Heavenly opportunity

The Gatesway Balloon Festival prepares to light up the sky in support of the Gatesway Foundation and the special individuals it serves.



 

J.T. Jones is a “customer maniac,” according to his employee name tag.

Always armed with sunny quips for customers, he sees putting smiles on others’ faces as one of his job responsibilities. “I don’t work today,” Jones corrects gently with his wide smile. “I live today.”

Pretty soon, he’ll be headed to his job at Taco Bell, where he works Mondays through Fridays. Jones has been employed there for about a decade — first in Okmulgee, now in Broken Arrow. It’s just a short drive from where he lives on campus at the Gatesway Foundation, a nonprofit agency that provides opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities to lead normal, happy lives.

“It’s an angelic, heavenly headquarters for God’s innocent children,” explains Jones, who resides with a few roommates in one of Gatesway’s group homes.

“It’s like a guardian angel,” he adds, pointing his right index finger toward the ceiling. “A heavenly opportunity.”

To help Jones, his roommates and the organization’s hundreds of other clients continue to live as independently as possible, the Gatesway Foundation will host its 21st annual Gatesway Balloon Festival Sept. 15-17 at Broken Arrow Events Park, located at the intersection of East 101st Street and the Creek Turnpike, just east of Northeastern State University-Broken Arrow.

Aside from the several-stories-tall balloons to gawk at or ride in, the event will feature balloon competitions, a sanctioned 5K and fun run, live music, arts and crafts vendors, and food.

Fittingly, the idea for the festival was dreamed up in the air — midflight, specifically.

“As Gatesway approached its 30th anniversary in 1994, I was asked to develop an event to celebrate the milestone,” says Louise Short, a longtime Gatesway advocate and former board member, who was on a flight in 1993 from Chicago when she just happened to sit next to the development director for the American Diabetes
Association in Dallas. The director shared with Short some fundraising events that were successful for her organization, and mentioned her hobby as a hot-air balloon chaser.

“I came back and shared the idea with Nina Honeyman, the executive director at that time,” Short says, “and the rest is history.”

First held in August 1994, the balloon festival’s success apparently stunned organizers.

“They didn’t think many would show up, but the staff and volunteers were surprised when more than 100,000 people attended the event,” says Anita Pousson-Williams, chairwoman of this year’s festivities. “Now, it’s grown into one of northeast Oklahoma’s most anticipated events.”

The sky over Broken Arrow Events Park  will glow on Friday and Saturday evenings with about 30 big, beautiful hot air balloons from across the country — including three special ones Pousson-Williams is excited about: “A huge pig, a larger-than-life owl and a delightful cat chasing a mouse.”

An event this size demands quite a bit of support — approximately 250 volunteers, Pousson-Williams estimates.

“Clients can always be found at the balloon festival,” she says. “Some choose to volunteer, and others look forward to coming out to enjoy the activities and fabulous balloons. Also, we usually have a group of our transition students — high school juniors and seniors — who crew the balloons, an activity they always enjoy.”

The Gatesway Balloon Festival is near and dear to Anita Pousson-Williams and Louise Short. Pousson-Williams serves as chairwoman for the 2017 event, which returns to Broken Arrow after several years in Claremore. Short is a longtime Gatesway advocate who helped organize the first balloon festival in 1994.

Usually, when folks hear Gatesway mentioned, the usual response Pousson-Williams hears is, “Oh! You guys put on the balloon festival!” she says. “While this is true, our mission for the past 54 years has been to provide living and work opportunities to individuals with intellectual disabilities. With the expected crowds this year, our goal is to further educate the community about our mission.”

It’s a mission dear to Pousson-Williams’ heart.

Her sister, Angela, has Down syndrome, and lives in a facility like Gatesway in Texas.

“Our family has been blessed that she has had excellent opportunities to travel, work and be surrounded by so many people she loves,” says Pousson-Williams, adding that Angela lives a happy, productive life. “But not all parents of special individuals have that peace of mind.”

Locally, such parents have the Gatesway Foundation.

