In the 146 years since the city’s birth on July 21, 1870, there’s probably never been a better time to live in Wichita than right now. Sure, we get rattled by the occasional earthquake, Kellogg seems to have been under construction for at least 30 years, and we STILL don’t have a Cheesecake Factory. But if you stop and think about it, there are also lots of reasons to be proud of our city.
If you’re looking for a good time, Wichita is the place to be. We’ve got several local breweries serving up tasty craft beers, a huge selection of restaurants (there’s still room for a Cheesecake Factory, though) and more than our fair share of museums, theaters and concert venues. Not to mention parks, bowling alleys, skating rinks and even a drive-in movie theater. Seriously, do you know how lucky we are to still have a drive-in? There are only five left in the entire state of Kansas!
It’s not just fun and games here, though. Wichita’s come a long way from its rowdy cowtown roots, when cowboys kicked up their heels and raised a little ruckus in the saloons and brothels of the Delano district. Today, we’ve settled down a bit and grown into a thriving business and entrepreneurship community.
Wichita is known as the Air Capital of the World for our role in aviation history, but our old airport definitely didn’t do that title justice. As of last summer, though, air travelers are grandly welcomed to our city by the new Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport, a bright, modern terminal that celebrates our city’s biggest claim to fame.
Our police department has become a point of pride recently. If you haven’t been on social media or seen the news in the past few weeks, the WPD Bomb Squad’s Running Man Challenge video took the top spot in Policeone.com’s worldwide rankings last month. More recently, the Wichita Police Department gained national attention for teaming up with organizers of a planned Black Lives Matter protest to create a community barbecue event, instead. The spirit of cooperation and open communication fostered by the “First Steps Cook Out” will serve as a shining example for communities across the country. You gotta wonder, though - how did the WPD ended up with so many officers with awesome dance moves?
Even if you’re not a sports fan, you can still be proud of our local baseball, hockey, arena football and soccer teams. There are also three colleges in Wichita, all with successful athletics programs. Of course, the most widely known is the Wichita State University men’s basketball team. The Shockers’ recent 5-year NCAA tournament streak, including a Final Four appearance, put Wichita on the college sports map. People still don’t know what WuShock is, but that sort of adds to WSU’s mystique, don’t you think? Former Shockers Fred VanVleet, Ron Baker and Cleanthony Early recently made the step up to the NBA, but for many Wichitans, they’re still “our boys”, and we’ll continue to cheer them on and wish them continued success.
To be fair, Wichita’s not perfect: There’s always road construction. We’ve got that whole east side vs. west side thing. And, we have a noticeable lack of a Cheesecake Factory. But construction means our city is growing and improving, east siders and west siders are slowly learning to coexist, and we attract more businesses every year. The future is bright for Wichita, and that’s definitely worth celebrating.