Today’s featured event:
Watch Jewel Box Theatre’s production of “I Hate Hamlet” at 8 p.m. today and 2:30 p.m. Sunday at 3700 N Walker. Performances continue through Dec. 12.
For more information, go to www.jewelboxtheatre.org.
For more events, go to www.wimgo.com.
Oklahoma music megastar Garth Brooks feels his 1990 chart-topping single “Unanswered Prayers” has stood the test of time.
“I’m a big James Taylor fan, and James described going through soundcheck and here comes ‘Fire and Rain’ and you’re kind of rolling your eyes, you know, when you’re playing it. But then when you play it for people and they hear it, it’s like they’re hearing it for the first time, which brings back the first time you ever heard it yourself. And you know, you get all the (goose) bumps and all that stuff. And yeah, this song stayd very, very true,” Brooks told me in a recent phone interview from Los Angeles, where he was appearing on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” to promote the forthcoming TV movie based on “Unanswered Prayers.”
The telefilm “Unanswered Prayers” will debut at 8 p.m. Monday on Lifetime Television. Brooks and Lisa Sanderson executive produced the drama for their Red Strokes Productions. (The company also is named for one of his ‘90s singles.)
The song, featured on Brooks’ blockbuster album “No Fences,” tells the story of a married man who runs into his old high school crush at a hometown football game. He recalls how he prayed for God to put him together with that girl, but when he looks at his wife, he realizes the Lord was right to not answer his pleas.
The TV movie follows those lyrics and stars Eric Close, Samantha Mathis, Madchen Amick and Patty Duke.
The song, which Brooks co-wrote with Pat Alger and Larry Bastian, appeared on the country superstar’s blockbuster sophomore album “No Fences.” The Tulsa native has said that it was based on a real encounter he and first wife Sandy Mahl had with his “old high school flame” in October 1989.
Even though it was based on real events in his own life, Brooks told me he never thought the song was too personal to share with the world.
“If you’re gonna be yourself, if you’re gonna bear your soul, too personal, I’m not sure they go together. You know, an album should reveal a little bit about an artist. It just should, or how else are you gonna fall in love with that artist? You know, we can talk all day, ‘Yeah, I like the music’ and stuff. But there gets (to be) certain artists where people fall in love with him or her or the band, and they experience the ups and the downs with the band,” Brooks said.
“And things like ‘Unanswered Prayers’ and opening your heart and saying things things that are very personal to you, it’s gonna get you in a s—load of trouble, but at the same it’s gonna build that bond between you and those people that allow you to be an artist.”
Read much more of my interview with Brooks on Sunday in The Oklahoman, on NewsOK and here on BAM’s Blog.
1. Take in the Devon Ice Rink, Chesapeake Snow Tubing, Wimgo Holidays on the Canal and the rest of the Downtown in December attractions. The festivities begin at 5:30 p.m. today with the lighting of the SandRidge Christmas Tree, Robinson Avenue and Couch Drive. Information: www.downtownindecember.com.
2. Celebrate alternative radio at 105.3 The Spy’s Night Out one-year anniversary show featuring The Pretty Black Chains, Sherree Chamberlain, The Boom Bang , Kite Flying Robot & DJ Blake Ward and more at 7 tonight at 51st Street Speakeasy, 1114 NW 51. Information: 463-0470 or www.thespyfm.com.
3. TULSA — Take a break from holiday feasting at the fifth annual Leftover Turkey Show with Jason Boland & the Stragglers and the Turnpike Troubadours at 8 tonight at Cain’s Ballroom, 423 N Main. Information: (918) 584-2306 or www.cainsballroom.com.
4. Get in free to the Oklahoma History Center, 800 Nazih Zhudi Drive, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday in honor of the museum’s fifth anniversary. Information: 522-0765 or www.okhistorycenter.org.
5. TULSA — Attend “A Celebration of ‘Zaireeka’ and All Things Flaming Lips” at 2 p.m. Sunday at Circle Cinema, 10 S Lewis Ave. The event will include a listening party of the Lips’ landmark album “Zaireeka,” a screening of Oklahoma filmmaker Brad Beesley’s documentary “The Fearless Freaks” and Pitchfork managing editor Mark Richardson discussing his book on “Zaireeka.” Information: (918) 585-3504 or www.dwellingspaces.net.