“It offers so many people the opportunity to learn, work, live up to their potential as productive citizens — much like the life my little sister has been able to live,” Pousson-Williams says. “Helen Gates created a beautiful organization to meet the needs of thousands of special people who may not have access to resources they need to flourish. I would love to see the Gatesway Balloon Festival continue to secure and enable our organization to serve thousands more.”

Thousands more like Jones, a shining, perpetually smiling example of the success stories brimming at Gatesway.

“He’s a workaholic,” says Traci Williams, Jones’ program coordinator at Gatesway. “He works all the time. He’s faithful.”

“That’s how you’re supposed to be,” he quickly chimes in, high-fiving Williams.

J.T. Jones works at a Broken Arrow Taco Bell and lives at the Gatesway campus, where he strives to set a good example for his roommates. The nonprofit is putting on its 21st annual Gatesway Balloon Festival this month at Broken Arrow Events Park.

Smart and talented, Jones also is an advocate for individuals like himself, as well as his fellow clients, who all deserve to be treated just as anyone and everyone else wants to be. “We’re all part of the human race,” he says. “That’s what we all are: human.”

He has dreamed of being a counselor, strives to set a good example, makes and spends his own money and takes care of his health — and his skin, he is proud to point out.

Jones is an athlete, too, having competed in multiple sports at Special Olympics Oklahoma. He has more medals than he can count.

“Even though I don’t get to be my own guardian, I do get to make my own decisions,” he says, referring to different domestic responsibilities, like cooking — at which he’s awesome, by the sounds of ingredients he rattles off for an omelet.

Don’t be surprised if you run into Jones at this month’s balloon festival.

He’ll be the bespectacled, clear-skinned, slender young man with the brightest smile — one you might see on TV someday, if his script for a Taco Bell commercial goes as his planned. He has some cool one-liners and slogans worked up already. One example: “Let’s give our customers something to taco ’bout.”

Every plan, every minute of his day, is about being the best he can be and living the best life possible — something inherent to Gatesway’s efforts in the community.

“It’s really fun being this person,” Jones says. 

 

Sept. 15-17

Gatesway Balloon Festival

Free admission; $5, parking. Some activities additional cost. Balloon rides: $20, adults; $15, kids under 12. Benefits Gatesway. Balloons inflate at dawn and dusk. Broken Arrow Events Park, 21101 E. 101st St., Broken Arrow. gateswayballoonfestival.org

 

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

Heavenly opportunity

The Gatesway Balloon Festival prepares to light up the sky in support of the Gatesway Foundation and the special individuals it serves.

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October 2019

The annual US National Arabian & Half Arabian Horse Show returns to Tulsa. You will be able to see over 1700 Arabian and Half Arabian horses competing in many divisions, including Breeding/In Hand...

Cost: 0.00

Where:
Tulsa State Fairgrounds
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Tulsa, OK  74114
View map »


Sponsor: Arabian Horse Association
Telephone: 303-6964500
Contact Name: Kelsey Berglund
Website »

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Contact Name: Kelsey Berglund
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Cost: Free

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Central Library
400 Civic Center
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Sponsor: RSVP and OSU Extension
Telephone: 918-549-7429
Contact Name: Nick Abrahamson

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Cost: free & open to the public

Where:
McKeon Center for Creativity
910 S. Boston Ave.
TCC Metro Campus
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Sponsor: Tulsa Community College
Telephone: 918-595-7339
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Hello, Friends!   Fall is in the air! We are excited to present the 5th Annual Hugo Pumpkin Festival, a fun-filled event featuring a variety of entertaining activities for the whole family....

Cost: $ 6 - $ 20

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Contact Name: Emily
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Go into the woods and experience the return of this fantastic family production with performances in both Tulsa and Broken Arrow. Tulsa Ballet's Hardesty Family Foundation Children's...

Cost: $15

Where:
Studio K (Tulsa) and Zarrow Studio (Broken Arrow(
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Sponsor: Tulsa Ballet
Telephone: 918-749-6006
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Abersons presents Pink Ribbon -- an exclusive, high-fashion fundraiser featuring a runway show by one of the world's hottest designers. Cocktails 6 p.m. | Dinner & Live Auction 7...

