Oklahoma to be featured in New York City Thanksgiving parade


Sunday, November 20th 2005, 11:58 am
By: News On 6


OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Oklahoma will be back on Broadway this Thanksgiving, but this time as a float instead of a musical.

The Oklahoma Rising float will celebrate Oklahoma's history and future in New York City's 79th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. It's the first float to represent an entire state in that parade's history.

Oklahoma Rising commemorates Oklahoma's upcoming 100-year anniversary. Oklahoma became the 46th state in November 1907.

``Now the whole country can join with us and the proud people of this great state in celebrating this glorious anniversary,'' the parade's executive producer, Robin Hall, said in a statement.

The parade will be televised Thursday on NBC from 8 to 11 a.m. central time.

One of the stars of NBC's The West Wing, Kristin Chenoweth, will sing the musical tune ``Oklahoma!'' from the float. She will be joined on board by other notable Oklahomans_ baseball greats Bobby Murcer and Johnny Bench, Olympic gymnast Shannon Miller, former football coach Barry Switzer, Choctaw Nation representative Gena Timberman Howard, opera singer Leona Mitchell and singer/songwriter Jimmy Webb.

``I consider it a great honor,'' Howard said. ``It's a world-class state and we will be on a national and sort of an international stage. It's fitting and it's exciting.''

Howard said she is humbled to represent Indian people as well as the American Indian Cultural Center, set to open in 2007 in Oklahoma City.

``It's the history of our state,'' Howard said. ``Oklahoma is a Choctaw word. Our American Indian history in relationship to Oklahoma today is really the foundation of the state, and native people contribute in so many incredible ways throughout the state.''

Howard said she looks forward to meeting her float companions. She said jokingly she will do her best to sneak on to camera, if only for a moment.

The Oklahoma celebrities will ride in a covered wagon to represent Oklahoma's past, said Lee Allan Smith, chairman of the Oklahoma Centennial Commission.

Oklahoma's Indian roots are shown through native symbols. A rocket ship represents the state's several astronauts. And the float looks to the future with a depiction of Oklahoma's growing biomedical industry.

Oklahoma Rising will be pulled by eight Oklahoma Clydesdale horses. At Macy's request, no official sketches or design plans for the float have been released, Smith said.

Smith did not know the float's exact size, but it is ``rather large,'' he said.

Private sponsors funded the float.

The parade appearance is one of many statehood anniversary celebrations planned by the Oklahoma Centennial Commission.