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Small details subtract from best visitors' impression in Oklahoma City

Over all, Oklahoma City is making a good impression on tourists. But a walk through Bricktown and downtown as a whole left an observer with the impression that big efforts have triumphed but there is a failure in attending to small details.
by Steve Lackmeyer Modified: August 5, 2014 at 11:00 am •  Published: August 4, 2014

photo - 
Live Reggae music Saturday kept Captain Norm’s Dockside Bar packed as thousands of people visited downtown’s many attractions.
 Photo by Steve Lackmeyer, The Oklahoman
Live Reggae music Saturday kept Captain Norm’s Dockside Bar packed as thousands of people visited downtown’s many attractions. Photo by Steve Lackmeyer, The Oklahoman

Some nights in Bricktown are magical — and Saturday was one such evening as thousands of people converged in a happy collision of special events that created a great picture of a new Oklahoma City.

Downtown as a whole over the weekend offered a lot of great impressions for visitors — singer Michael Buble made a stop at the Myriad Gardens on Friday and sent an Instagram to 1.9 million followers of himself and his son playing in a fountain. Have no doubt, an image sent out to millions showing downtown as a fun place with water made the folks at the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber deliriously happy.

Buble’s appearance Friday at the Myriad Gardens is even more amazing in that he still had to travel to Tulsa later that day to perform at BOK Center. He chose to spend his free time with his family at the Myriad Gardens. During Buble’s stay he dined at In the Raw along the Bricktown Canal, and bought cupcakes for his family at Pinkitzel in the Santa Fe Train Station.

Buble returned to Oklahoma City to perform at Chesapeake Arena the following night — at the same time the annual Reggae festival was being hosted by Brewer Entertainment in Bricktown. The Oklahoma City RedHawks, meanwhile, were playing a home game at the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.

Restaurants, bars and shops were filled with people seeming to enjoy a pleasant summer evening. I encountered families from the suburbs, I encountered folks from throughout the city, of all races and of all backgrounds. And I met quite a few tourists.

Oklahoma City is a tourist destination. Some visitors from Italy were making their stop in Oklahoma City as part of a cross-country Route 66 tour. Route 66 is a big draw for tourists, and a few years ago a Route 66 traveler from England decided to stay a night at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel. You may have heard of the guy — his name is Paul McCartney and he once played with a band called the Beatles.

A couple from Shreveport, La., visiting friends who live in Oklahoma City, gave good reviews for the Cajun cooking at the Bourbon Street Cafe, one of the oldest restaurants along the Bricktown Canal. Another couple from Wichita, Kan., drove to Oklahoma City just to spend the weekend seeing the sights (they noted the National Memorial was a powerful experience they won’t forget). Other visitors hailed from Chicago and Dallas.

Over all, Oklahoma City is making a good impression on these visitors. But as I walked through Bricktown and surveyed downtown as a whole, I observed a triumph of big efforts and a failure in attending to small details.

The main stretch of Sheridan Avenue between Oklahoma Avenue and Mickey Mantle Drive was very dark as the sun set.

I remember 20 years ago when the gas lanterns still standing along the street gave the sidewalk a beautiful warm glow. But the lights quit working years ago, and they no longer make such a great impression.

Missing bricks in sidewalks and streets, torn out chunks of curbing along Reno Avenue and potholes made me wonder how many people have ended up with a painful sprained ankle at the end of their strolls through Bricktown.

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by Steve Lackmeyer
Business Reporter
Steve Lackmeyer is a reporter and columnist 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 Metropolitan...
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