OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA — You might not remember but it was kind of cold in early January, 2018, just cold enough for Boyd Poteet to turn the sprinkler on outside of Taggart’s Nursery south of Hennessey, OK.
Point forward to late 2018 and we saw another amazing structure in Hennessey go up in less time than it takes an icicle to form.
This is the largest soft sided structure ever built, 70 feet high, 195 feet in diameter, and inflated in less than 2 hours.
By the end of 2019 this will be the school’s new gym and storm shelter.
School Supt. Mike Woods marvelled, “We didn’t have a building here about an hour-and-a-half ago and now we do.”
So where did we go in 2019.
The better question might be, ‘Where didn’t we go?’.
We saw eagles in Perkins, the state’s largest and newest telescope in Blaine County, and the monarchs flying through El Reno.
We sampled elderberry everything near Webbers Falls, played chase with movie dinosaurs at Little Sahara, played Viking at the Heavener Runestone State Park, fished for walleye at Canton Lake, and flew in a B-17 Flying Fortress on a sparkling spring day.
We met some amazing people too, some old friends, but mostly new.
The Oklahoma City Philharmonic orchestra got a new conductor.
We played a little soccer with Peter Mikelthwaite.
We met a great new friend and potential feature reporter, Trenton Hoover, at Chickasha’s Special Needs Livestock Show.
We also made friends with two civil rights pioneers.
The Joyces, Henderson and Jackson.
Their part of the celebration of 60 years since the country’s first peaceful sit-ins made number 4 on our list of Top 4 stories.
Recalling their occupation of segregated lunch counters both chuckled, “We used to say that if they had fed us we wouldn’t have had any money to pay for the hamburger and coke.”
Pictures tell stories best on television and we caught some pretty good ones in 2018.
Joe Slack’s cool new sculpture at 15th and I-35 in Edmond caught our eye.
So did Chris Barbee’s bowling ball yard art in Nowata.
“When it quits being fun I’ll quit,” he said.
And how about Sarah Hites training for a marathon with her unique running partner, a Nigerian Dwarf goat.
But for cool pictures and a good story, nothing topped Chelsea Ryan’s mastery of the Cyr Wheel.
Her one woman performance whirlwind she calls Hooplahoma got her to number 3 on our list of Top 4.
In February, Chelsea commented, “I’d never seen anything like this before and I thought I could do it.”
For more good stories and for Number 2 on our list, we really liked the journey taken by this Boy Scout flag.
It went from a Troop in Weatherford, to space with astronaut and former Scout Tom Stafford on Apollo X, and, to an Oklahoma City Scout troop, and, finally, brought back to the Stafford Air and Space Museum nearly 50 years after its flight, a long, strange journey to its rightful home.
Scout leader Chuck McBride told us, “It needed to be where lots of people could see it and appreciate it.”
I’m leaving cool stories out, cool people too.
But, finally, it’s time to celebrate a group of dads in Fairview for our year’s top story.
Their non-profit organization is called F.A.I.T.H. for Fathers Are In The House.
There are 40 of them on rotation, a handful there every morning to greet kids at Cornelson Elementary.
“A lot of kids that don’t really have a male role model at home,” explained one FAITH father, “and we wanted to fix that.”
When we think of the best things in Oklahoma, best places, best people, these guys and the smiles they brought forth came to mind first.
So that’s 2018.
Here’s to finding lots more stories like this in 2019.