Will Rogers Memorial Museums
Since the Will Rogers Memorial Museum opened Nov. 4 1938, except for the war years, a celebration has marked the opening and Will Rogers’ Nov. 4, 1879 birth on an Oologah, Indian Territory, ranch.
It was 1938, three years after his untimely death in an Alaska plane crash, that Indian Women’s Pocahontas Club pledged to honor Will each year on his birthday. “Hats Off to Will” will be celebrated Saturday, Nov. 3, at the Museum. Club members will place a wreath at the Rogers’ family tomb and host a reception.
Pocahontas Club has announced $500 in cash prizes for first, second and third place Will Rogers Days Parade floats. First place will receive $250, second will receive $150 and third will get $100, according to Ollie Starr, club president.
The Claremore Reveille Rotary Club, which organizes and coordinates the parade, offers each school marching band a stipend of $100.
Four days of activities will span Nov. 1 through Nov. 4.
Several hundred children will share in Will’s life, wisdom and humor on opening day when they gather for “Children’s Day at the Museum,” a day of games, storytelling and musical entertainment.
Focus will again be on children when they crowd around Will’s birthplace ranch house on Friday for celebration of his 133rd birthday. Oologah-Talala school fourth graders, directed by Kim Grazier, will present a Grazier original musical. Kowboy Kal, champion trick roper, will entertain. He will also be in the Saturday parade.
Friends and family of Will Rogers will be at the museum Friday night for “Night at the Museum,” an evening of food and entertainment at the Memorial Museum from 6-8:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 and are available through the Museum.
Antique and classic cars will be on the Museum grounds starting at noon Saturday until time for the parade lineup.
Jim and Minisa Halsey will be parade marshals for the Saturday afternoon parade, organized by the Claremore Reveille Rotary Club. Halsey is best known for his many years of promoting entertainers all over the world from fairs and festivals, clubs and television studios, Las Vegas and Branson. Like Will Rogers, he ventured into the USSR. His wife, daughter of famed Native American artist Woody Crumbo, is an artist in her own right.
On the anniversary of Will’s birthday, Grand Lodge of Oklahoma, A.F. & A.M., will dedicate a new commemorative plaque on the portico wall of the Memorial Museum. Will Rogers was a member of the Claremore Masonic Lodge, renamed Will Rogers Lodge a few years ago.
Will Rogers Days for many years was primarily the Pocahontas Club ritual and parade. It has changed much to include several days surrounding the November 4 birthday, keeping those two elements. The children’s activities and “Night at the Museum,” originated as a special thanks to Friends of Will Rogers supporters, are more recent activities.