Things Wichitans Should Be Thankful For in 2017
Okay ingrates, it's time to give thanks.
The Wichita Flag
The Wichita Flag was created in 1937. The day after it was made, absolutely everyone forgot about it. Completely. In the 1980s the city flew empty Wonder Bread bags above city hall, which were plentiful, as we hadn’t yet discovered the entire human race was allergic to gluten.
It wasn’t until 2014 that the flag reemerged. A hipster named Fenton was rummaging through a trunk at a local thrifty shoppe (that’s how hipsters spelled shop), hoping to find a vintage scarf that complemented his beard, but didn’t draw too much attention away from his toque (that’s what hipsters called hats). It was there that the only known Wichita Flag was found and revived in the form of a calf tattoo.
Flash forward to 2017, the Wichita Flag is now a paint color. You buy a can, roll it on a wall, instant Wichita Flag.
Very little of that is true, but really, we do love our flag. The flag has helped bring our city together, and it’s a legit source of civic pride. It also looks great on t-shirts, stickers, and especially calves. Who knew the symbol of our city could become the symbol of our city?
The NCAA Tournament
Wichita’s Intrust Bank Arena will host the first round games of the NCAA Tournament in 2018 and 2021. I realize not everyone is into sports, but trust me, this event is going to be bonkers. Good bonkers, not west Kellogg construction bonkers. In fact, I should mention, if west Kellogg is part of your route to Intrust Bank Arena, you’ll want to leave right now to make sure you get downtown in time for the tip-off in March.
Many people don’t know this, but when the NCAA Tournament comes to a city, tourists also come. If you’ve ever been on a vacation, you know that tourists completely lose their ability to comprehend economics. Vacation money is not the same as at-home money. We’ll see, but part of the excitement about the tournament is that tourists will leave all of their cash assets and a sizable portion of their 401Ks here, and we’ll all be to retire before the Final Four even begins.
The Q is Wichita’s free downtown trolley system, and it’s great.
About a decade before the Wichita Flag was created, Wichita had tolleys too. Real trolleys, that ran on tracks right in the middle of the street. Not like the trolleys we have now that are just (shhh, don’t tell anyone) neat looking buses.
Wichita’s modern day trolleys are a fantastic way to zip around downtown though. If you’re into bar hopping, or gallery hopping, or restaurant hopping, or most other styles of hopping that don’t actually involve the physical act of hopping, the Q is for you.
If you live in the suburbs, you can park your car in Oldtown or Delano, jump on the Q and make a day of it. Some of the things you can do from stop to stop: Have a beer at the Hopping Gnome Brewery, binge eat sushi at Wasabi, see dinosaur bones at the museum, have a beer at Central Standard Brewing, pay your outstanding parking tickets at City Hall, have a beer at Third Place Brewing, sprain an ankle ice skating, get multiple haircuts, tattoos and coffees, take selfies with the creepy Douglas Ave. statue people, have a beer at Aero Plains Brewing, grab some froyo, sprain your other ankle at the trampoline park, catch a movie, have a beer at Peerless… if you follow this route, you will not be feeling well at this point. Get off the Q and Uber home.
Full disclosure, my favorite pizza place on earth is Bimbo’s Pizza in Kalamazoo, Michigan. But until Elon Musk’s train straw thingy can get me to Michigan in an hour, I’ll have to settle for my second favorite, Knolla’s. If you’ve not read about the train straw yet, check it out, it’s sure to change the way we eat pizza.
Knolla’s is local. Their slogan is “Freedom from Corporate Pizza”, which is incredibly fitting for Wichita. We are so opposed to corporate made pizzas that years ago we politely asked Pizza Hut to take their world headquarters elsewhere.
Knolla’s pizza is different than corporate pizza because contains actual food items, whereas corporate pizza is made up of spreadsheets, market research and little bits of multimillion dollar advertising campaigns.
The Knolla’s family opened their first pizza shoppe (smh, hipsters) in the 1980s, and now have four locations. The Knolla’s live right here in Wichita, and they wake up everyday, probably still covered in pizza dough and flour from the day before, to make us delicious pizzas. The pizza is so good, they’ve won the local newspaper’s readers choice award for best pizza eight years in a row. Eight! This streak can’t go on forever... but neither can the newspaper.
My favorite is the New York style, with black olives, onions and jalapenos. If you want something crazy local, there’s the ICT Pizza, which consists of bacon, BBQ, minced garlic, basil, beef, onions, sunflower seeds, Parmesan cheese with a garlic butter crust.
A Final Thought
Of course, we have many other things to be thankful for. Wichita feels like that scene in the movie Almost Famous right now. The cool big sister says to the un-cool Cameron Croweesque character, “One day you’ll be cool.” That’s us, young and ripe with opportunity. Be thankful Wichita, and keep the momentum going.