After some of the coldest winter weather in memory, Oklahoma City on Monday enjoyed a beautiful day with sunny skies at a pleasant 60 degrees and a slight breeze.
Spending the day “working” downtown at its parks and recreational venues was a moral imperative. How can I truly keep my readers informed about the ongoing changes downtown if I don’t experience a day like this for myself (with two sons as assistants)?
At least, I’m hoping this line will work with my editor.
The community that is continuing to build downtown is impressive — and it relies greatly on venues and ongoing events sometimes taken for granted. About a dozen or so people were already shooting hoops at the downtown basketball court at Hudson and Reno often referred to as the “Cage.” It’s a free amenity, created by Downtown Oklahoma City Inc. with use of the property provided by Bob Howard.
I played a game of “H-O-R-S-E” with my older son, and inexplicably, I won. Our next stop, the Devon Ice Rink, is another great addition to downtown started a decade ago by Downtown Oklahoma City Inc. and sponsored by Devon Energy Corp.
A handful of families were enjoying the ice rink on its last day of operation for this winter. Kids happily slid around and fell, their parents enoying laughs at their expense until suffering similar embarrassments of their own. This is why I let my older son do the ice skating, while I watched my younger son pedal his bike on the outskirts of the Myriad Gardens.
The Myriad Gardens itself was filled with families strolling its trails, couples ambling around soaking up the lunch-time sun and kids exploring every inch of the children’s garden.
Noontime downtown is also an opportunity on weekdays to take in a musical, spoken word or artistic performance at a rotating list of venues, thanks to the folks at Art Moves, a program launched a couple years ago with sponsorship from Devon Energy Corp. On this day, Nathan Lee was at Robinson Renaissance showing how he combines pages of words from his favorite books with his paintings, creating a three-dimensional view of classics like “Watership Down.”
In between these stops, I repeatedly encountered folks who are downtown “regulars.” I spotted Sue Hollenbeck, assistant director of sports business development at Oklahoma City Conventions and Visitors Bureau, showing the town to a couple of future event organizers. Casey Cornett, a vocal downtown booster who lives and works downtown, was strolling Park Avenue.
Throughout the day I saw bicyclists enjoying the new bike lanes created as part of Project 180. I saw residents taking work breaks to walk their dogs. And after a quick shout-out on Twitter, I was fortunate enough to hook up for a late lunch with Shawn Wright, a resident of Regency Tower.
I then met the owner of Blu’s Barbeque, Kathy Chyzy. She and her son Ryan opened the restaurant at 612 N Robinson Ave., and have endured and enjoyed the challenges and triumphs faced by many new restauranteurs. My sons were thrilled to learn one of her regular offerings is to wander around the restaurant offering free cookies to her guests.
Everyone likes to read about new skyscrapers, but it’s the people, companies and organizations responsible for the less-dramatic amenities who have made the Oklahoma City renaissance a story that is drawing nationwide interest.