Groundbreaking is the celebration of new life. It’s the celebration of a new beginning; the beginning of a new project and the beginning of breathing life into a building with the start of construction. Groundbreaking is a traditional ceremony around the globe signifying the beginning of construction. Although the “ceremonial groundbreaking” may actually take place some time prior to the beginning of construction it is a ceremony that allows the owner to celebrate the beginning of a new project with friends, dignitaries, businessmen and special guests.
The groundbreaking of the Chickasaw Visitor Center was masterfully orchestrated by the Chickasaw Nation. The setting was the site were the Visitor center is to be constructed. A large tent was in place to provide a comfortable attendance by a large number of guests. The backdrop of the groundbreaking was the Artesian Hotel project across Muskogee Avenue to the north. A large table of refreshments was being prepared for the guests with a variety of finger foods (including piglets-in- a-blanket from the Donut Palace across the street to the west) along with fruit and beverages.
The master of ceremonies was Bill Lance, Administrator of the Division of Commerce of the Chickasaw Nation. After welcoming all the people present to this special event, Bill introduced a number of key guests. In attendance were nearly all the members of the Chickasaw Legislature, members of the Chickasaw judicial body, other Administrators of Chickasaw divisions, members of the state legislature, county officials, leader’s of the City of Sulphur, FSB architects/engineers and Flintco Construction Company. There was an invocation to bless the day and new Visitor Center. Bill Lance’s last introduction was left for Mr. Bill Anoatubby the Governor of the Chickasaw Nation.
Governor Anoatubby is a great statesman and skillful speaker. He is soft spoken and draws you into his speech with a meaningful message that is significant to the celebration of the day. He talked of the Nation’s partnership with the City of Sulphur and all the great things that can come forth from that relationship. He spoke of other Chickasaw projects in the area that are also making a difference in the lives of many. He then spoke of a grater vision for Murray County and how it is destined to become a growing part of the tourism of the state of Oklahoma.
Following the Governor’s message, it was time to break ground. The Governor, Chickasaw officials and dignitaries all grabbed gold shovels that were prepared just for the event and lined up along a carefully prepared strip of dirt. On a countdown all shovels were directed into the dirt with the amazing timing and coordination of a synchronized swimming team. And with that, it was done. The project was officially started. The gathering of all the people then turned into a social event, a large family affair; people catching up with each other, people sharing food. I ran into several new friends including Shelly Sawatzky the executive director of the Sulphur Chamber of Commerce. I met people that have been faithfully following the FSB Blog that features the Chickasaw Visitor Center. The media then gathered around the Governor for an impromptu press conference.
This was a great event, a proper groundbreaking for the Visitor Center. I was headed back to Oklahoma City and jumped into my car for a requested phone interview with OklaVision who wanted an update on the project. I informed them that I had just attended the ceremonial groundbreaking of the Visitor Center and the phone interview turned into an invite to their live midday Tuesday broadcast. I was back in Oklahoma City within a matter of 70 or so minutes and pulled up to their studio located in the Administration Building of the Indian Cultural Center (it’s the first completed building on the campus). When I walked in I was mic’d up and ushered into the green room. This was my first green room experience; I’ve designed a number of them but hadn’t been the user until now. My interview was to be with none other than investigative reporter Katie Kurtz. While in the green room I texted her photos of the groundbreaking from my pocket cam (iphone) which she in turn flashed to her technical crew to put on the broadcast.
It was show time and I was escorted to a classic interview set with two chairs and a coffee table in front. To my right was the news desk where anchorman Brent was getting ready to introduce a late breaking news story with their special guest Fred Schmidt with FSB architects/engineers. To my left was another set laid out for investigative news and headliner reporting. A last few adjustments to my lapel mic and then Katie and I were live. She asked questions about the project and its design. Then I conveyed to her the sequence of events at the groundbreaking as my photos from only a couple hours earlier flashed on the TV screen. FSB’s name was again in the news, this time live and the FSB Blog was given a couple good plugs.
This was a groundbreaking to remember, I’m sure foretelling of a great project to come. “Click here” to view the live cast.