By Cathy Spaulding
Phoenix Staff Writer
FORT GIBSON — For more than 85 years, the Grand River Bridge helped link Fort Gibson with Muskogee.
This year, the bridge links Fort Gibson to the holidays.
The bridge is featured on the 2013 Fort Gibson Chamber of Commerce Christmas Ornament. The ornament features the bridge as a backdrop for a green Christmas tree. The caption — “Christmas in Fort Gibson Oklahoma • Grand River Bridge • Erected in 1926” — is wreathed around the scene against a red background.
The pewter ornament is available for $10 at Fort Gibson Town Hall, Fort Gibson State Bank, Armstrong Bank, SonBurst Graphics, Granny’s Porch and Valu-Med Pharmacy, said Fort Gibson Chamber Director Gary Perkins.
Chamber members voted on the ornament design, he said.
“We had a lot of different ideas,” Perkins said
Perkins said he took pictures of the bridge from various angles before sending a picture to Inola Casting, which made the ornaments.
Muskogee County Commissioner Gene Wallace said the 781-foot bridge is one of the longest county truss bridges in Oklahoma.
“It was the longest and tallest principal bridge commissioned for eastern Oklahoma,” Wallace said. “It connected two counties and is north of the convergence of three rivers — the Grand, Verdigris and Arkansas.”
He said the bridge is on the route 19th Century author Washington Irving took through Oklahoma. Irving wrote “Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”
Wallace recalled driving on that bridge many times as he was growing up.
“And I swam off that bridge,” Wallace said. “It’s rumored some people even jumped off that bridge.”
Fort Gibson resident Pat Green said she crosses the bridge nearly every day. She said the family has property west of the river.
“It seems to link us to where we’re going, my husband in particular,” Green said. “I remember people jumping off the bridge. There are probably still people jumping off the bridge.”
The Grand River Bridge ornament is the Chamber’s sixth, Perkins said.
He said they are becoming collectors’ items.
“I get calls all the time wanting to know if we have past years,” he said. “I don’t think I have any of the ’09 ones, maybe a few.”
Past ornaments have featured Fort Gibson National Cemetery, the old fort stockade, the John C. Beal Building, the Fort Gibson Seal and Centennial Park, Perkins said.
“We start each year with 100 ornaments, but we have to reorder each year,” he said.
“Each year, I start getting calls in October wanting to know when the ornaments will be going on sale.”
Denise Bain, owner and partner of SonBurst Graphics, said her business sold 10 ornaments in the past week.
Ornament sales are part of Christmas holiday festivities in Fort Gibson.
The Chamber also is taking entries for the 2013 Starlight Christmas Parade, set for 7 p.m. Dec. 2.
The route begins at the Church of Christ and goes north on Lee Street to Poplar Street, then right to the parking lot of the former Fajita Rita’s.
This year’s theme is “A Magical Christmas.”
Perkins said the parade usually has about 40 entries.
Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
2013 Fort Gibson Christmas ornaments are available for $10 at Fort Gibson State Bank, SonBurst Graphics, Armstrong Bank, Granny’s Porch, Fort Gibson Town Hall, and Valu-Med Pharmacy