Fireproof: Molly and Tyler Thrasher

A young Tulsa couple’s love and creativity are tested after a devastating house fire.



Molly and Tyler Thrasher in their rebuilt home.

Molly and Tyler Thrasher were headed home from a fun evening with friends when they saw the firetrucks in their neighborhood near the University of Tulsa campus. They hoped their friends several doors down were all right.

“I checked their house as we drove by and said, ‘Whew, they’re good,’” recalls Molly of that fateful night in December 2016. “I didn’t even think it could be ours.”

But Tyler had a gut feeling.

“We turned the corner, and I just felt it,” he says. “It was weird — numbing at first. I didn’t know how to process it all.”

The Thrashers arrived home to see that an electrical fire had already devastated their 1934 house.

The young couple — he an artist, she a photographer — had just bought the home that May and married two months after that. A commissioned painting from their honeymoon had only arrived the previous week — and it, like almost everything they owned, was now gone.

Home, in ruins

The front of the Thrashers’ house was relatively intact, but the inside was destroyed from smoke damage. The back half was burned to the frame.

Very little was salvageable from the fire. If it hadn’t melted or turned to ash, it was covered in carcinogenic soot, which fire inspectors and restoration professionals warned them to avoid. A few sentimental items, like his sketchbook and her journals, were saved but had to be stored hereafter in plastic bags and not handled much ever again.

Molly Thrasher, a professional photographer, took the opportunity to photograph her burned-out home as a way to process the event. // Molly Thrasher

Gone were some paintings Tyler had been working on for weeks; a video he had just completed; half of a collection of rare succulents in the greenhouse out back. Travel photos and personal pictures were lost, as were the couple’s computer hard drives — including one wedding project Molly was finishing for a customer, and an art book Tyler had been toiling over for two years.

“(The insurance company) made us do an inventory list of everything we lost,” Molly explains. “Making that list was what made it all so real for us. It took a few months to make: an 80-something-page spreadsheet, every item, all the contents of our house.”

Tragedy through an artist's lens

Partly crediting a dark sense of humor, the couple laughed — and coped.

“No, it wasn’t good; we were just glad we were OK,” Molly says. “Had we lost a person …”

“It would’ve been infinitely worse,” Tyler chimes in.

They also might have benefited from looking at the situation as artists. For Molly, it was a chance to photograph the house she had so little time to call home.

“Shooting has always been cathartic,” she says. “I’ve done a lot of first things with a camera in front of my face. My first airplane ride was actually to shoot it. It wasn’t a commercial flight, so it was scary doing that. I had never been off the ground.”

She had never been through a house fire either, so this was a first she couldn’t pass up.

“That night, once they let us walk through the house, it was morbid, and we were shocked and sad from all the normal things you’d expect,” Molly says. “But it also was fascinating.”

“I was just documenting, mostly because it was so surreal,” she says. “I guess I didn’t want to forget. Also, the house felt so fresh before. This was our first house. So I don’t know if I would even say it was art.”

“The light was super-creepy,” she adds, describing how the soot-covered windows somberly filtered the charred space.

Tyler saw the possibility of a photo-shoot backdrop. “My everyday human side wants to feel this, but the artist in me saw inspiration,” he says. “It was a weird dichotomy. I should feel really awful, but all of a sudden there is so much art to be made from this.

“Not many people get to shoot in a burned-out building. I have a burned-out house, and I have nothing left but this house, so what can I do with this huge burnt pile of rubble? I’ll shoot with it. Use what I have.”

And “resurrect what you can” might be another part of that philosophy, as he wasted no time in getting a new version of that lost art book up and going.

“We had to get back on our feet,” Tyler says. “I’m not one to sulk; I want to keep moving. So the next day, when we were going through all the stuff we lost, I was thinking, ‘Yeah, we lost all our work, but let’s just make more work. That’s easy.’”

Molly Thrasher, a professional photographer, took the opportunity to photograph her burned-out home as a way to process the event. // Molly Thrasher

Tyler's work takes on new meaning

Tyler’s book included pieces he’d created using chemical reactions — specifically, growing crystals on skulls and dead insects. As the project related to the chemistry and science behind his art, Tyler had named his book “The Wisdom of the Furnace,” a nod to alchemists of antiquity who made chemical reactions in furnaces.

“After the fire, it dawned on me that the name took on a completely new meaning,” says Tyler, who eventually reshot what he could — and more — and has since finished the book again. In November, he launched a Kickstarter campaign for the book, which he will self-publish this spring.

