Today, as many of you know, is my 29th birthday. It is a day where I shall party
like it’s 1999 like I’m 29, which is to say that I’ll go to work and come home and it will be an average day. I may get myself a little treat at lunch, but let’s not get too crazy. Ain’t nothing special about a birthday. Though, there was a time when birthdays were special days. It’s funny to think there was a time as children when birthdays meant everyone you knew brought you presents and it was all about you. Now, it totally means that you’re getting older and it becomes increasingly sadder when you are able to do a shot for every year you are old.
But think back to the time when birthdays were fun. Think back to the days when you’d fill out the party invitations you purchased in the stationery section of the local store, and pass them out at recess. Think back to the sweet presents all your classmates would bring. Now, realize that you can never have that again, because today I have for you, a list of 10 Oklahoma City places you can no longer have your birthday party. That’s right. I’m bringing you a list of all the places you used to go to celebrate, but are now closed forever.
Full disclosure: I never got to go to Molly Murphy’s. But I’d heard great things about it. My friend, Spam (yeah, I have a friend we call Spam), said that when she went, Minnie Mouse took her to the bathroom. I was about 4 or 5 at the time, and this seemed like the very pinnacle of fine dining to me. And the commercials made it seem like it was the happiest place on earth. As someone who has waited tables, I can say that the costumes and atmosphere were probably a pain in the ass for the staff. But damn, did that place seem crazy cool when I was a kid. Also, I find it incredibly ironic that this place that I longed to go for so long was located in the same area where I go every single day to work.
In my memory, this whole place was in black and white, though I know that it was only the cartoon theater that I’m remembering. I can’t recall a specific game I played there, but I can remember that I felt terribly mature for preferring this place to my local Chuck E. Cheese’s/Showbiz. I even think the adults in my family didn’t mind going here so much. I don’t think that can be said of any other location on my list.
Again, I can’t remember a specific game that I played here, but I remember going a lot. My uncle’s band used to play there often, and we’d get the whole family together for a night at Billy Balloo’s. I never got a chance to play on the roller blade rink, but only because my Mexican family assured me that only punks could skate.
This is the only adult location on this list. But Bill’s in Norman was a very important part of my life for a number of years. And there are those reading this that can say they remember me spending some birthday fun times there. And unlike The Mont, where I was cut me off twice on my twenty-fourth birthday, Bill’s never counted beers. They just kept bringing them two at a time. And don’t even tell me about their new place on SW 89th. It’s not the same. I have zero stories of friends puking on the bar top at SW 89th.
Lion’s Fun Park
Part of growing up in Edmond was going to Lion’s Fun Park and holding hands with cute boys on the mini golf course. Part of growing up a nerd in Edmond was going to Lion’s Fun Park and knowing that not a single cute boy wanted to hold your hand on the mini golf course. Fun fact: Lion’s is now an apartment complex that is just a stone’s throw away from the Edmond Planned Parenthood, which may be an even worse way to spend your birthday than in an apartment complex.
I know this place is technically still open. But it’s called Science Museum Oklahoma now. I wanted to go to The Omniplex for my birthday, not Science Museum Oklahoma. Also, I hear tell that they no longer have that giant clear plastic jungle gym that is supposed to teach you science when you climb through it. This makes me sad. Not as sad as the realization that my adult body would not fit inside that clear plastic jungle gym made of science.
Spring Lake Amusement Park / Wedgewood Village Amusement Park
I asked my mom if there were places she remembered from her childhood where someone might have had a birthday party. She told me about the Wedgewood Village Amusement Park, which apparently closed in the sixties, and the Spring Lake Amusement Park, where she apparently witnessed a race riot in 1969. If you’re working on a piece about the history of race relations in Oklahoma City, you can totally contact my mom. Though, I warn you, she was only 8 at the time, and probably could tell you more about the rides than the racial tensions.
Rocking Roller Rink
If you were a slightly edgy Gen Y kid in Edmond, you had a birthday party here. You skated your heart out, and then you played laser tag. Like all the things you remember and love, it’s not there anymore. Though, silver lining–it’s now a trampoline park.
Okay, I know this place is still open, too. Hell, I went there last week. But they no longer have the moldy animatronic bears playing banjos, ergo they are dead to me. I’m serious. I love animatronics. I’ve contemplated attending a service at Life Church simply because I’ve heard that they have an animatronic parrot for the kids. Is this true? Can they loan the parrot to Celebration Station? Seriously, it’s my fucking birthday and I like animatronics.
(Editor’s Note: Is Marisa losing her mind? Did Celebration Station really have an animatronic bear like Show Biz? Also, why the hell is Showbiz not on this list?)
Perhaps you recall a small pizza place in a strip mall across 2nd Street from Bryant Square in Edmond. Perhaps you remember Checkker’s Pizza. I had my fifth birthday party there, and I know for a fact that I am the only kid who had a badass birthday party there. How do I know? My parents owned that place. And they let me invite all my friends from daycare to come make pizza to celebrate my fifth birthday. You should be insanely jealous. Your fifth birthday was not this cool.
Well, that’s all I have for you. If you need me, I’m probably off somewhere drinking away the pain of aging while cursing at the Chili’s that is now where the Crystal’s used to be.