View Full Version : Bricktown holds its own in staging holiday gala

07-10-2007, 07:40 AM
Bricktown holds its own in staging holiday gala
By Steve Lackmeyer
The Oklahoman

One might have expected the worst for Fourth of July downtown.
After being a marquee event for Downtown Oklahoma City Inc. and its predecessor, Downtown Now, for more than a decade, the folks at Downtown Oklahoma City Inc. quietly dropped out of the festivities two years ago.

That left the celebration oriented in Bricktown, where veteran event promoter and parking lot owner Jim Brewer continued the traditional parade, daytime concessions and evening entertainment. He moved his tents this year to the south shore of the Oklahoma River, leaving the Bricktown Association and its new director, Jim Cowan, with the task of not disappointing visitors.

There would be no more turkey legs and no more lines of tents selling beer. The carnival festival had moved on.

But watching the crowds and talking to merchants, it appears that Bricktown held its own last week. A break in the weeks of bad weather didn't hurt. Plenty of people had cabin fever and were probably desperate to get outside.

The water taxis stayed full, and restaurant operators I spoke with indicated this was one of their best July Fourth holidays in a long time. They didn't mind the loss of the turkey leg vendors.

And Cowan, tasked with rebuilding the Bricktown Association after some recent acrimony over leadership and direction, started some new attractions. A hot dog eating contest, hosted by newcomer Bricktown Coney and Pub, attracted a couple hundred excited spectators, followed by a live band whose audience missed the chairs once provided by Brewer.

Artists displayed and sold their works along the Bricktown Canal a risky venture considering the threat of showers throughout the day.

The biggest relief hit at the end of the evening. With Downtown Oklahoma City Inc. out of the fireworks business, the only show in Bricktown was courtesy of the Oklahoma RedHawks. Would the game go into extra innings with fireworks delayed until midnight? And could thousands of visitors accustomed to seeing the show from the canal realize the fireworks might only be visible from Sheridan Avenue and parts of Lower Bricktown?

As the RedHawks prepared the start of the show on time about 10 p.m. Bricktown organizers feared the worst. Thousands literally thousands of people were gathered along the canal where a previous testing showed the fireworks could not be seen. But then a massive cheer rang out as the fireworks began.

The show was clearly visible to all.

Does this mean that the 20,000 people (that's my estimate, based on parking and game attendance) all left happy and satisfied? Probably not. But the entertainment district, often knocked for dysfunction, got its act together and reassured families they can still gather downtown for fun and excitement.