Tyler says his attitude throughout the ordeal was, “I’m going to take everything out of this fire.

“If it’s going to take everything I have, I’m going to use it,” he says. “I’m going to take as much inspiration and energy and creativity as I can and make this thing fuel more projects. There will be something I’m going to pull out of this besides loss.”

‘A human safety net’

Minutes after the Thrashers arrived home after the fire, family and friends arrived to help.

Molly’s parents came, and her mom organized the couple’s siblings to find them basic necessities for the next few days. For the foreseeable future, they would move into her parents’ house.

“It was a shock for a long time,” Molly says. “But we had a human safety net of family and friends.”

Some of those friends started a GoFundMe page for the couple. Within 24 hours, the $15,000 goal was met and exceeded with about 400 people donating. Support came locally, as well as from across the country. Tyler alerted his social media network of the devastating event that meant many orders had been lost.

“The support we got so fast really helped,” she says. “We just had so many people offering us places to stay. So many people brought us clothes. People we’ve never met were sending us artwork because they found out we had lost all of ours.”

“We got more than 120 pieces of artwork in the mail,” Tyler says. “It’s weird to walk around the world, go into coffee shops and think there are hundreds of people who just showed up for us like that.”

Rebuilding and rising from the ashes

The Thrashers rebuilt on the same spot. An appraisal of the property allowed insurance to pay them the cost to rebuild. While they didn’t want anything more grand than what they’d had, the couple was able to build a safer home, with some interior upgrades, like tile to replace linoleum floors and granite in place of laminate countertops.

Without hesitation, the couple decided to rebuild and today have a modern and safe dwelling.

“I’m stubborn,” Tyler says. “We were going to stay in this house, rebuild and make it safe.”

“I didn’t even think of moving,” Molly adds. “It wasn’t even presented as an option. It felt perfect for us.”

In early 2017, Sparks Construction took on the job of salvaging what they could of the original home’s exterior, sandblasting away the soot on the stonework. It was a gut job inside, though, with parts of the frame having to be redone. The entire process took almost six months. They moved back into their home in May 2017.

“We wanted the house to be modern in a safe way,” Molly says. “But we wanted to keep some of the character of the house from the ’30s.”

They not only kept some of the original built-ins in the kitchen, like old phone nooks, but asked the contractors to add more. The wood floors, mostly original to the home, were able to be sanded and re-stained. The fireplace bricks were repainted and the mantel was beautifully recreated with minimal flourishes. Arches were added to open doorways, and Tyler requested a little pass-through between the dining room and living room.

The Thrashers met when Tyler was attending Booker T. Washington High School and Molly was homeschooled. They dated through college, became engaged in May 2015 and married in July 2016, five months before they lost their first home to a fire.

Life, renewed

And along the back wall where the fire started, they hung artwork so generously donated by friends and strangers.

“It’s hard to be pessimistic,” Tyler says of the outreach they received. “It’s just downright disrespectful to retain your pessimism after 400 people whom you have never met have your back. I don’t think I can begin to tell how grateful I am. … It made us better people.”

At one point, he reaches over and protectively touches Molly’s stomach.

“It’s a boy,” she says, beaming. He’ll arrive in May — the same month they became engaged, the month they bought their first house, the month they brought that house to life again.

“We’re very excited,” Tyler says, smiling. 

Scroll down for more pictures of the Thrashers' rebuilt home.

Molly and Tyler Thrasher lost their first home in Tulsa, Oklahoma to a devastating fire. Without hesitation, the couple decided to rebuild and today have a modern and safe dwelling.

Molly and Tyler Thrasher lost their first home in Tulsa, Oklahoma to a devastating fire. Without hesitation, the couple decided to rebuild and today have a modern and safe dwelling.

Molly and Tyler Thrasher lost their first home in Tulsa, Oklahoma to a devastating fire. Without hesitation, the couple decided to rebuild and today have a modern and safe dwelling.

Molly and Tyler Thrasher lost their first home in Tulsa, Oklahoma to a devastating fire. Without hesitation, the couple decided to rebuild and today have a modern and safe dwelling.

 

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October 2018

We’re serving up our new chef-inspired fondue and traditional brunch options like Alpine Benedict Cheese Fondue, French Toast Fondue, Avocado Fiesta Toast plus bottomless mimosas. Reserve...

