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Oklahoma City crowds fill Midtown, downtown festivals seeking fun on foot

Downtown events draw thousands this past weekend — despite the lack of parking.
by Steve Lackmeyer Modified: April 1, 2014 at 9:00 am •  Published: March 31, 2014

More than 30,000 people sent a message this weekend that the status quo won’t suffice anymore.

H&8th, the monthly outdoor food and entertainment festival in Midtown, started its 2014 season Friday and drew more than 15,000 people. Just two days later, the city’s first Open Streets festival drew an estimated 25,000 people.

In between the two events, hundreds, if not thousands of people, could be found throughout the weekend strolling the Bricktown Canal, visiting the Oklahoma River and enjoying Myriad Gardens.

Oklahoma City craves community. It craves a model that doesn’t involve air conditioned cars and staying indoors.

We want to know each other. We want to care about our neighbors. We want to swap stories. We want to experience the diversity of our city.

Unfortunately, Oklahoma City is designed for and by the Baby Boom generation. We’re still building four-lane streets to every corner of the city, and the inclusion of real bike lanes is a painful, almost forced contrition when it happens.

Uptown’s NW 23 is the city’s latest thriving urban district, yet it is an ugly street for pedestrians. As a result, while it has become a popular destination, I am hard pressed to think of a time when any single restaurant, bar, shop or venue has drawn more than 100 people at any given time.

Residents in nearby Heritage Hills, understandably, have worried about how more bars, restaurants or music venues might increase traffic on their streets. They worry about a parking overflow on the narrow residential passageways.

Yet Sunday, some 25,000 people gathered along NW 23 when parking could not be found anywhere except at the eastern and westernmost gateways to the district at Broadway and Classen.

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by Steve Lackmeyer
Business Reporter
Steve Lackmeyer is a reporter, columnist and author who started his career at The Oklahoman in 1990. Since then, he has won numerous awards for his coverage, which included the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, the city's...
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