Larry Bross wants people to see for themselves the transformation of Crystal Lake.
The executive director of City Care is proud of the makeover that his nonprofit organization has given the little lake just minutes from downtown Oklahoma City on SW 15.
So when the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation canceled its Wildlife Expo at the Lazy E Arena this year, Bross decided it would be a good opportunity to showcase Crystal Lake by holding its own mini-version of the event.
The Family Outdoor Expo will be Saturday at Crystal Lake featuring fishing clinics for kids, archery, fly casting, boat rides, Dutch oven demonstrations, camping seminars, kayaking, bow making, flint knapping and more.
“We just need people to see what's going on (at Crystal Lake) and that it's really a cool place for families to come out with their kids,” Bross said.
Anyone that visited Crystal Lake in the past might find that hard to believe. Before City Care (which provides assistance to the homeless and low-income families in Oklahoma City) took over operation of the lake, it was a dump. Literally. More than 2,200 tires alone and thousands of roof shingles were removed from Crystal Lake during a yearlong cleanup.
The old sand pit near SW 15th and MacArthur also was a place no reputable citizen wanted to be after sundown. But now the lake has a caretaker on site and no one is allowed in after dark. County work crews and other volunteers spent months mowing and removing debris from in and around the lake.
An archery range and tower were built and several tournaments are held there. The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation stocks the lake with channel catfish, and some decent-size bass have been caught at the lake.
The 60-acre lake has become a popular place for bird watching. Eventually, hiking and biking trails will be built around the lake as part of the ongoing MAPS project, Bross said.
Crystal Lake is not the same place anymore.
Saturday's Family Outdoor Expo is free, but a ticket is required for admission. People may obtain a free ticket from Bass Pro Shops in Oklahoma City, all Charleston's metro restaurant locations, Arrowhead Archery Shop in Del City, the OKC Kayak Paddlesport Superstore and the H&H Shooting Sports Complex.
A limited number of tickets also will be available on a first come, first served basis at Crystal Lake on Saturday. City Care is requiring a ticket for admission to keep attendance at a manageable level.
“We couldn't handle 20,000 people out there,” Bross said.
City Care, with the help of numerous others benefactors, has created a little outdoor oasis in the middle of Oklahoma City out of what once was an eyesore. Bross hopes more people will soon discover it, starting Saturday.