6. TULSA – See the national touring production of “Wicked” at 8 tonight, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center, 110 E Second. For more information, go to www.celebrityattractions.com.
7. Hear Dr. Pants and Green Corn Revival at 9 tonight at VZD’s, 4200 N Western. Or catch Ike Lamb & The Creepers at 9 p.m. Saturday at VZD’s. Information: www.vzds.com.
8. Listen to Ali Harter at 10 p.m. Saturday at JJ’s Alley, 212 E Sheridan. Information: Click here for the JJ’s Alley Facebook page.
9. Watch Jewel Box Theatre’s production of “I Hate Hamlet” at 8 p.m. today and Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday at 3700 N Walker. Information: www.jewelboxtheatre.org.
10. Hear Stoney LaRue & The Arsenals and Josh Weathers Band at 8 tonight at the Wormy Dog Saloon, 311 E Sheridan. Information: www.wormydog.com.
Since the holiday season is now upon us, so movie fans can begin pulling out the DVDs of their favorite Christmas films, like “White Christmas,” “The Christmas Story,” maybe “Elf.”
How about “Bad Santa”?
Yes, it seems that the 2003 black comedy, which brought about pre-release controversy for Billy Bob Thornton’s turn as a foul-mouthed, alcoholic con man who dresses up like Santa Claus so he rob shopping malls, has made a lasting impression beyond its solid critical reviews and box office take.
It has become a holiday mainstay. And Thornton hopes it will eventually have a sequel, which would be a first in his more than two-decade acting career.
“They always play it every year. It’s funny, certain people … have talked about how it’s become one of the Christmas classics. So it’s like people will watch ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ one day, then ‘Miracle on 34th Street the next day and then they watch ‘Bad Santa.’ It’s just become part of the box set for Christmas, which is kind of funny to me,” Thornton told me in a phone interview from New York to talk about his new action film “Faster,” which opened Wednesday.
“It’s one of the movies that I’ve done that I can actually watch myself, you know, ‘cause I get a kick out of it. We actually have talked to the people that own that movie about possibly doing a sequel to that. I’ve never really done a sequel before of any of my movies. But this one seems to make sense.”
From Friday’s Weekend Look section of The Oklahoman.
Billy Bob Thornton prefers “off-center” roles
In these strange days for Hollywood, Billy Bob Thornton wants to avoid becoming a 3D vampire or a witch who turns into an alien.
“It’s a weird time in the movie business right now. You know, most of the movies they’re making are about vampires and 3D and all that kind of stuff. It’s not exactly my cup of tea … I like to do, I don’t know, more relevant things,” the actor/writer/director/musician said in a phone interview from New York.
In his latest film, “Faster,” the Arkansas native plays a character known only as Cop, a drug-addicted investigator desperate to collect his full pension and save his failing marriage. Days before his retirement, he is assigned to track Driver (Dwayne Johnson) — the principal characters are known only by their professions, and he is a getaway wheelman — an ex-con meting out retribution on the rival gang who betrayed him and his brother 10 years ago. Driver in turn is pursued by a hired Killer (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) hooked on the thrill of killing.
“It has a little bit of that ‘70s feel to it, and I love those movies of the ‘70s, along the lines of the (Sam) Peckinpah movies or like (Steve) McQueen kind of action movies,” Thornton said.
“It’s kind of an ambiguous character, you know, which I like,” he added. “He’s sort of a cop who’s kind of worn out, wants to improve his life, but he has one more thing he’s gotta do first.”
A two-time Oscar-nominated actor and an Academy Award-winning screenwriter for “Sling Blade,” Thornton, 55, prefers unconventional acting roles. Along with the mentally impaired killer in “Sling Blade,” he played “The Man Who Wasn’t There” in the Coen brothers’ black-and-white neo-noir thriller, a bitter prison guard in “Monster’s Ball” and a foul-tempered con man disguised as St. Nick in “Bad Santa.”
“I think probably the common threads of all those kind of parts that I’ve played is they’re not always the typical one. I think they probably cast me in the parts of those kind of figures that are a little off-center,” he said. adding with a laugh, “I always try to change up in each movie a little bit, you know, not just be myself every time. I mean, if I had to just play myself in every movie, I’d be bored to tears.”
Director George Tillman Jr. said the experienced actor brought credibility, creativity and collaboration to “Faster.”
