“It’s a beautiful day in Bricktown” – voice mail greeting on Jim Brewer’s phone until the day he died.
St. Patrick’s Day in Bricktown is, by my recollection, the oldest tradition in the district dating back a quarter century to when the late Jim Brewer first transitioned the old warehouse district into an urban entertainment destination.
So why was it an Irish theme that got things kicked off? The answer is actually quite simple – the most popular venue at the time was Brewer’s O’Brien’s, which offered karaoke and dueling pianos at a time when such entertainment was just getting hot with Generation Xers of that era. To fully understand this cultural moment, kids, go watch “St. Elmo’s Fire” on Netflix.
Now, that said, the St. Patrick’s Day parade and festivities were getting a bit worn out the past few years. Brewer passed away a few years ago, and the oldest of the Generation Xers (ugh) like me are now nearing eligibility for AARP. It was time for a reboot.
A reboot is exactly what happened on Saturday and thousands ignored the threat of rain and enjoyed what was a good fresh start (but one that can and likely will improve over future years).
Before we get into the heart of this post, please watch the video above before reading any more of this post.
Elsewhere in America, a controversy arose as a major beer label dropped support of parades in Boston and elsewhere that banned gay organizations from participating in the events.
This wasn’t an issue in Oklahoma City. A local beer manufacturer, Coop, was the sponsor. And without controversy, without any jeers or boos, the Pride float was just another part of the fun on Saturday in Bricktown.
A Tulsa blogger I respect, Michael Bates, has criticized beer companies for their confrontations with parades that have taken alternate approaches to the one taken in Bricktown. He argues that sexuality should not be on display and that it’s not relevant to these events. That’s fair. I can respect his opinion.
But such was not the case with the Bricktown Pride float. These folks simply delivered a fun Irish rendition of the Wizard of Oz in green and all was well. The parade represented different parts of the Oklahoma City community – Hispanic, African American, Native Indian, and yes, our gay population.
I mixed in with the crowd and heard no complaints. I saw no discomfort. There was no outrage.
Maybe, just maybe, folks with different cultures, different histories, different views, different values,and different beliefs, can get along and enjoy being a part of the same growing, thriving community. And to think, it might just be happening right here in Oklahoma City.
Jim Brewer, enjoy a green beer up above.