GREEN GROWS THE LILAC DISTRICT: Downtown Claremore designated the Lilac District

BY CHELSEA WEEKS Claremore Daily Progress News Editor (September 11th, 2021)

Lilac roots are deep within Claremore history and are making their way to the center of attention throughout downtown.

Claremore City Councilors approved designating downtown Claremore as the Lilac District.

“When you come to the Lilac District, you’ll know you’re in the Lilac District,” said Jacob Garrison, Claremore Main Street Executive Director. “We want it to create that unique feel when you come to town.”

Every sign throughout downtown Claremore will be replaced with a sign that includes the Lilac District branding.

Garrison said this districting has been in the works for several years and when it came to the name of Lilac it was a great name that had relevance to Claremore’s history.

“It allows us to tell our story,” Garrison said. “When people inevitably ask ‘where did the lilac come from? How did you settle on that name?’ I think the story in itself – for many people who might not know about Lynn Riggs and “Green Grow the Lilacs” – it allows us to tell a story our town is very proud of.”

According to the Claremore Museum of History, Lynn Riggs was a Claremore native who wrote the play “Green Grows the Lilacs.” The play would be adapted into the famous Broadway play “Oklahoma!”

“Hopefully that gives Main Street the opportunity to show his family one step forward of how proud we are,” Garrison said.

As a way to connect the community with Claremore history and with the new districting, Main Street is kicking off the revival of an old tradition: the Lilac Festival.

“Lynn Riggs was an important figure in American history, and Claremore is honored to recognize his contributions as a poet, author and playwright,” Claremore City Manager John Feary said. “As part of continued revitalization of our downtown, we look forward to bringing back long-standing traditions like the Lilac Festival.”

Garrison said the Lilac Festival will take place in the summer of 2022.

“We’ve had great excitement with people in our committees who’ve been working on it with us,” he said.

According to articles published in the Claremore Daily Progress, the Lilac Festival began around 2008 and ended around 2014.

Bob Waters, Claremore Main Street Treasurer, said he used to be the chairman of a group called Care More for Claremore and would sell lilacs at the Lilac Festival.

Care More for Claremore was a voluntary citizens group focused on improving the public image of the city’s residential and commercial buildings, according to the Claremore Daily Progress. Care More for Claremore would sell lilac bushes to promote community beautification.

“I’m really excited to see it get it’s designation like that,”Waters said. “Just to have the designation because of ‘Green Grow the Lilacs.’ I think it’s something we can hang our hats on and feel special about.”

Waters said he feels great about the Lilac District.

Garrison said it’s within the strategic plan to create unique districting aspects in various parts of Claremore.

“The important thing for us and Main Street is this is work that the city of Claremore and the residents have decided they want,” he said. “This was one of the many things our town has decided upon.”

Garrison said getting that final stamp of approval from the councilors “allows us to start the work.”

Garrison said the districting allows entities and businesses to take the lilac and make it their own.

“To me it creates more of a cohesive unit of a district,” he said.

Garrison said they hope to continue to grow the district.

“Where it is now, God-willing, isn’t where it is in 10 years,” he said.

Garrison said this districting will position Claremore greatly on a state level.

“I think our community, people visiting and people through the state, will really see this will be a big launch to grasp our identity,” he said.

Spectrum Paint takes home the belt

 

Photo by RSU Honors Student, Emma Spear
Story by Claremore Progress News Editor, Chelsea Weeks

Downtown Claremore transformed from the average Main Street into an Olympic battleground as 16 local corporations fought for the title of Corporate Olympic Champion.

After a day of playing basketball, throwing axes and tossing bean bags, Spectrum Paint Co. walked away with the gold belt and title at the Claremore Main Street 2nd Corporate Olympic Games.

“It’s always exciting – doesn’t matter what event it is – to see so many people downtown,” CMS Executive Director Jacob Garrison said.

Spectrum Paint Co. secured first place with 13 points. Banc First followed with 10 points and last year’s champion, Pelco, fell to third place with 6 points.

Teams completed in 3-on-3 basketball, Angry Axe throwing, corn hole, football target throwing and Hillcat Hacker golf.

Garrison said the original event was scheduled for May, but was postponed because of the weather.

“We had to make a few adjustments on the fly,” he said.

Garrison said overall the turnout – and weather – was great.

“It’s really exciting and promising that we’re seeing a great turnout downtown,” he said.

Garrison said when they began planning for this event in January, they weren’t sure what to expect due to the pandemic. Garrison said he’d like to see the event become a staple event in the community and grow to a two-night event.