“He was the first person I talked to play the Cop, and I didn’t go any further after that, because I just felt like with what he brings to the material he was the guy. Why keep looking when you’ve found him?” Tillman said in a separate phone interview.
While he enjoys making the occasional high-octane actioner like “Faster,” Thornton said he tries to balance movies and music, dramas with comedies and indie films with studio productions.
“I think I’ll probably try to do a couple of more independent kind of films next, but trying to find ‘em these days, it’s harder, you know. There’s so many like CG movies and all that kind of thing.
“I really loved doing this one,” he said. “I’d like to do another movie along the lines of ‘Monster’s Ball’ or ‘Simple Plan’ and ‘Man Who Wasn’t There.’ … There aren’t as many of them out there, and the ones that are, they’re making them for next to nothing. So it’s harder to do ‘em.”
He and his band The Boxmasters are having no trouble making music. They have recorded about 70 songs in the last three months and already have two albums ready for release. The new material shifts the band’s sonic focus from rockabilly to ‘60s pop, he said.
In addition, Thornton has returned to screenwriting, after about a decade since his last project. He just finished a script for a comedy-drama that also will put him back in the director’s chair.
“With anything I write, it’s hard to describe,” he said with a laugh. “You can’t really say, ‘Well, it’s about a witch who becomes an alien’ or anything like that. It’s a movie about people. One main theme in the movie is how different generations view war and how they deal with it and what the consequences are on your family.
“I think I can only write my kind of thing. … I mean, I just naturally write a certain way. I grew up reading Southern authors. I’m not really influenced by movies that much. I’m much more influenced by novelists, Southern novelists in particular. So my movies are usually very dependent on the characters, and I’ve known some characters in my time. … We embrace our characters in the South.”
From Friday’s Weekend Look section of The Oklahoman.
Director inspired by ’70s action films
Dwayne Johnson was given a super-cool standard to aspire to with “Faster,” his return to the muscular action roles that first kicked his acting career into high gear.
“The character he plays, the Driver, only has about 15 to 20 lines in the whole movie,” director George Tillman Jr. said in a phone interview from Los Angeles.
“So, right off the bat, we were saying, ‘This is Steve McQueen.’ You know, Steve McQueen was the guy who said less and everything was all behind his words and what he didn’t say, and you still felt emotionally connected and rooted behind him. We said this is what we want to try to do with this film, and that made it exciting for me, to direct Dwayne Johnson in a role like this that can be emotional but also his return to action.”
While Johnson was striving for action-hero greatness, the filmmaker wasn’t going easy on himself. He likened the setup of “Faster” to the classic spaghetti Western “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” a tale of three ambiguous characters that drops the audience in the middle of the gunfights, brawls and chases, though his actioner swaps horses for a slick Super Sport Chevelle.
Johnson stars as the Driver — the main three characters are men with no names, known only by their professions, and he is a getaway wheelman — who leaves prison after serving a 10-year sentence for bank robbery and immediately goes out, finds the muscle car he has arranged from behind bars and speeds to an office building, where he guns down a worker.
While his Driver is determined to mete out revenge on the rival crooks that betrayed him and his brother, a veteran Cop (Billy Bob Thornton) is assigned the case just days before he is set to retire. Also pursuing the Driver is a refined Killer (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), a hired hitman who kills more for thrills than money.
“One of the things I loved about the movie when I read the script was it just had a lot of really great elements. It had a lot of suspense, lot of mystery, lot of twists and turns and a lot of good dramatic elements to it that really made me feel close to home with what I’d done in the past,” Tillman said.
“I think this movie is a throwback, and it’s a throwback in a fresh way.”
Like his star, Tillman, whose previous directing credits include the musical biopic “Notorious,” the military drama “Men of Honor” and the family-centered comedic drama “Soul Food,” found inspiration in gritty films from the 1960s and ‘70s as he worked on his “first official action film.”
“It kind of reminded me of the films of the ‘70s, you know, films like ‘Bullitt,’ ‘The Getaway,’ ‘Vanishing Point,’” he said, referencing a pair of McQueen’s famous films with the first two picks on that list.
“You have sometimes simple stories, the characters are very ambivalent, there’s no black and white. There’s a lot of gray areas. And also some of the action sequences in the film, they’re really done live, real people. It’s not CGI, visual effects. You can feel that it’s happening in front of you.”
