Stars and Stripes Park was created by a public-private partnership and dedicated to the preservation of democracy in all its forms. The park germinated from an idea for a civic project of the Oklahoma City Association of Broadcasters in 1969. Donors provided the funds to develop the park and the Parks Department provided the land and labor.
The group produced a large entertainment extravaganza called the Stars and Stripes Show to celebrate Independence Day that year, headlined by Bob Hope and included many well-known stars and music acts. With proceeds from the show and other donations, the park was dedicated on July 4. 1970 with 6,000 people in attendance. The new park featured a pavilion named in honor of the show’s host Bob Hope, and a plaza honoring President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The plaza was built on the lakeshore and featured a large star in the center surrounded by a wall featuring quotes from President Eisenhower and other notable Americans speaking on democracy. The plaza was ringed by the flags of all fifty states and a large US flag in the center. However, the feature dearest to generations of Oklahoma City children was the rocket ship slide in the playground.
Over time, the ravages of wind, rain and waves took a heavy toll on the plaza and in 2007 it received a more durable redesign. A flag design is imprinted into the floor and five stars representing Eisenhower’s Army rank were embedded where the large star once stood. The rocket was removed in 2007 after delighting children for nearly 40 years. It was replaced with a modern version in 2012.