“We’ve seen it grow from 10 teams to 16,” he said. “People are getting more familiar with the event and what the event — and more importantly how much fun the event is. We want to see that continue to grow as the community gets more excited.”

The teams that participated included Spectrum Paint Co., BancFirst, Pelco Structural, RCB Bank, Rogers State University, City of Claremore, Chick-fil-A, Baker Hughes, Cedar Point, Clear Title, Claremore Christian Schools, Destiny Life Church, Rhapsody Boutique Salon & Spa, Solid Rock Realtors and Tulsa Federal Credit Union.

“This is a really great event for those community employees that maybe don’t live here, that head home at 5 o’clock, this gives them an opportunity to stay and, not only see our event, but go into our shops and get acquainted with what we have to offer,” Garrison said.

Not only could attendees watch the Corporate Olympic Games and shop, but they could also eat at one of 10 food trucks, check out items at the numerous vendors and listen to music performed by the band The Aviators.

CMS Banquet Award Winners

CMS hosts appreciation banquet

CMS Banquet Award Winners

Story by Chelsea Weeks, News Editor Claremore Progress
Photo by Emma Spear

Claremore Main Street hosted an appreciation banquet Thursday.

“2020 brought many challenges to this community and it brought many challenges to Claremore Main Street as well,” said Board of Directors President Kyle Clifton. “However, despite the adversity this community was faced with, Main Street continued to push forward with it’s mission to preserve, restore and revitalize downtown Claremore. As well as provide critical support to local businesses and local merchants.”

Executive Director Jacob Garrison said he would not be able to name all the volunteers who showed up and dedicated their time to help downtown.

Claremore Main Street came up with a new award: the Lilac Award. Garrison said this award goes to someone who has been a part of the journey for many years.

Carolyn Peterson was the recipient of the Lilac Award.

“There’s not a folder of photos in the Main Street computer that does not have one of her faces on it,” Garrison said.

The 2021 Board Member of the Year recipient was Bob Waters.

Here are the names of the 2020 awards and recipients:

• Community Partner of the Year — Claremore Signs.

• Community Volunteer of the Year — Bob Hawkins.

• Volunteer of the Year — Jimye Sharp.

• Downtown Business of the Year — LoliPop a sweet boutique.

• Downtown Merchant of the Year — Kathy Glover.

Because COVID prevented Claremore Main Street members from having a banquet in 2020, they announced the 2019-20 Board Member of the Year, Nancy Fitts, at Thursday’s banquet.

Garrison said it was humbling to look back at everything done in the past two years and everyone involved.

During Garrison’s first year — 2019— he started by looking for ways to enhance the visual aspect of downtown Claremore.

The first thing he did as executive director was change the benches and trash cans. He then added downtown banners on the light poles.

Several businesses began investing in downtown in 2020, including Taps on the Tracks, Smoke and Tonic and Wildflour Baking Co.

“I can’t think of anything I appreciate more, outside our volunteers, than people who come in and invest in our downtown,” he said. “Because if we were to just continue doing what we’re doing, and we didn’t have those people putting their dollars in, we’d just be spinning in the mud.”

They began working on the Muskogee Corner — a project Garrison said was the longest project so far during his career as the director. He said the project has received compliments statewide.

The mural on the Spectrum Paint building was completed, the downtown map was donated, Claremore Main Street was rebranded with a new logo, the windows on Ann’s Cleaners were remodeled and events such as Food Truck Thursdays started.

“It’s been a fast ride of momentum that we want to keep going,” he said.

That momentum has continued within the first half of 2021.

Claremore Main Street moved into its new offices and has organized at least one event every month.

Claremore Main Street is working on creating a Parklet Program.

“We wanted that to increase some of the sitting areas in our downtown,” he said.

Garrison said a parklet encompasses a parking space and creates a seating area. The goal with the program is to get more people engaged downtown.

“Our success can not be measured from one perspective, or part of the main street process,” Clifton said. “It takes the sum of all the parts working together to achieve the vision.”

Taste of Claremore is Tonight!

