Tulsa Freedom Fest Defied Recession

Sunday, July 5th 2009, 5:46 pm
By: News On 6

By Dan Bewley, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Though the fireworks display was canceled, there were many other celebrations during the Tulsa Freedom Fest weekend.

Patriotism was on full display this 4th of July; even man's best friend was getting into it at RiverWest Festival Parks. One celebrant died his canine red, white and blue to show his patriotic spirit.

Tulsans gathered to pay tribute to Old Glory. Even new residents like Rob Tillotson who just moved here from the West Coast.

"Tulsa's got bigger fireworks than California, so I had to bring my boys out - me, my wife and a couple buddies are hanging out," said Rob Tillotson.

Even some temporary Tulsans paraded to the party. Six hundred Honda Gold Wings took time from Wing Ding 31 to celebrate the red, white, and blue.

It's a very honor just to be able to be in this parade with all these other parade that celebrate it and feel the same way we do," said Pam DePriest, a Gold Wing rider from Arkansas.

Freedom Fest is Tulsa's tribute to America. This year's celebration has been in the works for more than a year, but when the economy started to slide some wondered if the festival would become another victim.

Thanks to corporate sponsors and generous citizens the party goes on.

"This event is very important to Tulsans, they don't want to see it go by the wayside even in these hard economic times. We're able to put on this event as a free event in Tulsa because of all the sponsorships we receive," said Tonja Pitzer of RiverParks Authority.

Sponsors like Lafarge who donated this rock climbing wall. The Crusty Croissant filled the gap left vacant when the River's Edge left the east bank of the river; even Tulsa residents donated more than $5,000 when organizers asked for help.

"We had $5 checks, we had $1,000 checks," Pitzer said.

Finding a way to celebrate during the recession was an impressive feat, say these out-of-towners who are proud to spend the Fourth in Tulsa.

"It's incredible that they would go ahead and do that, I'm really impressed. Tulsa's a great city anyhow, even though I'm from Arkansas," said Bobbye Beecher.