The Scissortail Paradigm
By Ron Page
The Scissortail Park may impact our community in more ways than we could have imagined. Yes, it helps tie the north and south sides of the city together, and yes, it gives people in the inner city a “place to go”, and, yes, it is a feather in our cap, but I hope there is something deeper.
As Alyce and I slithered through the dense crowd massed hundreds of feet out from the Scissortail stage at Friday night’s opening, a seam just wide enough for us to proceed another few steps always presented itself, as did flashlights and courteous gestures. Concert attendees who might have made a display of inconvenience at having their view interrupted or their blanket stepped on were nowhere in the crowd. It certainly seemed the 26,000 in attendance were part of one big family.
Alyce suspects our pleasant Scissortail Park experience reflects a sort of backlash to the political hatred we see playing out on TV and social media. She reasons people are weary of all the unpleasantness and are eager to prove to themselves and others that they are kind, considerate people.
She has a point, but I think, also, there is something about entering a big public park that allows us to set aside our stress, our vanity, and our sense of urgency. We enter a world where social status doesn’t exist, where political turmoil is left behind, and where we share our watermelon with complete strangers. Large grassy expanses provide a place for our children to run and play. Water features are often a highlight, and, as is the case with Scissortail, boats are available for rent. We recruit participants in spontaneous sporting events without regard to age, race, or gender.
At an Atlanta public park, I watched my teenage grandson play in a pickup basketball game. I noticed that on the court alongside, a mother was working with her partially disabled son whose enthusiasm for the sport was clear, but whose lack of motor skills would prevent him from being able to participate in an actual game, or so I thought until it was time to choose up teams for the next contest. A young man who appeared to be among the most dominant (and somewhat flamboyant) players on the court invited him to play on his team where he was treated, without pandering, as “just another one of the guys”. The flashy player was black, the disabled boy was white. That’s the kind of stuff that happens in a public park.
Those who have read my Rotary Reflections articles previously know I like to make references to my farm upbringing in northern Illinois, and this one will not be an exception. How well I remember Lowell Park at Dixon, Illinois. Aunts, uncles and cousins made a good-sized group and we took pride in being part of it. With my cousins, we romped and played and explored until the scent of the wood-burning grill and the aroma of picnic food lured us back for the feast. I remember vividly when two of my uncles mysteriously disappeared for a half-hour, then returned with a large object in the bed of their pickup truck. Oddly, it was covered with a heavy quilted canvas – very strange, I thought, until my uncle peeled back the canvas flaps from its top and began serving ice cream fresh from the local dairy.
My hope is that Scissortail Park will become the heart of Oklahoma City where every sector of our community comes together for a safe, healthy, bonding, emotionally lifting experience that will provide memories that last a lifetime. I call my hope “The Scissortail Paradigm”.