A forecast for temperatures near freezing has led officials to move Friday's ceremony in remembrance of the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building inside to the First United Methodist Church at NW 5 and Robinson.
The 18th Anniversary Remembrance Ceremony was scheduled to be held at the Outdoor Symbolic Memorial. This marks the fourth time the ceremony has been moved inside, said Kari Watkins, executive director of the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum.
Watkins said that, because of the forecast, officials for several days had anticipated moving the ceremony to the church. She said it was better for planning purposes to make the decision Thursday morning to hold it at First United Methodist Church.
“The weather forecast was the reason we did it. It's supposed to be below freezing and windy. We've talked about this all along. We're not reacting to Boston,” Watkins said, referring to a deadly bombing Monday near the Boston Marathon finish line.
“Will the church be more secure? Of course an indoor facility is more secure than outside, but it's not because of security, it's because of the weather forecast,” Watkins said.
Those planning to attend are asked to enter the church through doors off Robinson that face the national memorial. The ceremony is scheduled to start at 8:55 a.m.
As the names are called, the doors will be opened for families and friends to walk across the street and gather at the memorial's Field of Empty Chairs.
Watkins said extra security will be present Friday. Gov. Mary Fallin offered the assistance of some Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers, and national memorial officials accepted. The event always includes security from several jurisdictions.
“We have extra help from the Oklahoma City Police Department,” Watkins said. “We always have plenty of help from the Oklahoma City police and others.”
The remembrance ceremony is a public event, and Watkins said First United Methodist Church “has been so grateful and always so willing to help us and has been a partner in this process since day one. They have bent over backward to accommodate us.”
This is the third time it has been moved inside because of weather, Watkins said. On the 10th anniversary, the remembrance ceremony was held inside because of security with former President Bill Clinton and Vice President Dick Cheney attending.