you've stopped by the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan this month, you might have noticed the lights are out at the theater.

'The Chisholm Trail Experience' is in the process of getting an upgrade from traditional theater lamps to state-of-the-art LED lighting. Audio systems are also being enhanced, bringing the entire experience into the modern age.

Your average audience member isn't going to see much difference in the Chisholm Trail Experience. The movie and story itself are pretty popular, so they're not being touched. Most of the changes are on the technical side. And although they may seem minor to the mini-moviegoers, they open a whole new world of possibilities for the heritage center.

Since 2003, nearly 25,000 people a year have sat in the theater and learned about the history of one of southwest Oklahoma's most famous eras.

"When you think about Oklahoma after the Civil War, this was a fascinating place for many, many reasons," said Heritage Center Director Stacy Moore.

Lights, audio and even rain and the smell of bacon have been going strong seven days a week, every twenty minutes.

"This equipment has been on continuously for ten years so it was time for an upgrade," she said.

In just ten years, these lights have gone from state-of-the-art to ancient artifacts. So by switching those antiques with these brand new LED's, the Chisholm Trail heritage center will not only stay looking good, but will save money in the process.

"They weigh a lot less, they consume a lot less energy, in fact they're less expensive to purchase and there's a lot you can do with them," said project manager John Brandt.

Lighting crews from Arizona were brought in to bring the absolute best to the Chisholm Trail and now history buffs will continue to Experience life on the trail for years to come.

"They'll just feel more immersed in the show as it was intended to be," said Brandt.

"We're excited to show this little piece of Oklahoma history to even more people," said Moore.

Testing of the new lights and other equipment will go on for the rest of the week as they try to work out all the final bugs at night after the Center closes. As for the future, directors hope to expand the theater to two or even three different movies, incorporating topics like Native American life into the whole experience.

The Chisholm Trail Experience will reopen to the public next week, just in time for the Trail Dance Film Festival.

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