I never would have guessed that one phone call would turn into a country-wide effort to help rebuild our beloved Veterans Memorial Park. This past May, a historic tornado damaged most of the park and other areas in our city of Moore, Oklahoma. A few weeks later, we received a call from someone who had helped organize voters in 2011 around a park in Joplin as part of the Coca-Cola America Is Your Park campaign. From the minute we learned of the contest, we knew this was going to be something very special.
The word spread like wildfire. In a matter of days, groups organized around the city to help Vets win the top prize of $100,000. The Moore city government promoted the campaign on the website, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. We also rallied our community by having volunteers staff a tent in the park to encourage people to vote, creating and handing out postcards to residents, making promotional videos and including information in the City’s utility bill newsletter.
Others around the country began to join our efforts. People created Facebook pages on our behalf, shared minute-by-minute updates on vote counts and voted round the clock to help us win. The support was overwhelming. Even celebrities encouraged their social media fans and followers to “Take It To The Park” to help us win big!
By the Fourth of July, our campaign for Veterans Park had become America’s campaign! We hosted a “get-out-the-vote” event at the town’s July 4th celebration where hundreds of people came out to vote. The love of the park and what it means to our city really showed. It’s a summer we’ll never forget here in Moore and we can’t wait to begin rebuilding the playground for children to be active again.
Who would think that a small town park in Moore could win the hearts of people around the country and the title of “America’s Favorite Park?” Following our disaster, we’ve learned that anything is possible when people come together to help out. And this is just one more example of how, out of the tragedy of May 20, we saw a great triumph emerge.
Todd Jenson is Parks and Recreation Director of the City of Moore, Oklahoma.