Cost: $1,250

Where:
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Sponsor: Abersons
Telephone: 918-834-7200
Contact Name: Scarlet Henley
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Cost: 109

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The annual US National Arabian & Half Arabian Horse Show returns to Tulsa. You will be able to see over 1700 Arabian and Half Arabian horses competing in many divisions, including Breeding/In Hand...

Cost: 0.00

Where:
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View map »


Sponsor: Arabian Horse Association
Telephone: 303-6964500
Contact Name: Kelsey Berglund
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Hello, Friends!   Fall is in the air! We are excited to present the 5th Annual Hugo Pumpkin Festival, a fun-filled event featuring a variety of entertaining activities for the whole family....

Cost: $ 6 - $ 20

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Sponsor: Endangered Ark Foundation
Telephone: 580-317-8470
Contact Name: Emily
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Cost: $40 per person

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717 S. Houston Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74129
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Sponsor: Pause4Paws, Inc.
Telephone: 918-829-9811
Contact Name: Cindy Webb
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Cost: $15

Where:
Studio K (Tulsa) and Zarrow Studio (Broken Arrow(
1212 E 45th Place
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Sponsor: Tulsa Ballet
Telephone: 918-749-6006
Contact Name: Dan
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Abersons presents Pink Ribbon -- an exclusive, high-fashion fundraiser featuring a runway show by one of the world's hottest designers. Cocktails 6 p.m. | Dinner & Live Auction 7...

Cost: $1,250

Where:
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Tulsa, OK  74136
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Sponsor: Abersons
Telephone: 918-834-7200
Contact Name: Scarlet Henley
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Telephone: 918-813-6514
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The University of Tulsa Darcy O’Brien Presidential Lecture Series presents New York Times bestselling author David Grann October 22 at 7:30 p.m. in the TU Reynolds Center. Grann is an...

Cost: Free

Where:
TU Reynolds Center
3208 East 8th Street
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Contact Name: Kelsey Berglund
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Telephone: 580-317-8470
Contact Name: Emily
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Cost: 0

Where:
Asbury United Methodist Church
6767 S Mingo Rd
Tulsa, OK  74133
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Sponsor: Asbury United Methodist Church
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Asbury United Methodist Church
6767 S Mingo Rd
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Contact Name: Ruth Winn
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Cost: $1,250

Where:
Southern Hills Country Club
2636 E. 61st St.
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Telephone: 918-834-7200
Contact Name: Scarlet Henley
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Cost: $15

Where:
Studio K (Tulsa) and Zarrow Studio (Broken Arrow(
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Sponsor: Tulsa Ballet
Telephone: 918-749-6006
Contact Name: Dan
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Cost: $15

Where:
Asbury United Methodist Church
6767 S Mingo Rd
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Sponsor: Asbury LifeCare Ministry
Telephone: 918-392-1146
Contact Name: Ruth Winn
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Cost: 109

Where:
THE DANCE PLACE
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Telephone: 918-813-6514
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Cost: FREE

Where:
Magic City Books
221 E. Archer St.
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Cost: 0.00

Where:
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Sponsor: Arabian Horse Association
Telephone: 303-6964500
Contact Name: Kelsey Berglund
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Cost: $8 for ages 13+, $4 for ages 3 to 12. Children 2 yrs and under are free

Where:
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive
Tulsa, OK  74127
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Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden
Telephone: 918-289-0330
Contact Name: Tulsa Botanic Garden
Website »

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Cost: $ 6 - $ 20

Where:
Endangered Ark Foundation
2657 E 2070 Rd
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View map »


Sponsor: Endangered Ark Foundation
Telephone: 580-317-8470
Contact Name: Emily
Website »

More information

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Cost: $30-$500

Where:
TaulCoy Room
1350 S Boulder Ave
Tulsa, OK  74119
View map »


Sponsor: United Nations Association of Eastern Oklahoma
Telephone: 918-430-6119
Contact Name: Dr. Ruby Libertus
Website »

