2009: The Plaza District Shined!
Its December 31st, which means bloggers and various publications are publishing their top 2009 lists and highlights. In reading all these, I felt compelled to write our own 2009 highlight lookback. We’ve had a truly amazing year. New businesses, fabulous events, and talented artists have played, displayed and performed. Here’s a look back at Plaza District 2009, a year that really did shine!
The Opening of Velvet Monkey Salon
The much anticipated, beautifully renovated New State Icehouse was once again open as Velvet Monkey Salon. Owner Estrella Evans renovated the building for her full service salon, and also her private residence. Now clients come to Velvet Monkey in the Plaza for the talented stylists, quality service and funky atmosphere!
Held at the esteemed RED Prime Steak, the 2009 Urban Pioneer Awards honored former City Councilwoman Ann Simank. Her tremendous work in inner-city revitalization was recognized by individuals, companies and organizations across Oklahoma City. The Urban Pioneer Awards also serves as the Plaza District Assoication’s fundraising campaign, and the event was a fantastic success in honoring Ann’s dedication to Oklahoma City
1708 is the creative co-op of three dedicated businesses, Cafe Evoke Catering, Josh McCullock Photography and Gibson Events. These three, though separate businesses work together in client relations and together, share office space and ideas. Their hip interior provides for fantastic gatherings, parties and with that, many fun events took place at 1708 throughout the year
Speaking of fantastic gatherings, Cafe Evoke Catering started Free Coffee Mondays, where every Monday anyone can come grab a free cup of delicious coffee. Publicity for the event was held mostly over twitter, facebook and word of mouth. Every Monday a dedicated group would gather, starting the week off with friends new and old. Some stayed to chat, others popped in for a quick hello, either way Free Coffee Monday created new friendships, warmed cold souls and caffeinated all for the busy week ahead.
It was a big deal! A pleasant surprise to learn that Plaza businesses were nominated for 10 categories in the Oklahoma Gazette’s Best of OKC vote. We are so proud of what this says about our businesses and the Plaza District as a Best of OKC destination! Thanks so much to all of you who voted and supported the businesses in that vote. Although we were thrilled about the nominations, were excited to learn that 3 businesses, Lyric Theatre, Velvet Monkey Salon and Cafe Evoke Catering were winners!
What started out in 2008 as a few dedicated friends of Plaza folks coming out to support, in 2009 has turned into the busy, happening and hip place to be every Second Friday! In the past year, we have featured many talented local artists, musicians, performers, as well as hosted deadCENTER film screenings, open houses, grand opening and anniversary celebrations. Heck, there was even a Fanny Pack Fashion Show, an Urban Egg Hunt for kiddos, a Mario Kart tournament and Kareoke! We are so thrilled at the growth of LIVE on the Plaza, and we are looking forward to 12 more fantastic LIVE‘s in 2010.
Even more than Velvet Monkey and 1708, enter Coffy’s Cafe, Shop Good, Curious & Curiouser, the relocation & expansion of Bad Granny’s Bazaar, JuJu Gallery, Studio FJ, Chaparney and Parts&Labor. This blend of retail, local art, vintage, antiques, gluten-free and vegetarian cuisine, and graphic/web design has truly taken the Plaza District to a new level. We are so happy for the support, investment and individual roles all these businesses have played in the development of the district. Each and every one is unique, but all hold quality service, merchandise and creativity. We are looking forward to the continued growth of all the businesses in 2010!
For our little rendition of The Office’s “The Dundees”, “The Plazies” honored Plaza District businesses, people, friends and locals with some very unique awards. Complete with hot dogs, beer and kareoke, the Plazies were a fun way to gather all the Plaza peeps and have a good time. No, Kristen Vails didn’t rap like Micheal Scott, but there is always next year.
What a success it was! It was a day filled with talented visual artists, fabulous stage performers and bands, and plenty of creative and fun activities for the kiddos. We were so thrilled about the large attendance as well as the impact the festival had on our local businesses. It couldn’t have been done without the hard work of many volunteers and the support of awesome sponsors, so to all another BIG thank you! Were are looking forward to the 2010 Plaza District Festival already!
In the News
The Plaza District was featured in so many papers, publications, online posts, videos, blogs, television and more I can barely keep track! Its apparent Plaza District is on the move appearing in almost all local press outlets! A big thanks to the many media contacts who truly see the value and impact Plaza District is having on Oklahoma City. The thanks goes to: Artbeat, ArtFocus Magazine, The City Sentinel, The Daily Oklahoman and NewsOK.com, Discover Oklahoma, Distinctly Oklahoma, Downtown Monthly, LOOK at OKC, Metro Family Magazine, OKC Biz, OKCCentral.com, OKC Friday, The Oklahoma Daily, Oklahoma Today, Oklavision.com, TheLostOgle.com, and the many other online posts from Plaza District supporters!
There are many other great highlights worth mentioning, Lyric Theatre’s packed schedule included The Who’s Tommy, Woody Sez, Steel Magnolias. We hosted the informative and debated “Urbanity”conversation, a panel discussion on urban living at Estrella Evan’s residence. The Plaza District received an Oklahoma Main Street Award for Best Web Presence, The Velvet Monkey Salon was featured on the 2009 AIA Tour, and our very own artist Dylan Bradway traveled to Germany to show artwork. Many of us made new friends in the district, became new neighbors and came together for a common goal. Of all the memories, my favorites involved the many stories I heard one after another. Stories about how the Plaza District used to be, whether it be the happening commerical district of the 50s or the crime-ridden blight of the 80s and 90s. Every story, however, ends with how far it has come and how exciting it is now.
All in all it was a great year, we have made so many strides, made new friends and we are continuing to make the Plaza District a better place. Though we are here, day in and day out, the changes and improvements are easy to see. Here is to 2010, our expectations are that some great things will take place! Please join us in that, you’ll want to be a part of it
-Kristen Vails, Director, Plaza District Association
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