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Thunder Alley: OKC has lost something special with the watch parties going away

When the Western Conference Finals swing to Oklahoma City, Thunder Alley will open three hours before tipoff. There will be music. There will be games. There will be concessions. But once the game starts, the party stops.
by Jenni Carlson Published: May 27, 2012

Those types of connections don't happen every day, and when they do, they resonate. They linger. They stick.

I still remember when our high school wrestling team won a state title when I was a kid growing up in small-town Kansas. State titles weren't all that common for us, so when word spread about the wrestlers' return, the whole town went out to welcome them.

That's when the procession started.

I have no idea if it was planned or if it just happened, but before you knew it, our Oldsmobile had joined a line of cars and pickups following the bus.

My mom honked the horn all the way into town. My brother and I laughed the whole way.

The horn on that Olds never worked right again.

I have to believe there are folks who will look back in 20 or 30 years and have the same kind of vivid memories from Thunder Alley. Something they saw. Something they did. Something they felt.

Cities try to create that sense of community all the time. They spend millions on events and venues and ideas that they hope will bond people, but usually, the strongest ties happen in the most unexpected ways. They are organic, and they are powerful.

That's why I'm certain the Thunder didn't want to ax the watch parties.

Ditto for Oklahoma City officials.

Who would want to end something so unique? Who would want to pull the plug on something so grand?

No one wanted this.

And frankly, even if officials would've decided that an alternative was feasible, it wouldn't have been the same. The dynamics would've been different. The vibe would've been changed.

What Oklahoma City had has been lost.

It was amazing and special.

Special while it lasted.