Gathering Place Ambassador Ariana Reagor reads everything she gets her hands on, uses multisyllabic words such as “voluminous” and has written 21 pages of her first book, a fantasy tale called “Maddi and the Great Escape.”
But the 11-year-old is as playful as she is precocious.
Her parents say Ariana is an expert in slime, which she makes once a week.
“There’s no shaving cream left in the house,” her father, Joe, said of one of the concoction’s ingredients. “She takes all the shaving cream.”
Creating the right consistency is key, she said.
“It’s not like that ooey-goopy stuff,” said Ariana, 11. “It’s not sticky. It’s just a stretchy, voluminous texture.
“With butter slime, you add clay to make it extra soft and thick. It’s so fun.”
Ariana appears to be having just as much fun molding the image of Gathering Place. The bubbly sixth-grader from Union Public Schools is in her second year as ambassador and “spokes-kid” for the $465 million riverfront park, which opens to the public Sept. 8.
“The heart of the park is the 5-acre Chapman Foundations Adventure Playground, and really the park is about kids in Tulsa today and their future and them finding the park to be a place where they grow up, have fond memories of and want to come back,” said Jeff Stava, executive director and trustee of Tulsa’s Gathering Place LLC.
“Ariana kind of represents the voice of the children.”
With the help of public relations firm Saxum, Gathering Place conducted a national search for the face of the park, Park Director Tony Moore said. Unmoved by initial applicants, officials honed in on Oklahoma candidates and a field of 20 finalists, Moore said.
Ariana stood out.
“I call it the ‘it’ factor,” Moore said. “She was just naturally energized and believable. She had true passion behind her expression. Her eyes told a lot, and you could just hear it in her voice.”
Stava said, “She’s just a ray of sunshine, and you can feel that when you listen to her and see her.”
Ariana has made informational videos about Gathering Place and promoted reading through the park’s Reading Tree Challenge.
“I want to encourage kids to read because it helps the imagination grow,” she said. “I love seeing the looks on kids’ faces when they see all the attractions at the Adventure Playground. It’s the best thing ever.”
The student says she thinks about the park round-the-clock.
“It’s big. It’s breathtaking, unbelievably,” Ariana said. “It’s just amazing. The best part I think is at night because the whole park is just illuminated with this pretty yellow glow.”
Her mother, Loretta, says she has tried to instill in her daughter the significance of being ambassador for about a half-billion-dollar green space.
“One day, she’s going to look back and say, ‘Oh my God, I was a part of this.’”