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Chill out

Winter’s cold fury might scare the weak at heart, but that doesn’t mean the metro calendar hibernates into spring.

Charles Martin November 30th, 2011

For those already suffering from winter’s cabin fever, plenty of opportunities await to keep you venturing outdoors.

Oklahomans have a love/hate relationship with ice. On one hand, we have devastating storms. On the other, we have the Oklahoma City Barons hockey team and ice rinks dotting the map, including a brand-new outdoor rink debuting Friday at the Festival Marketplace in Edmond.

Running from noon to 10 p.m. daily, the rink aims to draw holiday traffic to downtown Edmond shops, galleries and restaurants.

Steppin’ out
Downtown Edmond won’t be the only cluster of business owners luring foot traffic away from the shopping malls. Monthly art walks have become a successful showcase for an array of creatives, starting with First Fridays in the Paseo Arts District, followed by a pair each second Friday in the Norman’s Circuit of Art and the Plaza District’s Live on the Plaza.

right, Downtown Edmond

December is particularly critical for the shops, as Christmas is the perfect time for customers to look beyond retail giants for presents with a more personal touch.

“I don’t want to buy something for a friend that they could get from someone else,” said Josh Lunsford, Norman Arts Council associate director. “I want my present to have a special feel, something unique from a local artist. By doing that, you are better supporting your local community.”

Get ‘territorial’
Guthrie also enjoys a thriving arts and retail district in its downtown, which is flush with Victorian architecture still standing from the time when the city was Oklahoma’s political center. Each winter, a Dickensian aura prevails as the shop owners play into Guthrie’s history for a “Territorial Christmas Celebration,” including living window scenes at stores, candlelit trolley tours and a lighted parade.

“I am 60-something years old, and our town reminds me of the winters when I was a kid,” said Don Riepe, Guthrie Chamber of Commerce chairman. “We have the lights on the buildings that make it a beautiful, picture-perfect town. Everything in the windows is geared for Christmas, with live scenes with people dressed in Victorian clothes. It just makes you step back in time.”

Riepe also serves as chair for Saturday’s lighted parade, which officially kicks off the celebration. He said there were 38 entries in last year’s parade.

Great Shakes
Winter has managed to chase Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park indoors, but that doesn’t mean the troupe keeps its calendar cold. Instead, OSP will tackle Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” for a series of library performances.

Also, from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday at Oklahoma City University, OSP will introduce “Christmas Tea with the Queen” as a fundraiser for the company’s educational programs. At $20 a ticket, the event helps fund the annual summer camps and the Secondary School Shakespeare Festival.

“It is tea, so it’s an afternoon respite from Christmas shopping,” said Kathryn McGill, OSP executive director. “There will also be entertainment with Queen Elizabeth I, who will be there along with some of her ladies in waiting. We are also doing a fashion show through the ages.”

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