December 2023 – The Holiday Inn Sign

 At one time I wrote that the sign on the old Holiday Inn used to occasionally say “Welcome to Chickasha Jimmy Stewart”. He was the man who played George Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life”. I wrote about Christmas in December of 2018 and it is a good time to remind some by repeating parts of the 2018 column. [From 2018] At Christmas time there are many classic films that show how various villains can’t overcome the happiness of the season. In spite of the Home Alone Bandits, Scut Farkus, Scrooge, and Mr. Potter everything turns out well and there is a “Happy Ending”. The Christmas classic “It’s a Wonderful Life” has the character George Bailey who fights the villain Mr. Potter (that wants to push everyone but his own acolytes to the side and change the name of the town to Pottersville) and the “Home Alone” kid (Kevin) that outsmarts the local villains in a comical way at every turn. In the process of telling the story about George Bailey the writers point out that the ordinary people are the backbone of the Bedford Falls community and make it a good place to work, raise a family, and live out the American dream. The films were many decades apart and sometimes show how times have changed, but in both films the good guys win in the end. [2018 cont’d] It is a great Christmas present to see a more positive environment in downtown Chickasha that adding lights across Chickasha Ave. and a Christmas tree at the end of the street has accomplished. This is helping to restore some of the Christmas Spirit to the downtown Chickasha area – that was slowly creeping towards resembling Pottersville. Officials there will need to work hard and be more attentive to all inputs. [The point was to accept and learn from mistakes and use them as opportunities to improve operations and public support.]
 I wanted to repeat those prior comments, since back in 2017 (or earlier) I was pulling for the restoration of the Christmas lights on main street. It took time, but some (that no longer live there) started it and got it going. I recently showed the Mayor and City Manager in Chickasha photos of the garland style lights and the support poles that used to decorate their main street with a beautiful holiday spirit, and suggested maybe these could be restored with citizen donations. We will have to wait and see; sometimes good things happen. The interesting thing is that Jimmy Stewart (George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life) actually did have connections to Chickasha and had family that lived in the area before they passed. George Bailey might be disappointed with how their main street is trending recently. The Christmas tree is no longer at the East end of street and the “Lascivious Special Award” is there instead. Most of the businesses in that block (except lawyers and a boutique) contain bars and seem to be turning that area into a scene more like Pottersville that George Bailey and Clarence the Angel would be disappointed with (even without the drag queen shows).
 In a strange way Chickasha has created an atmosphere from some of those Christmas films unintentionally. It seems that Scut Farkus and his bullies (“Lascivious Special Award” and lampshade do it anyway people) are alive and well near the main street Pottersville area to scowl and growl at everyone but their own acolytes. The upstanding happier people (like George Bailey) are more comfortable outside of that area helping the ordinary people. If the Holiday Inn Sign was still in their city this year it might read “Clarence the Angel – We need you!”.