Get ready for the Christmas Chute!
Published Oct. 20, 2022
"It opens the door to the future"
Preparations continue for the Route 66 Christmas Chute opening Nov. 3 in downtown Sapulpa
A new holiday extravaganza entitled the "Route 66 Christmas Chute" promises several long-term dividends for Sapulpa.
Through the work of more than 300 volunteers under 10 active committees, Sapulpans have built 10 large pavilions covering the outer lanes of historic Route 66 as it passes through downtown. Citizens are busy decorating each steel shelter with a different festive holiday theme in preparation for the Nov. 3 "Light's On!" celebration opening Sapulpa's Christmas season.
"It's just an amazing community effort," said David Reed as he worked with his Reed Architecture and Interiors teammates to decorate one pavilion. "It's extraordinary, the amount of work it took to pull this off."
Sapulpa Chamber of Commerce President Janet Birnie expects her entire city to benefit – and not just this Christmas, but for years to come.
"There's nothing like this in the state," said Will Berry, who prefers the title "Sapulpa citizen" to his executive post with Sapulpa's D.C. Bass and Sons Construction Co. "It will give people across Oklahoma a place to come and experience Christmas as never before, with related events held several days each week right up to New Year's Day."
The city raised more than $800,000 in donations from individuals and businesses to pull this off. Details of this seasonal wonderland dazzle the mind:
35,000 feet of festive lights
1,100 feet of decorations
15,000 feet of garland
1,100 grand ball ornaments
To achieve this, the northeastern Oklahoma community took ownership of roughly three Route 66 miles across downtown and western Sapulpa.
"That's huge," said Cindy Lawrence, director of the Sapulpa Main Street program.
This required almost two years of negotiation and planning with state transportation officials to reroute all sorts of present and future commercial traffic to other Sapulpa arteries. City officials expect to retain the benefits of that business on roads more suited to its needs. More important, taking control of this Route 66 segment allows Sapulpa to better tap the Mother Road's cultural value.
"We will be able to use this historic section of Route 66 for all sorts of celebrations and events," said Lawrence. "It opens the door to the future."
This section of highway connects downtown with other Sapulpa Route 66 attractions, including:
David Reed joins in decorating efforts
The Heart of Route 66 Auto Museum, which is preparing a 60-percent expansion.
Bridge 18 at Rock Creek, the highway's oldest surviving trestle bridge.
Several miles of original Route 66 roadway, which remain in daily use.
The Tee Pee Drive-in Theater.
A beautiful water tank mural.
This portion of Route 66 also runs within a block of several related attractions, including the Sapulpa Historical Museum, considered one of the nation's finest community museums; its neighboring Waite Phillips-Barnsdall Filling Station Museum; the Sapulpa Fire Museum; and numerous notable buildings.
"Downtown Sapulpa just has so much to offer," said Reed, founder and principal of Reed Architecture. "It really lives up to the title Historic Downtown Sapulpa."
Birnie expects the city to realize Route 66 Christmas Chute benefits almost immediately from increased tourism and sales tax revenue. But she also foresees many long-lasting results, starting with visibility.
"It's going to be unbelievable," she said. "We are doing some amazing things in Sapulpa. This will help spread the word."
In the process, Lawrence said the Route 66 Christmas Chute will strengthen Sapulpa's roots.
"It makes our community stronger when we do these volunteer projects together," said Berry. "It pulls us together, which is just outstanding."
To learn more about the Route 66 Christmas Chute, check out route66christmaschute.com.