Christmas Parade returns to downtown Tulsa tonight

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After a few schismatic years, downtown Tulsa will once again have a parade with the word Christmas in the name.

The Tulsa Christmas Parade starts tonight, Saturday, December 13, 2014, at 6 p.m. The rectangular parade route will begin at 7th Street and Boston Avenue, traveling north to 3rd Street, west to Boulder Ave, south to 7th.

Downtown parking meters aren't enforced on Saturday evening, so pick your spot. You'll want to avoid the area between 7th, 10th, Boulder, and Cincinnati, which will be used for staging and disbanding the floats.

You might want to plan on coming early and staying late. Following the parade at 7:15, Winterfest at 3rd and Denver will have a fireworks display. There are shopping opportunities, too: Downtown retail is enjoying a small-business comeback, particularly on Boston Ave between 3rd and 7th, including Decopolis and The Vault between 6th and 7th, Elote and Mod's Crepes in the Philcade building, which is also home to a candy store and some small "pop-up" shops. In the Blue Dome District, you'll find Dwelling Spaces and Lyon's Indian Store / Tulsa Treasures, Boomtown Tees, along with the many dining opportunities in the district.

2014_Tulsa_Christmas_Parade_Route.jpg

This parade is the culmination of a four-year effort to get Christmas back into the name of an 86-year-old Tulsa tradition.

In 2010, after the local electric utility dropped sponsorship for the parade, local business owners, including restaurateur Elliot Nelson, stepped up to present a parade downtown, calling it a Holiday Parade. The group's application for a permit to close the streets for the parade turned into a public debate over the decision not to call it a Christmas Parade.

(In fact, the name change had occurred the year before. PSO dropped Christmas from the name of the Parade of Lights in 2009, "to promote inclusiveness and promote the parade to all Tulsans even if they don't celebrate Christmas.")

Eddie Huff, an insurance agent and co-host for KFAQ's Pat Campbell Show, was one of those at the City Council meeting, and he spoke to the Council of his hope that next year, when a Tulsa Christmas Parade sought a permit, the City Council would grant it. Construction company owner Josh McFarland and insurance agent Mark Croucher had the same desire, and within a few days, Huff, McFarland, Croucher and other like-minded Tulsans were planning a Tulsa Christmas Parade for 2011.

The 2011 parade was held on Olympia Ave through the Tulsa Hills shopping center near 71st and U. S. 75 and drew a large number of both floats and spectators. The downtown Holiday Parade went on as well. While the Tulsa Christmas Parade organizers were pleased with the result, they were still hopeful that there would once again be a unified Christmas Parade downtown some year in the future.

In 2013, the Christmas Parade organizers were invited to consolidate with the downtown parade, and Josh McFarland joined the downtown parade's board. The resulting parade included Christmas in the name -- "The Downtown Parade of Lights: A Celebration of Christmas, Hanukkah and other holidays" -- but the compromise was still too watered down for the other organizers of the Tulsa Christmas Parade. A poll in fall of 2013 showed that three-quarters of Tulsans wanted "Christmas" in the name of the parade.

In 2014, the long-time executive director of the parade stepped down, and McFarland stepped into the role. With a new board and new sponsorship, the downtown parade was once again dubbed the Tulsa Christmas Parade, and Huff joined the downtown effort, feeling that his aims had been accomplished. Croucher opted to continue a Christmas Parade at Tulsa Hills, which was held last Saturday night.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on December 13, 2014 2:08 PM.

Tulsa attorney restores Bruce Goff-designed home was the previous entry in this blog.

Tulsa Boy Singers, Barthelmes, Symphony Brass concerts this week is the next entry in this blog.

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