ONEOK Freedom Fest Preps Underway Along Riverfront
By Ethan Calloway
It may be a major undertaking to get the riverfront ready for the 4th of July and ONEOK Freedom Fest, but for the people involved, it is completely worth it.One week from Thursday, the banks of the Arkansas River will be filled with spectators. The Independence Day celebration has become a Tulsa tradition, bringing people out for the patriotic holiday for around three decades.The draw of fireworks means a lot of work for riverfront businesses, like Blue Rose, preparing for big crowds."This is one of our best times of the year with the 4th of July, throughout the summer and everything," said Blue Rose General Manager, Denise Retheford. "Yeah, it's absolutely crazy. We're going to have a lot of food trucks and everything this year, down around our Elwoods cabana area. We'll be doing business as usual, serving drinks, food -- that sort of thing."But, with the crowds making their way to the river, it's a big responsibility to pay for the event and keep people coming back, year after year."We have to pay for police officers on holiday time, we have to pay for the clean-up, uh, the street closings, entertainment, 'Porta-Potties,' just a myriad of things," said River Parks Authority Director, Matt Meyer.It costs a total of around $120- $130,000 dollars to put on ONEOK Freedom Fest with about $40,000 of that going toward the fireworks, alone. All of it, made possible, almost entirely by private donors.Meyer says, even the smallest donations make a difference. "People have been giving five, ten, twenty bucks -- and that all helps."All of it, he says, is a solid investment for the nearly 60,000 people expected to take in the sights.
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