The fast-paced, action-packed film was shot on a tight $24 million budget and 52-day shooting schedule, which meant “Faster” was the theme for the cast and crew behind the camera, too.
“We were constantly trying to race the sun … so each day, you’ve just got to keep moving,” he said. “These guys are professionals, and they were ready all the time. What it did is it just added that excitement to the movie.”
Like McQueen, Johnson has the physicality as well as the charisma to play that archetypal stoic action star, Tillman said.
“His body is made to play an action hero, and he has the charm that no matter what the role that you want to get behind him and root for him,” Tillman said of the former professional wrestler.
“He’s eager to learn and (has) an eagerness to try different things. In this role, he’s very emotional; there’s at least three or four emotional scenes in the movie that people haven’t seen him do before. His commitment is there, his talent is there.”
From Friday’s Weekend Look section of The Oklahoman. This holiday movie guide brought to you by Brandy McDonnell of BAM’s Blog and George Lang of Staticblog.
Movie fans can fill up with holiday film feast
The Thanksgiving turkey, dressing and pie have been consumed, but Hollywood is planning plenty of cinematic feasting between now and the end of the year.
The holiday movie season began in earnest Wednesday, when the latest Disney princess tale “Tangled,” Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s return to R-rated action “Faster” and Cher and Christiana Aguilera’s diva’s delight “Burlesque” became the first courses of a veritable banquet of anticipated award nominees, family-friendly fantasy and fast-paced action.
So, swap the drumstick for a bucket of popcorn and enjoy one of these movie treats. Just be sure to check local listings before you head to the theater, since movie studios love to rearrange release dates.
Disney’s latest animated princess tale “Tangled” features Rapunzel (voice of Mandy Moore) letting down her hair and finding adventure with the help of a ne’er-do-well bandit (“Chuck’s” Zachary Levi) who seeks a hiding place inside her tall tower.
Director Danny Boyle follows up on his Oscar-winning success with “Slumdog Millionaire” with “127 Hours,” the fact-based tale of an adventurer (James Franco) who must resort to desperate measures when he gets trapped under a boulder while canyon climbing alone near Moab, Utah.
In “Burlesque,” Ali, a small town girl with a big voice (Christina Aguilera), goes to L.A. to find her fortune but winds up waiting tables in The Burlesque Lounge, a once-great nightclub gone to seed. But thanks to help from Tess (Cher), the club’s proprietor, she goes from waitressing to fulfilling her dreams and belting out showstoppers.
Dwayne Johnson plays Driver (that’s his name, not his profession), who is released after 10 years in prison with one plan: avenge the death of his brother, who he lost during the botched bank robbery that landed him there. in “Faster.” But in “Faster,” there are two men on his trail: an inventive hitman (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) and Billy Bob Thornton as a veteran cop just days away from retirement — seriously, aren’t they always?
In “Love and Other Drugs,” director Edward Zwick’s adaptation of the memoir “Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman,” Jake Gyllenhaal plays Jamie Randall, a pharmaceutical rep pushing blue, diamond-shaped magic pills. He meets Anne Hathaway’s Maggie Murdock during one of his sales calls and … you take it from there.
Kate Bosworth, Geoffrey Rush and Danny Huston headline the international cast of the martial arts Western “The Warrior’s Way,” about an assassin (Jang Dong-gun) hiding out in a small town in the American Badlands after refusing an assignment.
In “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,” the third installment of C.S. Lewis’ classic series, Edmund and Lucy Pevensie (Skandar Keynes and Georgie Henley) are visiting their cousin, Eustace Scrubb (Will Poulter of “Son of Rambow”) when they are drawn into an old painting of a ship. They join King Caspian (Ben Barnes) in his voyage to find the banished “seven lords.” Stick around for the end credits to hear “There’s a Place for Us,” the theme Checotah native Carrie Underwood co-wrote and recorded for the film.
Sometimes a vacation isn’t really a vacation: In “The Tourist,” Johnny Depp stars as Frank Taylor, an American vacationing in Italy who meets Elise Clifton-Ward (Angelina Jolie), but do you think it’s a chance meeting? It seems Elise wants to use Frank to throw investigators off the scent of her fugitive former lover. This is why you buy travel insurance.
