The Duncan Banner

April 28, 2013

Land Run Day makes Oklahoma history interactive

Rebeka Miller
The Duncan Banner

DUNCAN — There was a rumble of wagon wheels, cries of excitement and the stirring of dust when students from three Duncan elementaries reenacted one of Oklahoma’s most famous events.

This year, both third and fourth graders at all schools participated rather than just fourth grade because of changes in the core curriculum. Following this year, only third grade will take part.

Horace Mann students started out their Land Run Day festivities with the singing of Oklahoma-themed songs, dancing and reading aloud a few facts about the state. Square dancing and the Cotton-Eyed Joe were performed and songs like “Oklahoma Rising” and “Oklahoma” were sung.

“Ms. (Cheryl) Johnson has been working with them for two or three months on the songs and dancing during music class,” said Kathy Willeford, fourth grade teacher. “They always get really into dressing up. At first they’re not sure but then they get here and their eyes just light up and they love it.”

At Plato and Horace Mann’s land runs, several students were in 1800s-style prairie settlers dress. Bonnets and long floral dresses for the girls and button up shirts and cowboy hats for the boys were seen all over both playgrounds.

“It’s pretty fun to dress up but I wouldn’t want to dress like this everyday,” said Sydney White, a Horace Mann fourth grader.

Light rain and chilly temperatures earlier in the day didn’t seem to faze the students.

“It’s Oklahoma, we told them they have to be tough like on the prairie,” Willeford said.

Several students had created small covered wagons that they brought Friday for the Land Run Day races, which they pulled  as they raced across the field to stake a claim on “their land.” Courtney Christian at Plato took a ride in her group’s wagon.

“It was scary,” she said. “But it was exciting.”

Several play stations were manned by parents for Plato students to go to after their land run. These included panning for gold, steer dummy roping, clothes washing and petting a goat.

Mark Twain’s land run was held at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center, where they participated in several activities the center offers before their run. Completing the experience for the young students was their visit to “The Experience Theater” which gave them quite a thrill with all the smells, sights and sounds it provides and squeals could be heard when it “rained” on them.