What to know about tonight’s Taste of Claremore Event:

 
  • Tonight’s event is hosted by Claremore Main Street, and sponsored by our downtown partner Spectrum Paint Company.
  • Event starts at 6:00pm
  • Tickets to participate in the TASTE OF CLAREMORE portion of the event go on sale at 5:00pm at the Claremore Main Street offices (VERY limited number of tickets remain!)
  • Food samples are first come, first serve. When all samples are gone, they are GONE! So get an early jump on visiting our stores and getting your amazing samples.
  • The concert portion is FREE TO ATTEND. Even if you do not get food tickets to sample over 20 local restaurants and wineries, you can still enjoy the fun with downtown shopping and live music.
  • An autographed guitar by the Swon Brothers will be raffled off tonight, with tickets being sold for $5.00 at the Claremore Main Street offices.
  • Water will be sold at the Claremore Main Street offices for $1.00.
  • Limited number of chairs will be set up downtown, but those attending the concert are encouraged to bring their own lawn chair as well.
  • Food options will be available at all of our downtown restaurants throughout the night, as well as a food truck, which will be located in the RCB ATM parking lot.
 
Music lineup included:
  • 6:00pm- George Melton and The Bison – Feat. Travis Pec
  • 7:00pm- Jake Tankersley
  • 7:40pm- Makayla Gaylord
  • 8:00pm- The Swon Brothers
 
We are excited to see everyone downtown tonight!

Claremore Main Street hosts Taste of Claremore

Story by Claremore Progress News Editor, Chelsea Weeks

If You Go

When: April 24th, 2021 6-9 pm

Where: Downtown Claremore

Cost: $12 pre-sale, $15 night of

Best Contact:

Claremore Main Street Executive Assistant Shiloh Johnson discusses the upcoming event Tastes of Claremore and what attendees can look forward too.

1. What is this event?

Taste of Claremore is a food and wine tasting event with shopping and live music. From the 500 block to Weenonah, ticket holding patrons will wander Downtown Claremore and have the chance to taste food and wine from over twenty of the best local restaurants. The restaurants will be stationed in our downtown small businesses so patrons can shop while they taste. The street will be closed from the 500 block up to the Claremore Daily Progress to provide space for entertainment and for guests to walk with ease from store to store. We’ll have live music entertainment by local musicians throughout the evening with The Swon Brothers taking the stage at 8 pm for a free outdoor concert. This year’s festivities are sponsored by the amazing folks at Spectrum Paint Company.

2. How can Claremore residents get involved?

Grab your ticket and come out to support your local restaurants, wineries, and stores! Buying your ticket early gives us important information on how many samples our restaurants need to prepare. Tickets are on sale now at Spectrum Paint Company, The District on Main, Rhapsody Boutique Salon & Spa, and the Claremore Main Street Offices. In the meantime, share your excitement for the event and your love for our historic downtown Claremore with friends, family, and social media. Every little bit helps our vibrant community continue to grow!

3. What is the goal of this event?

The goal of the event is to support our downtown small businesses and our local restaurants and wineries. The past year has been difficult for everyone, so we want to provide a space for our local restaurants and our main street businesses to be highlighted. We also want to provide some fun for our community.

4. Where did the idea for this event originate?

The idea came from the desire to showcase our local restaurants, wineries, and our downtown small businesses. We have held the event in various forms for years. It was previously known as Sip, Savor and Shop and boasted a silent auction. The event has evolved overtime to the Taste of Claremore it is today with the fun atmosphere of live music.

5. How has this event impacted Claremore?

This event is such a great opportunity for our local restaurants to showcase their skills and for our community to try something new. Our stores have the added benefit of foot traffic into their awesome spaces. It’s a fan favorite event!

A collage of renovation photos. Thank you to all our Main Street Partners who helped make our new downtown office happen! Tim Nichols – Capital Roofing, Adult Day Care Center, Bob Hawkins, Charlie Brown Electric, Claremore Signs, CRV Demo & Roll Offs, Gaylord Custom Homes, JG Floors, Lyon Construction, Marble Elegance, Spectrum Paint. And a special Thank You to these Main Street Board Members for all of their help! Claire Hawkins (Spectrum Paint), Zac Oliver (Coldwell Banker Select)

New Office Build Out-Thank You!

They say it “takes a village,” and that statement rings true. It takes a community that is willing to band together to help make things happen, to help people grow, and to plant the seeds for a brighter future. When Claremore Main Street decided to move into our own building, we knew it was going to take the community’s help to make our lofty dreams a reality. Claremore delivered!

We accomplished the entire renovation in about one month’s time thanks to the hard work and dedication of our generous professionals. Countless hours were spent in the evenings and weekends by kind individuals cleaning, moving us in and putting the finishing touches on our office. It is a beautiful space, and we are proud to say our partners and community helped us build it. We are proud to a part of the Historic Downtown Legacy that we care for so deeply.

Thank you to those that donated their time and services. Thank you to our Board Members for going on this journey with us. Thank you to Claremore for your excitement and support as we built this footprint to better serve you. We could not have done it without you!

