A version of this story appears in Friday’s Weekend Life section of The Oklahoman.
Downtown in December offers abundant holiday fun
Presented by Devon Energy, the monthlong yuletide extravaganza features attractions ranging from ice skating and zip lining to visits with Santa Claus and free Water Taxi rides.
In its 12th year, Downtown in December is offering more chances for rockin’ around the Christmas tree this holiday season, including a new throwback display in one of Oklahoma City’s historic districts.
Presented by Devon Energy, Downtown in December is a monthlong holiday extravaganza with attractions ranging from ice skating and zip lining to visits with Santa Claus and free Water Taxi rides.
While elaborate light displays along the Bricktown Canal and Automobile Alley are established traditions, downtown’s historic Film Row this year will get “A Vintage Christmas” treatment, with 1950s-style holiday décor presented by Dunlap Codding brightening Sheridan Avenue.
“Film Row is an up-and-coming district right now, so they wanted to get in on the Christmas action. We kind of toyed around with a bunch of different ideas,” said Gentry McKeown, communications coordinator for Downtown Oklahoma City Inc. “But it’s definitely going to a vintage vibe down there.”
Along with the new Film Row lights, Downtown in December will include plenty of returning favorites, including the Devon Ice Rink, Chesapeake Snow Tubing and Santa’s Adventures on the Oklahoma River.
“Each year, we try to expand it and make it a little better,” McKeown said. “This year we mostly we have these classic favorite events with new twists.”
The festivities officially kick off with the SandRidge Tree Lighting Festival from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday at the towering tree’s new in front of the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark. Old St. Nick and Mayor Mick Cornett will oversee the free celebration, which will include family-friendly crafts, free cookies and popcorn and live music from Banana Seat.
Santa and shopping
While longtime Downtown in December attractions like the ice rink and snow tubing draw more revelers each year, McKeown said newer events like Continental Resources Free Movie Mondays and Devon’s Saturdays with Santa also have proven popular.
“Last year, Saturdays with Santa was so popular that there was sometimes up to an hour and a half to two hour wait in line to go see Santa,” she said. “This year, they have a new paging policy, so whenever you want to take your kids to see Santa, you check in and they’ll take your cell phone number. Whenever it’s your turn to go stand in just a really short line, they’ll send you a text message. Hopefully that’ll give people a little more time to enjoy the arts and crafts and entertainment.”
Last year’s inaugural Winter Market was an outdoor affair that had to shut down early because of inclement weather. Renamed the Deluxe Winter Market, this year’s two-day shopping spectacular is set for Saturday and Sunday inside the Chevy Bricktown Events Center. Admission is free.
It won’t be the only shopping opportunity during Downtown in December. The Holiday Pop-Up Shops that last year opened in the Myriad Botanical Gardens are popping up this year in MidTown in glowing geodesic domes. nestled amid a Christmas tree lot hosted by Bishop John Carroll School.
The Myriad Gardens still will play host to visually stunning pop-up retailers with its new Winter Shops. Presented by Prodigal, the glass-walled shopping chalets are modeled after the famous outdoor Holiday Shops at Bryant Park in New York City.
Lights and crafts
Along with hosting the Devon Ice Rink and Winter Shops, the Myriad Gardens feature an array of holiday fun, including how-to classes on gingerbread houses, natural ornaments and other seasonal crafts, a brunch with Santa on Dec. 15 and free admission to the Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory from 6 to 9 p.m. Sundays in December.
The gardens this year are illuminated with new holiday lights presented by OG&E and devised by nationally known installation designer Tres Fromme.
“We drew our inspiration from the Devon Tower, whose lights are amazing,” said Myriad Gardens marketing director Christine Eddington. “So instead of millions of wrapped trees … and taking the course that we’ve taking for years, we decided to create installations. They’re magical in kind of an artistic delightful way.”
The new installations include the chiming trees of the Silver Bell Walk, the playful larger-than-life waterfowl of the Penguin Party and the starry Crystal Constellations inside the Crystal Bridge
“We love Downtown in December,” Eddington said. “We just think it’s such a great way to bring people who may not ordinarily come to downtown into the downtown area. It’s festive for people who work downtown, and it’s great for families.”
Downtown in December
When: Through Jan. 1. (Some attractions will be open longer.)
Where: Various locations in downtown Oklahoma City.
Downtown in December 2013 schedule
SandRidge Christmas Tree Lighting Festival: Help kick off the season with Mayor Mick Cornett and Santa Claus from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday as they light the SandRidge Christmas Tree in front of the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark. The lighting ceremony officially begins downtown Oklahoma City’s month-long holiday celebration and includes live music by Banana Seat, family-friendly activities, popcorn, cookies from Nonna’s, free pictures with Santa, face painting and more. There is no charge to attend.
Devon Ice Rink at the Myriad Gardens: Open seven days a week, the Devon Ice Rink hosts daily public skating, private parties and special events through Feb. 2. The ice will heat up from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday nights for Rock ‘n’ Skate with a DJ. Admission is $10 per person and includes skate rental.
