When Dewayne Convirs' grandfather unexpectedly passed away in 1996, Convirs was inspired to honor his grandfather's service to his country by creating a World War II scenario paintball event. Little did he know it would grow into the largest paintball game in the world. Enos Armstrong, Convirs' grandfather, stormed the beaches of Normandy in the early days of June 1944. He told his grandson war stories, and as the boy grew up he became fascinated with history and the World War II era. More than 60 years later, 4,000 paintball players from around the world travel to Oklahoma's D-Day Adventure Park in Wyandotte every June to participate in a special re-enactment of the Allies' historic invasion into Axis-occupied France. Only 135 players played in Convirs' first Oklahoma D-Day, but when the second game was launched in 1998 and 335 players showed up, he knew a phenomenon had been born. In scenario paintball, players participate in games that can last from hours to days. Participants choose sides and are thrown into large-scale re-enactments that can involve hundreds of players attempting to complete a single objective. To enhance games, scenario paintball events often incorporate faux helicopter insertions, air strikes and an extensive intelligence network. In most forms of paintball, once a player has been marked with paint they are eliminated from the match, but at Oklahoma D-Day such players simply move to a reinsertion zone and are back in the game within 30 minutes. Sides are awarded points for holding or taking critical objectives at key times rather than for marking players. Paintball fans from around the world have enjoyed honoring WWII war veterans through Oklahoma D-Day for 10 years. Players even participate in night games, and are often accompanied by family members who camp at D-Day Adventure Park. Oklahoma D-Day has evolved into thousands of players participating for a full week in multiple simultaneous paintball scenarios. The entire game has been designed around and is inspired by historical events. Convirs started D-Day Adventure Park with 120 acres of family farm land and has added nearby properties to bring the park to the 740 acres it has today. The terrain consists of everything from open fields to ravines and creek beds. Trees are plentiful, and so is underbrush. The first building in what will be a movie set quality village is being built, said Convirs. Already D-Day Adventure Park has numerous features such as trench works, villages, firebases, headquarters bunkers and gun emplacements. Props include paint and smoke grenades, bazookas, landing craft, tanks, armored personnel carriers, jeeps, and a fleet of army trucks and buses for transporting players from field to field. Oklahoma D-Day is an event of vast magnitude. Vendors need space for their wares. Equipment must be kept in good working order. Air and paint must be supplied to the players during the game and a campground maintained where players can sleep. Games must be designed and unit numbers balanced to ensure a good experience for all. Staying organized with a staff of ever-changing volunteers is often an obstacle, not to mention keeping the players fed. And there is always the unpredictable Oklahoma weather. Planning for the next Oklahoma D-Day begins the day after the last event. Paintball is one of the fastest growing sports in America. Experts estimate more than 10 million people play the game in the United States. It is a sport that draws a wide range of participants, a sport that requires endurance, planning, organization and athleticism. The 11th annual Oklahoma D-Day takes place June 9-15. It is a week full of camping, camaraderie, family fun, making new friends, making memories and remembering history. Kevin Adkisson is database coordinator support for the Oklahoma Tourism & Recreation Department.
State travelFor more information on Oklahoma D-Day and D-Day Adventure Park, go online to www.ddayadventurepark.com. For information on other state attractions and events, call (800) 652-6552 to speak with an Oklahoma travel counselor or go online to TravelOK.com.