Cost: Varies

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The Melting Pot of Tulsa
300 Riverwalk Terrace #190
Jenks, OK  74037
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Temple Israel would like to invite everyone to SHALOMFEST 2018. ShalomFest will take place at Temple Israel on October 14th from 12:00pm-4:00pm. This is our 25th annual celebration of Jewish...

Cost: Free & open the public

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2004 E 22nd Pl
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Cost: free

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20 South Lewis Avenue
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Telephone: (918) 565-9404
Contact Name: Katie
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Orth Contemporary is pleased to present a solo exhibition of new Silver Deposit paintings by Jimi Gleason on view at the gallery from September 7ththrough October 19th.    ...

Cost: free

Where:
Orth Contemporary
20 South Lewis Avenue
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Telephone: (918) 565-9404
Contact Name: Katie
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Cost: $20

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Sponsor: McKeon Center for Creativity
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Orth Contemporary is pleased to present a solo exhibition of new Silver Deposit paintings by Jimi Gleason on view at the gallery from September 7ththrough October 19th.    ...

Cost: free

Where:
Orth Contemporary
20 South Lewis Avenue
Tulsa, OK  74104
View map »


Telephone: (918) 565-9404
Contact Name: Katie
Website »

More information

Orth Contemporary is pleased to present a solo exhibition of new Silver Deposit paintings by Jimi Gleason on view at the gallery from September 7ththrough October 19th.    ...

Cost: free

Where:
Orth Contemporary
20 South Lewis Avenue
Tulsa, OK  74104
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Telephone: (918) 565-9404
Contact Name: Katie
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Sponsor: Clarehouse
Telephone: 918-893-6150
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Orth Contemporary is pleased to present a solo exhibition of new Silver Deposit paintings by Jimi Gleason on view at the gallery from September 7ththrough October 19th.    ...

Cost: free

Where:
Orth Contemporary
20 South Lewis Avenue
Tulsa, OK  74104
View map »


Telephone: (918) 565-9404
Contact Name: Katie
Website »

More information

Orth Contemporary is pleased to present a solo exhibition of new Silver Deposit paintings by Jimi Gleason on view at the gallery from September 7ththrough October 19th.    ...

Cost: free

Where:
Orth Contemporary
20 South Lewis Avenue
Tulsa, OK  74104
View map »


Telephone: (918) 565-9404
Contact Name: Katie
Website »

More information

Show More...
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Orth Contemporary is pleased to present a solo exhibition of new Silver Deposit paintings by Jimi Gleason on view at the gallery from September 7ththrough October 19th.    ...

Cost: free

Where:
Orth Contemporary
20 South Lewis Avenue
Tulsa, OK  74104
View map »


Telephone: (918) 565-9404
Contact Name: Katie
Website »

More information

Orth Contemporary is pleased to present a solo exhibition of new Silver Deposit paintings by Jimi Gleason on view at the gallery from September 7ththrough October 19th.    ...

Cost: free

Where:
Orth Contemporary
20 South Lewis Avenue
Tulsa, OK  74104
View map »


Telephone: (918) 565-9404
Contact Name: Katie
Website »

More information

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Cost: $29.95 per adult | $19.95 per child

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300 Riverwalk Terrace #190
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Sponsor: The Melting Pot of Tulsa
Telephone: 918-299-8000
Contact Name: Alex Cooper
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Orth Contemporary is pleased to present a solo exhibition of new Silver Deposit paintings by Jimi Gleason on view at the gallery from September 7ththrough October 19th.    ...

Cost: free

Where:
Orth Contemporary
20 South Lewis Avenue
Tulsa, OK  74104
View map »


Telephone: (918) 565-9404
Contact Name: Katie
Website »

More information

Orth Contemporary is pleased to present a solo exhibition of new Silver Deposit paintings by Jimi Gleason on view at the gallery from September 7ththrough October 19th.    ...

Cost: free

Where:
Orth Contemporary
20 South Lewis Avenue
Tulsa, OK  74104
View map »


Telephone: (918) 565-9404
Contact Name: Katie
Website »

More information

Willkommen to four days of Oompah (or Bavaria or Oktoberfest) in Oklahoma with nationally-known German bands, authentic European foods, arts and crafters MarktHaus, full carnival and fun...