More information

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Cost: $300 (individual tickets)

Where:
Hyatt Regency Tulsa
100 E 2nd St
Tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma Center for Community and Justice
Telephone: 918-583-1361
Contact Name: Eileen Schaumleffle
Website »

More information

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Cost: $15

Where:
Studio K (Tulsa) and Zarrow Studio (Broken Arrow(
1212 E 45th Place
Tulsa, OK  74105
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Ballet
Telephone: 918-749-6006
Contact Name: Dan
Website »

More information

Abersons presents Pink Ribbon -- an exclusive, high-fashion fundraiser featuring a runway show by one of the world's hottest designers. Cocktails 6 p.m. | Dinner & Live Auction 7...

Cost: $1,250

Where:
Southern Hills Country Club
2636 E. 61st St.
Tulsa, OK  74136
View map »


Sponsor: Abersons
Telephone: 918-834-7200
Contact Name: Scarlet Henley
Website »

More information

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Cost: $150 per person; $125 for Garden members

Where:
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3900 Tulsa Botanic Dr.
Tulsa, OK  74127
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden
Telephone: 918-289-0330
Contact Name: Lori Hutson
Website »

More information

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Cost: 109

Where:
THE DANCE PLACE
3310 WEST 42ND PLACE
TULSA, OK  74107
View map »


Telephone: 918-813-6514
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The annual US National Arabian & Half Arabian Horse Show returns to Tulsa. You will be able to see over 1700 Arabian and Half Arabian horses competing in many divisions, including Breeding/In Hand...

Cost: 0.00

Where:
Tulsa State Fairgrounds
4145 E 21st St,
Tulsa, OK  74114
View map »


Sponsor: Arabian Horse Association
Telephone: 303-6964500
Contact Name: Kelsey Berglund
Website »

More information

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Cost: $ 6 - $ 20

Where:
Endangered Ark Foundation
2657 E 2070 Rd
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View map »


Sponsor: Endangered Ark Foundation
Telephone: 580-317-8470
Contact Name: Emily
Website »

More information

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Cost: $60

Where:
Tulsa, OK


Sponsor: Family & Children's Services
Telephone: 918-560-1115
Website »

More information

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Cost: $75.00

Where:
Christiansen Jet Center
200 Lear Jet Lane, Jones Riverside Airport
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View map »


Sponsor: Crime Prevention Network
Telephone: 918-585-5209
Contact Name: Karen Gilbert
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More information

Abersons presents Pink Ribbon -- an exclusive, high-fashion fundraiser featuring a runway show by one of the world's hottest designers. Cocktails 6 p.m. | Dinner & Live Auction 7...

Cost: $1,250

Where:
Southern Hills Country Club
2636 E. 61st St.
Tulsa, OK  74136
View map »


Sponsor: Abersons
Telephone: 918-834-7200
Contact Name: Scarlet Henley
Website »

More information

Go into the woods and experience the return of this fantastic family production with performances in both Tulsa and Broken Arrow. Tulsa Ballet's Hardesty Family Foundation Children's...

Cost: $15

Where:
Studio K (Tulsa) and Zarrow Studio (Broken Arrow(
1212 E 45th Place
Tulsa, OK  74105
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Ballet
Telephone: 918-749-6006
Contact Name: Dan
Website »

More information

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Cost: 25.00

Where:
Tulsa Dance Company
8207 S. Harvard Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74137
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Dance Company
Telephone: 918-779-7360
Contact Name: Tulsa Dance Company
Website »

More information

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Cost: Varies

Where:
Oklahoma Aquarium
300 Aquarium Drive
Jenks, OK  74107
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma Aquarium
Telephone: 918-528-1507
Contact Name: Liz Medrano
Website »

More information

Originally from West Africa, Kizomba is a partner dance that is a sexy addition to any Latin dance party. It is the fastest Latin growing dance in the U.S. Come and learn the basics plus a few more...