A collage of renovation photos. Thank you to all our Main Street Partners who helped make our new downtown office happen! Tim Nichols – Capital Roofing, Adult Day Care Center, Bob Hawkins, Charlie Brown Electric, Claremore Signs, CRV Demo & Roll Offs, Gaylord Custom Homes, JG Floors, Lyon Construction, Marble Elegance, Spectrum Paint. And a special Thank You to these Main Street Board Members for all of their help! Claire Hawkins (Spectrum Paint), Zac Oliver (Coldwell Banker Select)

Paint the town 2021 Wildflour Baking Co window

Paint the Town kicks off RSU Homecoming

 

Story by Claremore Progress News Editor, Chelsea Weeks

Twenty Rogers State University student organizations used cans of paint, brushes and tape to display their school spirit Friday.

Paint the Town — an event where RSU student organizations partner with downtown Claremore businesses to paint windows — kicks off this year’s homecoming week. RSU hosts Pittsburgh State on Jan. 30 at the Claremore Expo Center in its annual homecoming game.

“Paint the Town is a great way to bring the campus and the community together,” RSU Alumni Director Travis Peck said. “We want to see participation grow each year and expand to any and all businesses that would like to participate. Claremore is home to RSU, and we want the town to embrace our students, orgs, and teams as their own.”

Student organizations ranging from RSU Golf to the Student Nurses Association scattered throughout downtown to paint windows and show their school spirit.

These window paintings will be judged by Claremore Mayor Bill Flanagan, wife Lou Flanagan and RSU President Dr. Larry Rice and wife Peggy Rice.

The judges will determine the winners Monday Jan. 25.

First-place winner receives $500, second place receives $300 and third place receives $100. Peck said the money goes directly to the student organizations.

Peck said the RSU Alumni Association partnered with Claremore Main Street and Spectrum Paint.

“We want to say a special thank you to Spectrum Paint for sponsoring this event and their willingness to work with us and make it possible,” he said.

Peck said they want to tie RSU in with the community as often as possible.

Claremore Main Street Executive Director Jacob Garrison said this is the second year to have this event downtown.

“We were blown away in year one with how many student organizations wanted to participate,” he said.

When Garrison started at Claremore Main Street in 2019 he approached RSU with the idea of doing something downtown.

“In my interview process and first month on the job, I had really wanted to work on strengthening that relationship with RSU and getting more students downtown,” he said.

Sixteen student organizations participated last year and 20 participated this year.

“It’s definitely growing,” Garrison said.

Garrison said some businesses who didn’t participate last year made sure to participate this year.

“We definitely have more people this year and more clubs,” he said. “Hopefully that will just keep growing.”

SAAC and District on Main won last year and were awarded the trophy during halftime of the homecoming game.

“We don’t really know how we’re going to do it this year with COVID,” he said.

Garrison said he hopes this event encourages RSU students to get engaged with the businesses downtown.

Executive Director, Jacob Garrison and Board member, Lou Flannagan with new business owner

Claremore Main Street Looks Back

Story by The Claremore Daily Progress, Staff Reports

It was a year of growth and transition for Claremore Main Street. 
On request of Claremore City Council, Main Street Executive Director Jacob Garrison provided a look back at the successes of the program in the last year.

First, he noted, that the organization is funded largely through partnership drives. In the 2016-2017 year the drive brought in $22,495.00 and in the 2017-2018 year it brought in $20,379. The following year, 2018-2019 it raised $16,795.

In the 2019-2020 year, when Garrison began, it doubled to reach $30,168 and in 2020-2021 it hit $40,029.

“I was worried because many of our events serve as fundraisers, which were impacted by COVID,” said Garrison. “But this is an increase of about $10,000 that’s going to stay in our downtown, go to our businesses through grants through the organization.”

In the past year Garrison said they welcomed 6 to 10 new businesses to downtown.

“We’ve also had a façade grant expansion, previously we could give up to $2,000 to businesses who wanted to upgrade their façade and we’ve doubled that to $4,000,” he said, adding that additional, new micro-grants are in the works.

“We’ve worked with CIEDA on a building database to be able to know who owns the buildings, what they’re looking for in terms of tenants, what buildings might be coming available for purchase or rent,” Garrison said. “All of which is helpful to know at a glance for development purposes.”

He said the color-coded, detailed downtown map was another success this year.

