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OKC@125: Events list, mayor Q&A's, Sunday special section

by William Crum Published: April 18, 2014
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A special section in this Sunday’s Oklahoman will mark Oklahoma City’s 125th anniversary with a review of the city’s history by business reporter Steve Lackmeyer, “Tales of the Land Run” by historian Bob Blackburn and tons of historical photos, with layout by Todd Pendleton.

To go along with the special section, here’s an events list for Tuesday’s observances, followed by a compilation of thoughts from mayors Mick Cornett, Kirk Humphreys and Ron Norick:

125th anniversary activities

(Learn more at the city’s website).

• All-day open house at City Hall, 200 N. Walker Ave., includes birthday cake, free tours.

• Presentation on Oklahoma City history with Oklahoma Historical Society Director Bob Blackburn and architect Jim Loftis, 2 p.m. in the council chamber.

• Free tours, Civic Center Music Hall, 201 N Walker Ave., 9 and 11 a.m., 1 and 3 p.m.

• Children’s art activities inspired by city history, Festival of the Arts at Myriad Botanical Gardens. $2.

• City history tour by bicycle, 6 p.m. Registration required: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/OKCBirthdayTour.

• Free admission at attractions including Science Museum Oklahoma, Henry Overholser Mansion, Red Earth Museum, The American Banjo Museum, Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum, Oklahoma City Museum of Art, National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, ASA Hall of Fame complex, Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory at Myriad Gardens.

• Tree planting in Classen-Ten-Penn neighborhood, sponsored by Access Midstream.

• Children’s essay and birthday card design contests.

Mick Cornett: “Inspirational”

Mayor Mick Cornett, sworn in earlier this month for his fourth term, says his favorite moment in #OKC history is yet to happen.

Q When you consider Oklahoma City’s 125-year history, what word comes to mind to describe the city and its people?

A Inspirational.

Q Why?

A Oklahoma City was founded by adventurers and entrepreneurs and desperate souls seeking a better life. We’ve continued to have inspirational and visionary civic and business leaders ever since.

Q What does the future hold for Oklahoma City?

A We’re set up to succeed — but, realistically, there is always the potential for issues you can’t control.

Q What is your favorite moment in Oklahoma City history?

A It hasn’t happened yet. It’s when we hang the banner for our first NBA championship.

Kirk Humphreys: “Opportunity”

Former Mayor Kirk Humphreys, who served from 1998 to 2003, sees a “paradigm shift” in Oklahoma City over the past two decades.

Q When you reflect on Oklahoma City’s history, what word comes to mind?

A Opportunity.

Q Why?

A The people who came to Oklahoma City at first were drawn by the opportunity for free land. And I think we’ve had that kind of mindset since.

Q What does the future hold for Oklahoma City?

A I really think it’s very bright. I think the last 15 or 20 years, you’ve seen a paradigm shift in Oklahoma City. Before, we had an inferiority complex, especially when it came to Dallas. I don’t see that mindset anymore. I think there’s a great pride in the city. We believe we can accomplish what we need to accomplish in order to have the quality of life we want for ourselves and for our children and for others who come to the city.

I think we were amazed at how we responded to the bombing [the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building]; at the character and resilience that the people of the city displayed. The product of all of that was there’s been a unity that has marked the city since that time. When you are attacked from the outside, you realize the differences you had were not all that important compared to the things that bring us together.

Q What’s your favorite moment in Oklahoma City history?

A The “finish MAPS right” election in December 1998.

The tax was going to end on Dec. 31, 1998, and we were going to be $30 million short. That fall we called an election to extend the tax for six months, raise $30 million and finish the projects the right way.

The people approved it by 68 percent.

For the first time in our city’s history — many said we shouldn’t do it — we said, “Forward instead of backwards, we’re going to say ‘yes’ instead of ‘no,’ we’re not going to stop halfway.”

Ron Norick: “Resilience”

Ron Norick served three terms as mayor, from 1987 to 1998, preceded by his father, Jim Norick, who was mayor from 1959 to 1963 and from 1967 to 1971. Ron Norick says OKC is a stronger city for the challenges residents have faced together.

Q Looking back over the city’s history, what’s the first word that comes to your mind?

A Resilience.

Q How so?

A I think about the banking oil bust of the ’80s; how we came back. I think about the Dust Bowl. I obviously think about the Murrah Building bombing, how we came back from that a stronger city. We didn’t let that terrible moment take away from our city pride and our pride in ourselves.

Q What’s ahead for Oklahoma City?

A I see nothing but continued growth. We are being recognized; we have the skill sets, the people to attract high-tech jobs, the General Electrics, in the biosciences, in oil and gas. We are going to be able to afford our young people more opportunities.

Q What’s your favorite moment in Oklahoma City history?

A The day my dad swore me in for my first term as mayor.

by William Crum
Reporter
OU and Norman High School graduate, formerly worked as a reporter and editor for the Associated Press, the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, and the Norman Transcript. Married, two children, lives in Norman.
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