Cost: 109

Where:
THE DANCE PLACE
3310 WEST 42ND PLACE
TULSA, OK  74107
View map »


Telephone: 918-813-6514
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
Gathering Place
2650 S. John Williams Way E.
Tulsa, OK  74114
View map »


Website »

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Seymour, a nerdy worker at a run-down florist is romantically pining for a seemingly unattainable beauty named Audrey, when he discovers an unusual plant that only thrives when it is fed human...

Cost: $15-$25

Where:
Tulsa Performing Arts Center
110 East Second Street
Tulsa, OK  74103
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Sponsor: Tulsa Project Theatre
Telephone: 918-596-7122
Contact Name: Amber Whitlatch
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The annual US National Arabian & Half Arabian Horse Show returns to Tulsa. You will be able to see over 1700 Arabian and Half Arabian horses competing in many divisions, including Breeding/In Hand...

Cost: 0.00

Where:
Tulsa State Fairgrounds
4145 E 21st St,
Tulsa, OK  74114
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Sponsor: Arabian Horse Association
Telephone: 303-6964500
Contact Name: Kelsey Berglund
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The Tulsa Walk to Defeat ALS is the signature fundraising event for The ALS Association Oklahoma. The Walk to Defeat ALS is the #1 way to unite and fundraise for those living with ALS. Each...

Cost: Free

Where:
Guthrie Green
111 East M.B. Brady Street
Tulsa, OK  74103
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Telephone: 202-464-8617

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Together OSU Medicine and OSU Medical Center have built a fully comprehensive health care team to serve families in Tulsa and the surrounding areas. One of those levels of expertise is...

Cost: Free

Where:
OSU Medical Center North Lobby
744 W. Ninth St.
Tulsa, OK
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Sponsor: OSU Medicine

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 Harvest Hayday!  October 26, from 11am - 2pm.  Come celebrate the arrival of fall!  With hayrides, games, trunk or treating, emergency vehicles, a petting zoo, and more, ...

Cost: Free, except food items for purchase from Food Trucks

Where:
Asbury UMC
6767 S. Mingo Rd
Tulsa, OK  74133
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Sponsor: Asbury UMC
Telephone: 918-392-1165
Contact Name: Kim Broadhurst
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Hello, Friends!   Fall is in the air! We are excited to present the 5th Annual Hugo Pumpkin Festival, a fun-filled event featuring a variety of entertaining activities for the whole family....

Cost: $ 6 - $ 20

Where:
Endangered Ark Foundation
2657 E 2070 Rd
Hugo, OK  74743
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Sponsor: Endangered Ark Foundation
Telephone: 580-317-8470
Contact Name: Emily
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Outdoor All Day Family Friendly Halloween Event 

Cost: $0-$10.00

Where:
Downtown Wagoner
Main Street
Wagoner
Wagoner, OK  74467
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Sponsor: Wagoner Main Street
Telephone: 918-577-1772
Contact Name: Samantha Call
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Buy a Care Card and save up to 20% at more than 200 local stores and restaurants October 25 – November 3, 2018. With Care Card, you’re saving more than money – you’re saving lives....

Cost: $60

Where:
Tulsa, OK


Sponsor: Family & Children's Services
Telephone: 918-560-1115
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Abersons presents Pink Ribbon -- an exclusive, high-fashion fundraiser featuring a runway show by one of the world's hottest designers. Cocktails 6 p.m. | Dinner & Live Auction 7...

Cost: $1,250

Where:
Southern Hills Country Club
2636 E. 61st St.
Tulsa, OK  74136
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Sponsor: Abersons
Telephone: 918-834-7200
Contact Name: Scarlet Henley
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Go into the woods and experience the return of this fantastic family production with performances in both Tulsa and Broken Arrow. Tulsa Ballet's Hardesty Family Foundation Children's...

Cost: $15

Where:
Studio K (Tulsa) and Zarrow Studio (Broken Arrow(
1212 E 45th Place
Tulsa, OK  74105
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Sponsor: Tulsa Ballet
Telephone: 918-749-6006
Contact Name: Dan
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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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Mummies of all ages! Bring your goblins, witches, and super heroes to our fun and food filled Halloween Dance! Saturday, October 26th, 2019 6-9 pm $5 per person (check or cash)  

Cost: $5 per person

Where:
Bixby Community Center
211 N Cabaniss Ave
Bixby , OK  74008
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Sponsor: Bixby Community Center
Telephone: 918-366-4841
Contact Name: Victoria Smith

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For the first time, the Oklahoma Aquarium will host seven nights of indoor trick-or-treating for kids of all ages from Friday, October 25 to Thursday, October 31! Guests can follow the...

