The ballroom is set.
Tables, uncovered, shine with a shimmery engraved swirling pattern, like the tail of a shooting star. The stage is dark, with the black fabric backdrop down. A buffet table is in the back, draped with black tablecloths, hosting silver and empty chafing dishes.
A 10,000-square-foot white star on the ceiling shines, illuminated with a soft lime green light.
The ballroom is silent, unlike the energized arcade, adventure park and bowling lanes right down the hall.
This is the 1-year-old Galaxy Event Center, part of Wahooz Family Fun Zone, Pinz Bowling Center and Roaring Springs Water Park.
“I think that people are very surprised at what a beautiful and professional atmosphere the Galaxy Event Center provides, because it’s built at Wahooz, which people associate with kids and fun,” says Tiffany Quilici, sales and marketing director. “But it’s like walking into a whole different world with the Galaxy. It is ideal for groups that want to mix some sort of business and fun.
“A company may have an all-day meeting here but they may take a break at lunch and go have a minigolf tournament or … play a game of bowling,” says Quilici.
What happened in the past year?
The entire ballroom is about 12,500 square feet and can seat up to 600 people. Several groups have put the ballroom’s capacity to the test, from bringing in a taxidermied elk to athletic equipment, and plenty say they are more than satisfied.
“We work extremely hard to execute our group events to perfection,” says Quilici. “Right now we have 4.7 out of 5 stars on Google Reviews, so that’s exciting.”
In the past year, the Galaxy Event Center has held:
- High school graduation parties
- The Meridian mayor’s State of the City address
- Weekly church services
- Science camps
- Business conferences
- Company parties
- Holiday parties
- Trade shows
- Wedding receptions
Even a gymnastics tournament has been held in the Galaxy Event Center.
“It took every inch of the Galaxy,” Quilici says with a smile, “but it was a fantastic venue for a gymnastics meet. That was a use we never anticipated.”
A favorite event the Galaxy Event Center hosted was Shine Prom, a dance created for children with social or other limitations who could not attend their school’s prom. Once the music started, describes event coordinator Troy DeRosier, the place was energized.
“Shine (Prom) is my favorite,” says DeRosier, who has previously DJ’ed for the group. “These are kids you play music and you give them a little bit of energy and they are bouncing.”
This year’s theme was Star Wars, so the Galaxy Event Center’s design and decor were a perfect fi t. Stars have been a traditional design element of Wahooz for years, Quilici says, so the event center’s designers, with Studio Interiors, naturally incorporated them into the Galaxy. The name also came naturally. Silvers and blues accent the blacks, greys and whites of the interior.
“It has really fun yet sophisticated interior design that provides sort of a professional atmosphere that you wouldn’t necessarily have to bring in an event designer,” Quilici says. “It’s already just really beautiful.”
On a recent Tuesday, about half of the ballroom was set for an upcoming event. The other half was divided by walls, each sectioning off smaller rooms that can hold smaller groups from 10 to about 50. A total of nine rooms can be set up. Something else: the white walls can serve as white boards.
Other additions of note:
- The 10,000-square-foot ceiling star can glow in various colors; patrons can choose
- Stars that glow on the walls of the North Star, South Star and Aurora rooms
- State-of-the-art audiovisual capabilities
- Remote bars and cocktail servers
- Elevator access to second floor storage space
- Restrooms within the event center’s space
- Water features on mini golf course to provide visual interest
- 50 new employees
- About 500 new groups utilizing the Galaxy and other amenities
- New gourmet menus prepared in the brand-new catering kitchen
The Galaxy Event Center also hired an executive chef, Calvin Watts, who created these menus. In its first year, the Galaxy has featured a variety of buffet options. Now, Watts is helping to expand the food options to include plated meals that will be served to each guest.
A favorite is the “steak and salmon,” which is beef tenderloin and grilled Alaskan salmon served with fingerling potatoes and roasted vegetables, complete with a Gorgonzola sauce.
“I love it,” Watts says about working at the Galaxy. “It’s a beautiful venue. It’s the nicest (venue) and kitchen I’ve been privileged to work in. … All around it’s a very beautiful room to set up and do everything, and the way everything has come together, it’s just really enjoyable to be a part of. I hear a lot of great feedback all over town about how nice this venue is.”
How Galaxy came about
The Galaxy Event Center sits on what was once a grassy area at Wahooz near the minigolf course and waterpark. It is an approximately $6 million expansion on the pre-existing 200-person capacity event center, which, Quilici says, had been the largest event space in Meridian.
After Mayor Tammy de Weerd put out a request for proposals for large event spaces in Meridian, Wahooz and Roaring Springs owners stepped up to meet the request. The Galaxy Event Center is still the largest meeting space in Meridian, Quilici says. It is co-owned locally by Pat Morandi, CEO, and business partner Tom Nicholson.
“It has really exceeded our expectations in terms of the number and size of events that we are hosting,” says Quilici. “The cool thing is we are hosting events that support worthy causes, celebrate special occasions, offer education and certainly opportunities for business networking and team building.
“The Galaxy is really, I feel, serving a function of really just bringing people together.”