Devon’s Saturdays with Santa: Children of all ages are invited to meet Santa from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Devon Rotunda, 333 W Sheridan. Visitors can enjoy a festive theme each week: Gingerbread Village (Saturday), Whoville (Dec. 7), the North Pole (Dec. 14) and Polar Express (Dec. 21). Attendees can bring their cameras to take free photos with Santa and his crew, write letters to the North Pole, create their own crafts and enjoy a variety of holiday entertainment. Guests also will have an opportunity to package care kits for deployed soldiers at the event through Devon’s partnership with The HUGS Project. Admission is free.
Chesapeake Energy Snow Tubing: Sessions run every two hours beginning at noon on Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 15 at the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, 2 S Mickey Mantle Drive. Starting Dec. 19, tubing is open daily, except Christmas. Admission is $10 for a 90-minute session. Tickets can be purchased at the ballpark box office or at www.DowntownInDecember.com.
Free Water Taxi Rides: Water Taxi rides are free from 6 to 9:30 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays through Dec. 31, courtesy of the Downtown Business Improvement District and Downtown Oklahoma City, Inc. Guests can board the boats on Mickey Mantle Drive across from the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, just west of the third-base entrance.
OneMain Financial’s Bricktown Canal Lights: The free light display will brighten Bricktown experience Friday through Jan. 1.
Automobile Alley Lights on Broadway: More than 180,000 colorful LED lights will drape the buildings along eight blocks between NW 4 and NW 10 Street along Broadway Avenue starting Friday through Jan. 1.
Continental Resources Free Movie Mondays: At 7 p.m. every Monday during Downtown in December, Continental Resources will host free screenings of holiday movies at Harkins Theatres in Bricktown. To attend, film fans must register online at www.DowntownInDecember.com prior to screenings. Movies include “A Christmas Story” on Dec. 2 (registration is full); “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” on Dec. 9 (registration is full); “Elf” on Dec. 16 (registration opens at 10 a.m. Monday); “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” on Dec. 23 (registration opens at 10 a.m. Dec. 9); and “White Christmas” on Dec. 30 (registration opens at 10 a.m. Dec. 16).
SandRidge Santa Run: The Dec. 14 event includes a 5K race and a one-mile Fun Run, followed by a free Santa Claus Kid’s Dash, plus warm-up with Rumble the Bison and the Thunder Girls. This year, proceeds will benefit NorthCare. All runners are invited to dress up in their most festive holiday costumes for the races. Registered 5k runners who dress up in holiday costumes may qualify for the costume contest. Online registration is now open at www.DowntownInDecember.com.
Deluxe Winter Market: More than 40 vendor booths featuring local and handmade goods, crafts, home decor, art, food and other specialty items will be open for business from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Nov. 30 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 1 in the Chevy Bricktown Events Center, 429 E California. The Deluxe Winter Market also will feature food trucks, music and children’s activities. Admission is free. A full list of participating artists is available at www.DowntownInDecember.com.
Sonic Segway Santa: Santa will visit downtown events on his Segway personal transport scooter and spread holiday cheer to all as he gives out special giveaways and treats from Sonic, America’s Drive-In. Watch for tweets from @DowntownOKCInc to find out where and when to get extra special prizes from Santa.
A Vintage Christmas: Presented by Dunlap Codding, the new attraction will feature 1950s-style holiday décor along Sheridan Avenue in downtown’s historic Film Row district throughout the holiday season. The monthly Premiere on Film Row event, featuring live music, performances, food trucks, restaurant and retail specials and gallery openings, is set for Dec. 20.
Little Willie’s Triple Dog Dare: The second annual stair-climbing race is open to people of all ages will take place Dec. 7 at Leadership Square, 211 N Robinson Ave. Information: www.littlewilliestripledogdare.com.
Santa’s Adventures on the Oklahoma River: Try the North Pole Climb, SandRidge Santa Zip, Candy Cane Rock Wall and more in the Boathouse District, 725 S Lincoln Blvd. Opening day is from 1 to 9 p.m. Friday. Santa will be at the Chesapeake Finish Line from 4 to 8 p.m. Saturdays. Santa’s Adventures will continue from 1 to 8 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through Jan. Special New Year’s hours are offered from 1 to 8 p.m. Dec. 30 and 31. Passes can be purchased at www.boathousedistrict.org or in person at the Chesapeake Finish Line Tower. Information: 552-4040.
Free Museum Sunday: On Dec. 8, the Gaylord-Pickens Oklahoma Heritage Museum, 1400 Classen Drive, will offer free admission at with special programming, including a mixed-media craft project for kids, giveaways and a visit from Santa, while the Red Earth Museum and Gallery, 6 Santa Fe Plaza, will be open from noon to 5 p.m. with gift store specials and art on display.
The Holiday Pop-Up Shops: More than 25 local, independent shops will pop up in a new location in Midtown at 1000 N Walker over four weekends between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Each shop will be hosted in a glowing geodesic dome nestled amid a Christmas Tree Lot hosted by Bishop John Carroll School. Information: www.okcpopups.com.
Myriad Gardens Holiday Events: Along with daily skating at the Devon Ice Rink, the Gardens’ Holiday Lights, presented by OGE Energy Corp., will glow nightly throughout the season. The Crystal Bridge Conservatory, also illuminated with holiday lights, will be open for free from 6 to 9 p.m. Sundays in December. The Winter Shops at Myriad Gardens, presented by Prodigal, are open for business, and classes on gingerbread houses, natural ornaments and more seasonal crafts will be offered during December. Information: www.myriadgardens.org.