A Gathering Place for Tulsa - Case Study - Saxum

WorkGeorge Kaiser Family Foundation: A Gathering Place for Tulsa

A Gathering Place for Tulsa – Groundbreaking Ceremony

A momentous transformation in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is underway with the construction of A Gathering Place for Tulsa—a world-class 100-acre park that will stand as one of the largest gifts of public space in U.S. history. Turning the Arkansas riverfront into a dynamic and active space, this project led by George Kaiser Family Foundation (GKFF) will improve the city’s social, economic and environmental sustainability. The park will blend nature and urban environments and will include features such as a lodge, a boathouse, nature walks, two land bridges, sporting areas and a pond. With a total of $350 million donated by a mix of corporate and philanthropic Tulsa organizations, A Gathering Place for Tulsa will serve as a national attraction.

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As one of the largest recreation and civic development projects in Tulsa’s history, a basic ceremonial groundbreaking for officials was not an option for the scheduled Sept. 20, 2014, start of construction. Saxum was faced with the challenge of involving the entire community, which had been included in every phase of the park’s creation to date, through a family-friendly event and generating excitement when even the park’s first phase would not open until late 2017.


During a collaborative planning session with the client (GKFF), the decision was made to host a community-wide groundbreaking celebration providing Tulsa citizens, kids and elected officials the opportunity to engage, have fun and visit the site of Tulsa’s future park. Working with a local event planner and a sub-committee of community-organization volunteers, Saxum got to work creating the day-long, picnic-style extravaganza.

To build buzz in the months leading up to the event, a fully integrated marketing plan was enacted. Saxum developed promotional materials including print and digital ads for Tulsa’s most popular publications and broadcast stations, save-the-date invitations for the community, formal invitations for VIPs and elected officials, social media graphics, valet parking passes, posters and flyers. Event materials created included 2,500 custom-wrapped mini shovels for kids to participate in the groundbreaking, event directional and informational signage, graphic stanchions displaying park features and stage banners displaying project donors. Additionally, a digital advertising budget was allocated to several social media posts to utilize sponsored content on Facebook, and Saxum also hit the ground to distribute 100 posters and 300+ flyers to local businesses.

Saxum also unveiled a digital interactive installation at the groundbreaking with the Park Pod. Developed with global design firms, the Park Pod is a world-class inflatable theater dome that allows users to walk in and view 270 degrees of high-definition animated renderings of the park. The 40-foot wide and 25-foot tall exhibit offered a five-minute virtual tour of the current site and what it will look like when completed to help the public imagine the future. 


With months of event preparation, marketing, public relations and logistical coordination, A Gathering Place for Tulsa’s groundbreaking celebration attracted more than 3,500 community members; dozens of city and state elected officials, including Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin and Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett; and 30 media outlets resulting in more than 140 media placements reaching an audience of more than 2.8 million. Additionally, live music, two local marching bands, 20 food trucks and more than 20 community organizations providing family-friendly activities made the celebration one to remember.


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