Cost: $10

Where:
River West Festival Park
2100 S. Jackson Ave.
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Telephone: 918-596-2007
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Cost: Free

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Sponsor: SAPAF with GKFF
Telephone: 918 665 6419
Contact Name: Mohan Kelkar
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Cost: $10 and $15

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Sponsor: OkEq
Telephone: 918-637-2866
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Cost: 10.00

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3102 E 4th Place
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Cost: Free

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Expo Square
4145 East 21st Street
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Tulsa, OK  74114
View map »


Sponsor: Arabian Horse Association
Telephone: 303-696-4500
Contact Name: Kelsey Bergland
Website »

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Cost: $29.95 per adult | $19.95 per child

Where:
The Melting Pot of Tulsa
300 Riverwalk Terrace #190
Jenks, OK  74037
View map »


Sponsor: The Melting Pot of Tulsa
Telephone: 918-299-8000
Contact Name: Alex Cooper
Website »

More information

Orth Contemporary is pleased to present a solo exhibition of new Silver Deposit paintings by Jimi Gleason on view at the gallery from September 7ththrough October 19th.    ...

Cost: free

Where:
Orth Contemporary
20 South Lewis Avenue
Tulsa, OK  74104
View map »


Telephone: (918) 565-9404
Contact Name: Katie
Website »

More information

Orth Contemporary is pleased to present a solo exhibition of new Silver Deposit paintings by Jimi Gleason on view at the gallery from September 7ththrough October 19th.    ...

Cost: free

Where:
Orth Contemporary
20 South Lewis Avenue
Tulsa, OK  74104
View map »


Telephone: (918) 565-9404
Contact Name: Katie
Website »

More information

Willkommen to four days of Oompah (or Bavaria or Oktoberfest) in Oklahoma with nationally-known German bands, authentic European foods, arts and crafters MarktHaus, full carnival and fun...

Cost: $10

Where:
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View map »


Sponsor: Linde
Telephone: 918-596-2007
Contact Name: Tonja Carrigg
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
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2435 S. Peoria Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74114
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Sponsor: Nimrod Journal
Telephone: 918-631-3080
Contact Name: Eilis O'Neal
Website »

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Cost: Free

Where:
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2435 S. Peoria Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74114
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Sponsor: Nimrod Journal
Telephone: 918-704-7006
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Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
The Tulsa Garden Center
2435 S. Peoria Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74114
View map »


Sponsor: Nimrod Journal
Telephone: 918-631-3080
Contact Name: Eilis O'Neal
Website »

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Cost: $20

Where:
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Sponsor: 75 Productions
Telephone: 918-947-9544
Website »

More information

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Cost: $28.00 General, $40.00 Deluxe

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Telephone: 855-484-1991
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Cost: 0.00

Where:
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Tulsa, OK  74114
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Sponsor: Gathering Place

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Cost: 0

Where:
Guthrie Green
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Sponsor: SAPAF with GKFF
Telephone: 918 665 6419
Contact Name: Mohan Kelkar
Website »

More information

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Cost: 10.00

Where:
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Tulsa, OK  74104
View map »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

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Cost: Free

Where:
Expo Square
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Tulsa
Tulsa, OK  74114
View map »


Sponsor: Arabian Horse Association
Telephone: 303-696-4500
Contact Name: Kelsey Bergland
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free, but must register at afsp.org/tulsa

Where:
Kendall-Whittier Park
2601-2633 S Columbia Ave
Tulsa, OK  74104
View map »


Sponsor: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
Telephone: 539-777-0122
Contact Name: Robin Hudson LeBlanc
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Nimrod International Journal of Prose and Poetry will host its annual Conference for Readers and Writers at The University of Tulsa on October 20th, 2018. The Conference will begin at...

Cost: $60; scholarships available

Where:
TU's Allen Chapman Student Union
400 S. Gary Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74104
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Sponsor: Nimrod Journal
Telephone: 918-631-3080
Contact Name: Cassidy McCants
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Nimrod Journal will host its annual Conference for Readers and Writers on Saturday, October 20th, at The University of Tulsa. The conference will feature workshops on fiction, poetry, memoir,...

Cost: $10-$70

Where:
University of Tulsa Allen Chapman Student Union
404 S. Gary Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74104
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Sponsor: Nimrod Journal
Telephone: 918-631-3080
Contact Name: Eilis O'Neal
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We’re serving up our new chef-inspired fondue and traditional brunch options like Alpine Benedict Cheese Fondue, French Toast Fondue, Avocado Fiesta Toast plus bottomless mimosas. Reserve...

