Ray Ackerman, often referred to as “Old Man River” in respect to his longtime advocacy for development of the Oklahoma River, will be hon
The statue, the first installation of public art along the river, will be set in Regatta Park by the Chesapeake Boathouse, 725 S Lincoln Blvd. The unveiling at 1:30 p.m. will be open to the public.
Speakers will include longtime civic leader Lee Allan Smith, Oklahoma County Assessor Leonard Sullivan, Mayor Mick Cornett and Ackerman.
Ackerman is founder and chairman emeritus of Ackerman McQueen Advertising Agency, the state's largest and oldest advertising agency. He served in the U.S. Navy for 35 years and retired from the Reserves as a rear admiral.
His promotion of the river dates to the mid-
Ackerman, as chairman of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber in the early 1990s, campaigned to add transformation of seven miles of the waterway into a scenic river as part of the city's original Metropolitan Area Projects. The studies he asked for in the 1980s served as a basis for adding the dams and improvements onto the MAPS ballot.
In the campaign, Ackerman told residents the waterway acted as a barrier between north and south Oklahoma City but with public investment would unify the areas. The ballot passed. With added funding from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the waterway includes three dams with locks for boat navigation and is lined with trails, landscaping and parks.
Ackerman also successfully lobbied the state Legislature to change the waterway's name from the North Canadian River to the Oklahoma River.
“Ray has made an extraordinary mark on Oklahoma City,” said Cornett, who led the effort to honor Ackerman. “He spent his entire adult life tirelessly promoting Oklahoma City and searching for ways to improve the quality of life for residents. Still in its infancy, the Oklahoma River is his lasting legacy.”
Smith, a longtime friend and business partner, is among those hailing Ackerman's work to redevelop the river, now home to a vibrant boathouse district.
“Residents' support of lighting, wind screens, starting docks and the white-water facility through their approval of MAPS 3 is a testament to Ray's vision,” Smith said.
“The river will be a major recreation area for future generations — whether you enjoy rowing, fishing, cycling or simply