From Friday’s Weekend Look section of The Oklahoman.
Downtown will dazzle in December
Downtown in December promises to make the holidays even merrier and brighter this year, with a bounty of new attractions and returning favorites lighting up the annual extravaganza.
The festivities will officially begin at 5:30 p.m. today with the lighting of the SandRidge Christmas Tree, with Mayor Mick Cornett, Rumble the Bison and Santa Claus in attendance. But the 32-foot-tall evergreen has moved this year to Robinson Avenue and Couch Drive, east of Leadership Square.
After the tree is illuminated, the festivities will move inside Leadership Square, where children can get their photos taken with Santa, write letters to St. Nick, make ornaments, get their faces painted and snack on cookies and cocoa. People can park for free inside the Leadership Square garage, which they can enter off Robert S. Kerr.
“Everything tonight will be free at the tree lighting, and it’s a great way to kick off Downtown in December,” said Allison Shumate, Downtown Oklahoma City Inc. marketing and events coordinator.
Downtown in December is continuing to expand into Automobile Alley, the stretch of Broadway between NW 4 and NW 10 that was the city’s original row of auto dealerships. This year, four more historic buildings there will be blanketed with colorful bulbs; more than 130,000 multihued LED lights will drape Auto Alley.
“It was such a popular attraction last year, so it’s nice to be able to expand that,” Shumate said.
In addition, the massive OK Cityscape Lego replica of Oklahoma City has moved into a new home on Automobile Alley after debuting last year at Penn Square Mall. The popular Lego model has doubled in size, growing from one million toy pieces to 2 million. Along with one of the world’s largest Lego displays, OK Cityscape includes an interactive area where people can build their own plastic structures.
“Auto Alley is beautiful to drive down and walk down, and this gives everyone a reason to stop, get out their cars and really enjoy the area,” she said. “It’s a nice draw … and kids especially love it.”
In addition, Downtown in December is partnering with the new American Hockey League team for OG&E Barons Night Dec. 17 at the Cox Convention Center. The first 2,000 fans through the door will receive a free Snuggie-style blanket.
“It’s a good way to stay warm … and enjoy the new professional team we have in town,” she said.
Bricktown also will glow more cheerily during this year’s festival. OG&E and the Bricktown Association are sponsoring holiday lights along the upper part of the Bricktown Canal, while the Stonegate-Hogan Lights will brighten Lower Bricktown and feature a North Pole elf village in Centennial Plaza.
People who take advantage of the free Water Taxi rides through Wimgo Holidays on the Canal can enjoy watching the colorful lights twinkling on the water, she said.
Vividly illuminated floats will cruise the Oklahoma River Dec. 4 as the Devon Energy Holiday River Parade returns for its sixth year. Along with the more than 20 floating floats, free entertainment, music and fireworks will enliven the viewing areas at Regatta Park and Wiley Post Park.
Other returning Downtown in December attractions include the Devon Ice Rink, Chesapeake Snow Tubing at the Brick, OKC Community Foundation Free Museum Sundays and SandRidge Santa Run.
One attraction that will not be back this year: The holiday lights at the Myriad Botanical Gardens, which are closed for renovations.
For more information, go to www.downtownindecember.com.