“It was a seemingly small thing but we incorporated the map in several ways to help promote businesses downtown,” he said. “We also completed the map kiosk. This was something we worked really hard to get completed. There’s new landscaping, rock, benches, a large map kiosk that shows where businesses are. We took a corner with no aesthetic offering and we took it over.”

Another project saw the windows of Ann’s Cleaner’s wrapped with historic Claremore photos.

“Again, this was a relatively simple thing that added a lot of impact,” Garrison said. “The military banners were also a hit.”

Towards the end of the year Claremore Main Street announced the completion of a project that was more than a year in the making—Christmas lights lining each downtown building.

“Main Street’s purpose is to bring people downtown so we want to be very strategic about that,” Garrison said.

That said, Garrison said two new events were added to the programming this year: Paint the Town and Corporate Olympics.

Paint the Town partnered downtown merchants with RSU student organizations for a window decorating contest during RSU homecoming week, with paint provided by Spectrum.

“We named a winner during the halftime game,” said Garrison. “We wanted to bridge that RSU/Downtown gap and we’ve seen more involvement from them since. Also, Corporate Olympics started this year and will be every spring. We had nine different participants and will grow every year.”
In 2020, Claremore Main Street added a new employee to the team, rolled out new branding, and moved into a new office space.

Garrison also shared what they are looking to accomplish in 2021.

“We are in communication with Cherokee Nation about a mural downtown, along Main Street Tavern. I think that will be a great visual,” he said.

Garrison said partnerships with CIEDA and the city of Claremore will continue to be vital.

“We are working on a vision plan for the next year,” Garrison said. “We don’t want anything to be dusty, on the shelf, or out of date for 10 years. We want a vision plan that doesn’t just sit on a shelf but that guides the ways we can continue to show our value and benefit our main street and city.
”

Garrison said other goals for 2021 include: 
*Secure long-term funding for staffing
, continued focus on community partnerships, evolving their 4-point approach
 and increasing their web and app presence.

Executive Director Jacob Garrison and Executive Assistant Shiloh Johnson stand outside the new offices of Claremore Main Street. Chelsea Weeks / Progress photo

Claremore Main Street Opens New Office

Executive Director Jacob Garrison and Executive Assistant Shiloh Johnson stand outside the new offices of Claremore Main Street.  Chelsea Weeks / Progress photo

Executive Director Jacob Garrison and Executive Assistant Shiloh Johnson stand outside the new offices of Claremore Main Street.
Chelsea Weeks / Progress photo 

Story by The Claremore Daily Progress, Chelsea Weeks/ News Editor

Claremore Main Street’s downtown footprint grew in an effort to match its ambitions when the organization moved into its new offices Monday.

The office, located at 412 W. Will Rogers Blvd., is 1,100 square feet. Main Street occupied office space — about 100 square feet — in the Claremore Chamber of Commerce building.

“This space is going to be great for the next few stages of growth that our organization can have,” Executive Director Jacob Garrison said.

Garrison said the most important aspect of the new building is having a visual footprint downtown.

The process of looking for a new building began in November after the board hired Shiloh Johnson as Executive Assistant.

“At that point, growing to a second employee, we began looking at those long-term goals of where we would like this organization to go,” Garrison said. “This has always been a vision of mine to see our organization have our own location and have the need for it — have the need for staffing and space.”

Garrison said he knew the new office space would become available soon and by Dec. 1 they had started renovation.

“It’s going to consolidate so many things and simplify so many things that will make the sufficiency of our organization a lot better,” he said.

The building offers a storage room in back, kitchen area, two offices, a board room and a reception area.

Garrison said they went from an empty building to a functional office in one month.

“It was very humbling to see how many people wanted to pitch in,” he said. “The time frame and cost that it would take to do this would be much larger than what we would be able to to.”

Whether it was financial contributions or time and talent, Garrison said the contributions of many is what helped make this happen in a short amount of time.

“We’re in here and we’re excited,” he said.

Garrison said a few of the contributors include Tim Nichols with Capital Roofing, Gaylord Construction, Lyon Construction, CRV Demo and Roll Offs, Charlie Brown Electric, Spectrum Paint and Bob Hawkins.

“These people are so excited to help us and it makes us excited to go forward with what we’re doing,” he said.

With the new space, Garrison said he’s able to focus on the longterm goals of the organization.

“This has and will expedite the growth of our organization,” he said.

Garrison said there is not a vacancy problem downtown because people want to get in. Looking forward, Garrison said they’re not focusing on if they can fill the buildings but what types of businesses they’d like to see downtown.

Garrison said they will be working with Claremore Collective to create think tanks and see that what the citizens of Claremore want to see within their downtown and community.