William F. O'Brien
Special to The Sun
OKLA. CITY —
In his history of London entitled “London, The Biography,” British historian Peter Ackroyd writes of how the Thames River froze on several occasions in the 17th century.
In the winter of 1683, the people of London flocked to that frozen waterway and held what was known as a “Frost Fair” in which merchants set up small shops and food stands on the ice and young people rode sleds and skated over the Thames.
There was a festive atmosphere at the Frost Fair and Ackroyd quotes of a contemporary account that details how an ox was roasted on the ice and that King Charles came to the fair and ate a piece of it. A somewhat similar event was held in downtown Oklahoma City over the holiday season when the Myriad Botanical Gardens hosted the Devon Skating Rink that brought people from throughout the region to its confines.
This is the third year that Devon has sponsored the skating rink. Skaters of various ages and ethnicities could be seen gleefully gliding over the ice during the day and at night and some children seemed to radiate a newfound confidence as they learned to skate.
An important life lesson, the need to get up after falling down, could also be seen being learned there as well. Adjacent to the skating rink were temporary sites that offered food and drink and pop-up shops that included goods from a variety of Oklahoma City stores.
Friday nights a disc jockey played music and some dance moves from the disco era were reborn under a silver moon upon the frozen water that filled the Myriad Gardens.
On the Devon Tower, which is adjacent to the Myriad Gardens, an enormous red Christmas tree ornament adorned the main entrance and it made its way into homes and sports bars across the nation when it was shown on television when the Oklahoma City Thunder basketball team played at home during the month of December.
Inside the main cathedral-like hallway of that structure three gigantic silver pine cones were suspended in air and visitors could be seen holding their cell phones aloft as they took pictures of them. Smaller silver Christmas tree ornaments filled the planters in the lobby of the building. The rear entrance to the tower was guarded by a large wooden soldier who stood as a solitary sentry as smiling people who seemed to be imbued with the holiday spirit entered and exited it.
The Devon Tower and skating rink will be part of the Christmas of 2013 memories of many people and are also now a holiday tradition in Oklahoma City.
William F. O’Brien is an Oklahoma City attorney.