Opening night of Christmas Chute draws record crowds

As many as 20,000 visitors, 21,000 square feet of walkable Christmas trimmings, and a whole lot of community spirit—Sapulpa outdid itself at its annual Lights On ceremony and its inaugural night of the Christmas Chute on Historic Route 66 on Thursday evening. 

Sponsored by:
An estimated 20,000 people came to downtown Sapulpa for the unveiling of the Christmas Chute at this year’s Sapulpa Main Street “Lights On!” celebration. (Photo by Sheri Waldrop)

The Chute is the brainchild of local businessman Will Berry, who had a rudimentary idea a few Christmases ago while at other local holiday attractions for something to bring people to our fair city. 

People come for the Paragon light display, he thought. Why not create a reason for them to stay, eat, and shop? 

Sponsored by:

Over two years, $800K of privately-raised money, and more than 300 volunteers later, and the Christmas Chute was born.  

Governor Stitt himself made a trip to downtown Sapulpa to see the Chute and visit with business owners before the official lighting ceremony. “I’m so impressed with what you guys are doing here it makes me want to move to Sapulpa,” he said.

Mayor Craig Henderson told Sapulpa Times that though he’d “seen snippets, I could never have imagined how big this was going to be. It’s insane, crazy. It’s Roosevelt’s [Tulsa’s gastropub that goes all-out for the holidays] on steroids!”

Left to right: Mayor Craig Henderson (holding a grandson), Newt Stephens, Santa Claus, and Mike Collier flip the lights on following the countdown. (Photo by Sheri Waldrop)

In addition to the walkable Chute of 1,100 feet of Christmas decorations featuring 10 themes, 8,500 icicles, 1,100 giant ornaments, and over 35,000 lights, attractions included the giant Tree of Hope on the Courthouse lawn, Santa and his live reindeer at Martha’s Corner, festive photo opportunities at every corner, a multitude of food trucks (including one that exclusively sold candy and ice cream!), pop-up shops, and Christmas music, along with downtown’s eclectic assortment of retail shops and restaurants.

Economic Development Director and State Representative Mark Lawson jokingly warned, “Sapulpa better be ready for the thousands of other visitors that are coming to town over the next two months! Once again, our community has shown what we are capable of when we come together for a common cause. It’s going to be a very Merry Christmas for Sapulpa this year.”

“People were shoulder-to-shoulder up and down Dewey. The stores were busy! This is going to be huge for years to come!,” raved City Councilor Richard Hudson. “It’s magical, amazing, and unlike anything I’ve ever seen.”

If activity from last night is any indicator, the economic boost Sapulpans hoped the Chute would bring to their businesses looks certain. Chuck It Dogs sold out of a weekend’s worth of food in 3 hours, despite stocking up, My Table restaurant ran out of food, several food trucks ran out of inventory, and Crossroads Cookery was booked solid before the Chute began. Additionally, retailers reported record sales for a Thursday. 

Berry concluded, “I think the turnout was definitely more than what we had anticipated and I think having that many people made it that much more magical. Having all the shops and restaurants open really left a great impression on how wonderful a community Sapulpa is.”

Vice-Mayor Carla Gunn enthused, “Being a lifelong Sapulpa Girl, this is something to remember! This is what we want to see—people out enjoying our Route 66. And this is just the beginning.” 

Dewey will remain closed until early January to provide a safe, walkable environment for guests and their families, and retailers and restaurants will be open later-than-usual hours. 

A map with Chute themes, parking, and restroom information can be found at route66christmaschute.com

The Chute will be open daily from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. until January 1st, 2023.