Ben Affleck, Chris Cooper and Tommy Lee Jones play three businessmen searching for direction in their lives after they are laid off in the timely drama “The Company Men.”
“Tamara Drewe,” the latest comedy from director Stephen Frears (“The Queen,” “High Fidelity”) stars Gemma Arterton (“Quantum of Solace”) as a journalist who returns to her English country hometown, where her childhood home is about to be sold.
One of the most anticipated films of the year, “Tron: Legacy” picks up 20 years after the ending of 1982’s “Tron,” when Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund) picks up a signal from the abandoned Flynn’s Arcade that could only be coming from his lost father Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), who has become a ghost in the machine, so to speak. “Tron” was not a huge hit in its day, but it’s fondly remembered, so expect long lines, spectacular effects and a must-have soundtrack from Daft Punk.
For his first film since 2004’s “Spanglish,” writer-director James L. Brooks’ “How Do You Know” stars Reece Witherspoon as a former athlete caught in a love triangle between a major league pitcher (Owen Wilson) and a corporate executive (Paul Rudd). It also stars Jack Nicholson in a supporting role, breaking his long, post-“Bucket List” quiet streak.
Christian Bale, Mark Wahlberg and Amy Adams star in “The Fighter,” with director David O. Russell (“Three Kings”) telling the story of pro boxer “Irish” Micky Ward (Wahlberg) and his half-brother/trainer Dick Eklund (Bale).
For good or for bad, “Yogi Bear” is the “Alvin and the Chipmunks” of 2010, a combination of live action and computer animation with Dan Ackroyd providing the voice for Yogi and Justin Timberlake following up his amazing performance in “The Social Network” by, yes, playing Boo-Boo Bear.
Darren Aronofsky’s long-awaited thriller “Black Swan” stars Natalie Portman as Nina, a prima ballerina going mad from the stress of competition during a New York production of the titular ballet. Co-starring Mila Kunis (“Forgetting Sarah Marshall”) and Vincent Cassel (“Oceans Twelve”), “Black Swan” features the best performance of Portman’s career — the likely Oscar nod can be taken to the bank.
So, Jonathan Swift wrote a satirical novel in 1726, “Gulliver’s Travels,” in which he made allusions to conflicts between governments and religions as seen through the eyes of a man who finds himself living among tiny people, giants and intelligent horses. But this one has Jack Black as a marooned travel writer playing foosball with tiny guys. Score!
In the sequel “Little Fockers,” Greg and Pam Focker (Ben Stiller and Teri Polo) now have 5-year-old twins, and Greg’s midlife crisis makes his father-in-law, former CIA man Jack Byrnes (Robert De Niro) suspicious. There will be many misunderstandings among the all-star cast, including Blythe Danner, Owen Wilson, Dustin Hoffman, Barbra Streisand and Jessica Alba.
Joel and Ethan Coen tackle Charles Portis’ 1968 novel “True Grit” — and it’s John Wayne-led 1969 adaptation — with Jeff Bridges as Reuben “Rooster” Cogburn, the alcoholic U.S. marshal who helps 14-year-old Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) avenge the murder of her father. This is sacred territory for many Wayne fans, but who better to take on the Duke than the Dude?
Also for the holidays
These films are expected to open in Oklahoma City by the end of the year, but haven’t been given firm release dates:
Sally Hawkins and Bob Hoskins star in “Made in Dagenham,” based on the 1968 strike at the Ford Dagenham car plant, where women workers walked out to protest sexual discrimination.
Writer-director Sofia Coppola (“Lost in Translation”) goes “Somewhere” with the tale of a hard-living actor (Stephen Dorff) who must reexamine his life once his 11-year-old daughter (Elle Fanning) pays him a visit.
Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor star in “I Love You Phillip Morris,” based on a true story about a small-town businessman’s transformation into a flamboyant con artist who broke out of the Texas prison system four times.
From Friday’s Weekend Look section of The Oklahoman.
Museum to show Millennium Trilogy films
The Oklahoma City Museum of Art is planning a blowout in honor of the internationally best-selling Millennium Trilogy.
The museum’s Noble Theater, 415 Couch Drive, will screen over the next two weeks all three blockbuster Swedish-language films based on the popular book series: “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” “The Girl Who Played with Fire” and “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.”
