This blog was going to be one about the harmony of Oklahoma City Thunder fans, and the exciting way that the community was coming together in front of the Chesapeake Energy Arena to watch the playoff games and celebrate these victories together. However, in light of the events that took place in Thunder Alley late Monday night (5-21-12), I think it will end up being about something else entirely. After all, it is difficult to write about team spirit and community when eight people were shot and a pregnant fan was injured.
Before Monday night, the streets in front of the arena were blocked off, and the game was played on the big screen for all of the fans to watch and enjoy along with the crowd inside. While it was essentially the same coverage that you could get in your home on your own television, there was something of a vibrant community spirit that made it a lot more appealing and fun to take the family down there and watch the game in this atmosphere. Kids could play games and have their faces painted, and cheering alone at home is never as fun as yelling together as a group.
Because of the success of the Thunder, and their winning streak during the playoffs, the crowd outside the arena grew to an unruly 6,000 plus fans. It was too much, and the violence that broke out later put a definitive end to the games being broadcast outside. This was something that caught a lot of people off-guard. I know that the few times I went down there during the games there was never any hint of violence, and it seemed like a family fun event. There were street performers, activities, games, and a chance to win prizes. It had the feeling of a street carnival where afterward a game was shown. This was before the crowd had swelled to such large numbers, though.
However, there are still plans for pregame fun and celebrations for the community, the main difference being that they are no longer going to show the game or continue activities once the game begins. This will hopefully cut back on the large crowds that had been gathering to watch the game together. Instead focusing more on the street carnival atmosphere with food, drinks, music, games and face-painting will kick off home games three hours before the game is scheduled to start. I honestly hope this is a move that continues to cultivate that community spirit so that we can begin to go back to the more festive atmosphere and celebrate the fact that our basketball team is in the NBA playoffs!
Other blogs about Thunder Alley:
On the Welcome to Loud City blog, there’s an argument for why the Thunder Alley watch parties needs to continue.