Officials with the Oprah Winfrey show confirmed to Newscenter 11 early Thursday that the talk show host will visit Meridian Friday for the taping of a show segment for Monday.
Oprah will kick off her Best Life Challenge Jan. 14, featuring people from her home state of Mississippi. The challenge is to lose weight, keep it off, and live healthier. Mississippi has the highest rate of obesity in the nation.
WTOK-TV has heard from numerous viewers who say they are ready to take on the challenge. Oprah's personal trainer, Bob Greene, will also be here.
Preparations were made Thursday to accommodate a very large crowd in downtown Meridian around Dumont Plaza where the segment will be taped.
Beginning at 7 a.m. Friday, streets around the park will be closed for safety reasons, due to the crowds expected.
22nd Avenue will be closed from Front Street to 5th Street, and both 4th and 5th Streets will be closed from 22nd to 23rd Avenues.
Several businesses will be affected by the event, including BankPlus. Its drive-thru will be blocked until 3 p.m. Bank officials ask customers to use other branches if possible.
"This is such a good opportunity for Meridian," said Janis Pruitt. "We are really excited Oprah is coming here."
Parks and recreation director Mark Naylor recommends that visitors park in the downtown parking garage until it fills up. Then drivers will have to find spots along the downtown streets.
"We are asking people to come out and support Meridian and the kicking off of this national tour," said Naylor.
Because so many people will be concentrated around Dumont Plaza for the event taping, Naylor says local law enforcement and homeland security officials will be in the area just to make sure everything goes as planned.