By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Dinosaurs, medieval knights, lords and ladies, musicians, a renowned painter, OU ponies Boomer and Sooner and other friends helped celebrate 20 years of tourism Monday in Norman.
The Norman Convention and Visitors Bureau’s 20-year anniversary celebration included a gala luncheon commemorating National Tourism Week.
“Staycations are in this year in 2013,” Mayor Cindy Rosenthal said after officially proclaiming May 5-11 as National Tourism Week in Norman.
Rosenthal said Norman offers everything a traveler could want.
NCVB Executive Director Stephen Koranda, after removing the head of a dinosaur costume he had worn while welcoming guests incognito, said lots of jobs depend on tourism in Norman.
Koranda commended his staff and recognized the efforts of the three directors who had preceded him since the Convention and Visitors Bureau was established 20 years ago. Former executive directors Danna Fowble and Marcy Jarrett were on hand for the anniversary celebration. Former director Sherri Rogers was unable to attend.
The celebration was in conjunction with the CVB’s annual year in review. A slideshow of accomplishments indicated that 17 of 18 key indicators of the bureau’s success are up this year compared to last year’s numbers, and Koranda pledged those numbers will continue to grow.
“What we call results are just beginnings,” he said.
Joyce Pitchlynn of the Norman Parks Foundation made a special presentation along with the announcement of a new landscaping award to be given annually in an effort to encourage landscape excellence in the community.
Pitchlynn said the University of Oklahoma provided the inspiration for the award with its great landscaping. The Foundation kicked off the recognition this year by recognizing OU with a special Inspiration award.
In particular, Pitchlynn said the Foundation wanted to honor President David Boren and OU First Lady Molly Shi Boren, who have been particularly active in promoting landscaping and the planting of trees at the university.
The bronze award features a sculpture of a tree because “trees inspire our creativity,” Pitchlynn said.
Molly Shi Boren accepted the award on behalf of the university’s landscaping department and spoke passionately about the importance of trees.
“They do all the work. David and I are just the cheerleaders,” she said.
Mrs. Boren also encouraged the city to keep its arborist position in the city budget. She said she had recently learned that the vacant position may be eliminated from the budget.
“It sends a message that trees are not that important,” she said. “It’s very important to tourism.”
She called on the mayor, city council and city manager to keep the position.
Tourism awards were presented by Transcript Executive Editor Andy Rieger, one of the judges of this year’s contest. Winners were:
· Hospitality: Montford Inn Bed and Breakfast and the NCED Conference Center and Hotel
· Top Attraction: Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History
· Best Festival or Event: Jazz in June
Legend’s Restaurant catered the event, and Michael Bendure, Kyle Reid and a troupe from the Sooner Theatre provided musical entertainment.