Cost: Varies

Where:
The Melting Pot of Tulsa
300 Riverwalk Terrace #190
Jenks, OK  74037
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Sponsor: The Melting Pot of Tulsa
Telephone: 918-299-8000
Contact Name: Alex Cooper
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Are you staying in town for Fall Break? The Melting Pot is offering an extended weekend-long family special with kid-friendly fondue for the whole family.

Cost: $29.95 per adult | $19.95 per child

Where:
The Melting Pot of Tulsa
300 Riverwalk Terrace #190
Jenks, OK  74037
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Sponsor: The Melting Pot of Tulsa
Telephone: 918-299-8000
Contact Name: Alex Cooper
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Willkommen to four days of Oompah (or Bavaria or Oktoberfest) in Oklahoma with nationally-known German bands, authentic European foods, arts and crafters MarktHaus, full carnival and fun...

Cost: $10

Where:
River West Festival Park
2100 S. Jackson Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74107
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Sponsor: Linde
Telephone: 918-596-2007
Contact Name: Tonja Carrigg
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October 20th from 7 to 9 p.m. Oklahoma Performing Arts will host "A Night with Tolleck Winner" to benefit the OPA. The event, in coordination with the Atamian Gallery, will be the first...

Cost: Free

Where:
Oklahoma Performing Arts
718 South Elm Place
Broken Arrow, OK  74011-74014
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Sponsor: Oklahoma Performing Arts & Atamian Gallery
Telephone: 310-254-7149
Contact Name: Jack Price
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America’s LARGEST interactive comedy murder mystery dinner show is now playing at the Hilton Garden Inn Tulsa Broken Arrow! At The Dinner Detective, you’ll tackle a challenging crime while you...

Cost: 59.95

Where:
Hilton Garden Inn Tulsa- Broken Arrow
420 W Albany St.
Broken Arrow, OK  74012
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Telephone: 866-496-0535
Contact Name: The Dinner Detective
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Please join us for our annual event to celebrate and support the Little Blue House. We will have catering by Keo, a cash bar complete with signature cocktail, silent auction, and a dessert dash!...

Cost: $40-1000

Where:
East Side Christian Church
1438 S. Indianapolis Ave
Tulsa, OK  74112
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Sponsor: Little Blue House
Telephone: 918-978-9721
Contact Name: Linda Davis
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The Oklahoma Swing Syndicate (TOSS) hosts a Swing dance and lessons  The Oklahoma Swing Syndicate (TOSS) is the only UNESCO recognized dance organization in Oklahoma.  We are a 501c3...

Cost: $7

Where:
Community Center - South Minister Presby Church
3500 So Peoria
1/2 west of Peoria, on 35pl behind the church
Tulsa, OK  74102
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Sponsor: The Ok Swing Syndicate
Telephone: 918-450-691
Contact Name: Rita Robbins
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October 20th from 7 to 9 p.m. Oklahoma Performing Arts will host "A Night with Tolleck Winner" to benefit the OPA. The event, in coordination with the Atamian Gallery, will be the first...

Cost: Free

Where:
Oklahoma Performing Arts
718 South Elm Place
Broken Arrow, OK  74011-74014
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma Performing Arts & Atamian Gallery
Telephone: 310-254-7149
Contact Name: Jack Price
Website »

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The Fear Factory is Tulsa's newest haunted attraction.

Cost: $20

Where:
Tulsa, OK  74115


Sponsor: 75 Productions
Telephone: 918-947-9544
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The Mummy & Me dance is a Halloween dance for just the kids and mom. SORRY, NO DADS ALLOWED. We encourage everyone to come in a costume but not required. There will be a costume contest, scary...

Cost: $5.00 Per Person

Where:
Nienhuis Park Community Center
3201 North 9th Street
Broken Arrow, OK  74012
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Telephone: 918-259-6550
Contact Name: Nienhuis Park Community Center

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Are you thirsting for some fun in October? If you're feeling drained, bring your boyfriend/ghoulfriend and join the other children of the night for a show that's so funny, it's spooky. 8:00 p.m.,...

Cost: $8.00 ($4.00 for children under 12)

Where:
pH Community House
306 South Phoenix Ave
Tulsa, OK  74127
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Sponsor: Laughing Matter Improv
Contact Name: Jerry Henderson
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TU Theatre presents Man of La Mancha on October 18-20 and October 25-27 at 8pm. October 21 at 2pm,

Cost: 10.00

Where:
Kendall Hall
3102 E 4th Place
Tulsa, OK  74104
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