Series opener “Dragon Tattoo” will screen at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and Dec. 7. “Played with Fire” will be shown at 7:30 pm. Wednesday, Thursday and Dec. 8-9. The finale, “Hornet’s Nest,” will screen at 5:30 and 8:30 p.m. Dec. 3-4 and 10-11 and 2 p.m. Dec. 5 and 12.
The films, which include English subtitles, are adapted from the late Steig Larsson’s crime thriller trilogy, which has sold more than 20 million copies in 40 countries. A Swedish journalist and author, Larsson died of a heart attack in 2004, shortly after he finished the series. The books were published posthumously.
The Swedish films have proven so popular that an American version of “Dragon Tattoo” is planned for 2011 release. Oscar nominee David Fincher will direct the Hollywood adaptation, which will star Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Robin Wright, Christopher Plummer, Joely Richardson and Stellan Skarsgard.
From Friday’s Weekend Look section of The Oklahoman.
The annual Downtown in December festival officially starts today with the lighting of the SandRidge Christmas Tree. For more information, go to www.downtownindecember.com.
Sandridge Christmas Tree: The 32-foot-tall decorated evergreen has been moved to Robinson Avenue and Couch Drive, east of Leadership Square, 211 N Robinson. After the lighting ceremony at 5:30 p.m. today, free family-friendly activities will be offered inside Leadership Square. The tree will remain up throughout the holiday season.
Wimgo Holidays on the Canal: Take a free Water Taxi cruise on the Bricktown Canal from 6 to 9:30 p.m. Thursday-Sundays today through Dec. 26. The attraction is closed Christmas Day. Board the boats below Mickey Mantle Boulevard.
Devon Ice Rink: The rink is on the lawn of the Civic Center, 201 N Walker. It is open from noon to 10 p.m. daily today-Jan. 2. Christmas Even hours are noon to 5 p.m.; New Year’s Even hours are noon to 11 p.m. Cost is $8, which includes skate rental, or $5 for those who bring their own skates.
Chesapeake Snow Tubing: Zip down the snowy slopes inside the AT&T Bricktown Ballpark. The attraction is open varying hours Fridays-Sundays today through Dec. 12 and varying hours daily from Dec. 17 to Jan. 2. Admission is $10 per 90-minute session. Session sizes are limited and operated on a first-come, first serve basis.
Oklahoma City Community Foundation Free Museum Sundays: A different city museum will be open for free from 1 to 6 p.m. each Sunday during the festival. The Oklahoma City Museum of Art, 415 Couch Drive, will be free this Sunday; American Banjo Museum, 9 E Sheridan Ave., on Dec. 5; Gaylord-Pickens Oklahoma Heritage Museum, 1400 Classen Drive, on Dec. 12; Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum, 620 N Harvey on Jan. 2. All four museums will offer free admission Dec. 19.
OK Cityscape: Two million Legos were used to build the massive replica of Oklahoma City at 1100 N Broadway Ave. in Automobile Alley. Hours are noon to 9 p.m. Mondays-Fridays and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturdays through Dec. 31. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children 12 and younger.
Devon Energy Holiday River Parade: On Dec. 4, the sixth parade will feature free music, entertainment, a fireworks show and more than 20 light-draped boats cruising the river. Viewing areas at Regatta Park and Wiley Post Park will open at 4 p.m. Information: www.okcparade.com.
Oklahoma River Holiday Cruises: Take in hot cocoa, holiday music and the downtown Oklahoma City skyline from an open-air deck or the heated cabin. Introductory cruises are free for all ages; children must be accompanied by an adult. Passengers can board at Regatta Park, 701 S Lincoln Blvd. Space is limited. First-come, first-served. Hours are 1 to 6 p.m. Sundays this week through Dec. 26.
OG&E Barons Night: Be one of the first 2,000 fans through the door for the Oklahoma City Barons’ Dec. 17 game against the Hamilton Bulldogs at the Cox Convention Center and receive a free Snuggie-style blanket. The puck drops at 6:05 p.m. Tickets: www.okcbarons.com.
SandRidge Santa Run: The Dec. 4 event will include a 5K run, one-mile Fun Run and a free Kids Dash. Participants can come in their in favorite holiday garb and take part in the costume contest. After the race, a youth health fair will take place inside Leadership Square. Admission varies by race.
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.