Cost: Varies

Where:
Oklahoma Aquarium
300 Aquarium Drive
Jenks, OK  74107
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Sponsor: Oklahoma Aquarium
Telephone: 918-528-1507
Contact Name: Liz Medrano
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Originally from West Africa, Kizomba is a partner dance that is a sexy addition to any Latin dance party. It is the fastest Latin growing dance in the U.S. Come and learn the basics plus a few more...

Cost: 109

Where:
THE DANCE PLACE
3310 WEST 42ND PLACE
TULSA, OK  74107
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Telephone: 918-813-6514
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Tulsa Metro Sound Chorus presents: "As Seen on TMS". A comedic review which will keep you in stitches, including music of Iconic Women of Song . Come enjoy the music of Karen Carpenter,...

Cost: 15.00

Where:
Memorial High School
5840 S Hudson Ave,
Tulsa, OK  74135
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Sponsor: Tulsa Metro Sound
Telephone: 918-352-6091
Contact Name: Marlys Fallen
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Choral Music from North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Down Under

Cost: $20

Where:
Cascia Hall
2520 S Yorktown Ave
Tulsa, OK  74114
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Sponsor: Tulsa Chorale
Telephone: 918-625-1527
Contact Name: Anastasia Howard
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Are you looking for a night of Halloween hilarity, ghoulish guffaws, and spooky silliness? Then come and see the spirited stylings of Laughing Matter… Oklahoma’s longest-running...

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

Where:
pH Community House
306 S Phoenix Ave
Tulsa, OK  74127
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Sponsor: Laughing Matter Improv
Contact Name: Jerry Henderson
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Luchadores go head to head in the ring to see who really is The Great Pumpkin!

Cost: Free

Where:
Elote Cafe & Catering
514 S Boston Ave
Tulsa, OK  74103
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Sponsor: Elote Cafe & Catering
Telephone: 918-582-1403
Contact Name: Elote Cafe & Catering
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Seymour, a nerdy worker at a run-down florist is romantically pining for a seemingly unattainable beauty named Audrey, when he discovers an unusual plant that only thrives when it is fed human...

Cost: $15-$25

Where:
Tulsa Performing Arts Center
110 East Second Street
Tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Project Theatre
Telephone: 918-596-7122
Contact Name: Amber Whitlatch
Website »

More information

No tricks, just treats! Gathering Place is casting a spell for all not-so-scary ghosts and ghouls to make their way to the park for sweets and treats. Meet us on Spooky Street for a kid-friendly,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gathering Place
2650 S. John Williams Way E.
Tulsa, OK  74114
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What's New


Oklahoma's Best-Sellers: Oct. 20

Based on total number of book sales at Magic City Books, Best of Books in Edmond, Brace Books and More in Ponca City, and Full Circle Bookstore in Oklahoma City.

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3.06: Representing District 73 - Regina Goodwin

A conversation with the state representative about issues in her district, plus what it's like being a Democrat in the state legislature. Plus Tulsa Architect Foundation's Amanda DeCort on the Blue Dome District and new music from Count Tutu.

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Oklahoma's Best-Sellers: Oct. 13

Based on total number of book sales at Magic City Books, Best of Books in Edmond, Brace Books and More in Ponca City, and Full Circle Bookstore in Oklahoma City.

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CLIFFDIVER on mental health, Tulsa and their new music

A Q&A with the Tulsa band that describes its sound as "Elevator Emo Pop"

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Oklahoma Best-Sellers: Oct. 6

Based on total number of book sales at Magic City Books, Best of Books in Edmond, Brace Books and More in Ponca City, and Full Circle Bookstore in Oklahoma City.

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