Friday nights in OKC are never dull

original image via

original image via

I love my city. Oklahoma City, that is. I think fifteen years living and working and playing in the metro area earns us the right to claim it as our own, even though we reside a hundred miles away, now.

Our small town is great—really great. I love our church, our friends, our neighborhood, and being close to grandpa. But while there are certainly interesting and worthwhile cultural and business developments happening here, we miss being a part of the exciting community growth that is happening in the heart of the capital.

Oklahoma City has so much going for it, and a lot to be proud of. You don’t have to look hard to find the myriad of impressive, entertaining, beautiful, fascinating, unique attractions and organizations, so I won’t recount all of them here.

But the thing that has me missing my city right now—other than the electric NBA playoff atmosphere (get it, Thunder fans?! ;)) and a handful of shopping errands that are now out of reach—is the wonderful collaboration of several midtown districts to create fun and free street festivals every Friday of the month.

Each event is a stand-alone production, but the good neighbors have created magic by coordinating and cross-promoting rather than competing. There has been widespread restoration in once-neglected nooks of the city, and these districts are among those transforming their neighborhood into something special.

While searching for the details of each event, I was surprised that no single site had complete information including all four. Which seems impossible, since there are plenty of news outlets and blogs enthusiastic about OKC goings-on. But if I couldn’t easily find it, then it might take some extra browsing for you, too. So, for my own reference and yours, here is the scheduled monthly rotation of OKC street festivals:

First Friday: Paseo Gallery Walk , 6-10pm year-round (NW 28th & Walker Ave to NW 30th & Dewey Ave)

The arts district presents this monthly showcase of the new work of studio owners or guest artists. More than 60 artists are represented in 17 galleries along the curve of Paseo Street.

Second Friday: LIVE on the Plaza, 7-11pm year-round (along 16th St. between Penn & Classen Blvd)

There’s a block party every month in the Plaza District, featuring live music, featured artists, special events, and local shopping.

Third Friday: Premier on Film Row, 6-9pm year-round (along W Sheridan between Dewey & Shartel)

The businesses on Historic Film Row invite families to enjoy an evening featuring film screenings, live music, art exhibitions, kid’s activities, and good eats.

Fourth Friday: H&8th Night Market, 7-11pm May-Sept (along Hudson Ave between NW 7th & NW 8th St)

This family- and pet-friendly food market is built around a lineup of more than thirty of the city’s top gourmet food trucks (all in one block!) plus fresh Oklahoma craft beer.

The first Night Market of the season is this Friday (April 25th), and if we weren’t attending a fun benefit event right around the corner from our house, I might consider extending my planned day-trip to The City so I could include a visit to H&8th. If you’re looking for something to do, or just a delicious solution for dinner, you should check it out!

*I created an interactive google map that includes all four locations for those unfamiliar with the area.

View OKC Friday Street Festivals in a larger map

team is one

Western Conference Champions. i’m breathless with excitement. (i used up all my exclamation points last night celebrating the win.)  i’m so proud to be an okie and a Thunder fan right now. and i’m truly not surprised that they’ve made it this far.

the OKC Thunder are a unique team in a obvious way that has nothing to do with their fierce talent and fearless energy on the court. they make it clear that the players consider their team a family, and the fans are part of that family. this attitude is displayed in every interview, every game, and every product.

the slogans “Rise Together” and “Team is One” are not just buzzwords, but a genuine declaration of the team’s motto. quotes from the players and coaches like “we won because we stayed together” and “you’ve got to play for your teammates” exemplify the spirit of this young team, our city, and our state. and everyone knows it.

it’s a reputation so well-known that when the NBA designed a series of promos for the playoffs centering around the word “big,” the piece on the Thunder highlighted this unified feeling. “if you are from around here, you are part of one TEAM, one FAMILY, and you’ve seen your kids grow BIG.”

the solidarity did not develop by accident. when the players arrived in OKC, they visited the bombing memorial and began to understand the impact of that event on the face of the city. kevin durant said that he wanted the NBA team to help change the persona of OKC from one associated with a tragedy to something positive. and the people of OKC have embraced the opportunity to pour their hearts into more than just honoring loved ones’ memories by rebuilding, but by rallying behind another representation of the character and strength of okies. the community has responded with love, support, and art. i just love the relationship between our players and our state.

the enthusiasm of the fans that fill the arena reaches ear-splitting decibels and defines our home-court advantage. (especially in the nosebleed sections, known as “loud-city.”) even in one of the smallest cities to have an NBA team, the games are almost always filled to capacity, and during the playoffs the entire crowd has no problem donning identical shirts to blanket the risers with a huge Thunder banner. the simple design of last night’s shirts was perfect.

and back to last night’s incredible conference-clinching win…again, there were several examples of the team spirit that epitomizes the OKC Thunder. i loved that the signature play was a durant assist to perkins in the final minute. most NBA superstars want to take that final shot. they want the highlight for their legacy, for their brand, for their rep. but not durant, who has become the face of the franchise. he was unselfish and made the right basketball play, which is characteristic of this 23-year-old leader. kd just wants to win, he doesn’t need the hype or drama. (just compare lebron’s lengthy televised decision to go to south beach to kevin’s tweet announcing his extended contract with okc for an example of how kd stands out from the typical high-caliber basketball talent.)

it’s hard to believe that we have a good chance of winning the NBA finals after just four short seasons, but i’m confident they can do it, so proud of how the team has grown, and thrilled to be experiencing this wild ride as an enthusiastic fan.