Nice? Not a problem this year

Santa better bring a big bag to Wichita

Written by Joe Stumpe

2017 may go down as the year Wichita fully awoke from a civic slumber. From one end of the city to the other, it seemed like something cool was going on, up or down. Don't think the man up North didn't notice. Santa loves those folks who make things a little nicer for their themselves and their neighbors. Takes a little weight off the jolly old man's shoulders.

Here's Santa's (and SPLURGE!'s) Nice List for the year:

The folks at Visit Wichita, Intrust Bank Arena and everybody else who persuaded the NCAA to bring games in its Men's Basketball Championship playoff to the city. As a result, thousands of visitors will pour into Wichita this March, many for the first time. The work didn't stop with luring the tournament either. Residents have been getting the city ready as never before with physical improvements and events planned to make the event a memorable one.

Cargill. Okay, the corporate giant does pretty well with its food products and probably doesn't need much from Santa. But its decision to build a new headquarters in the heart of the city, rather than move some 850 employees to another state, looms large for Wichita's future.

Public artists. Seemingly overnight, Douglas Avenue has become a gallery of murals, mostly because artists have volunteered to share their talents on buildings up and down the city's historic thoroughfare. Kudos to building owners who let them turn those structures into canvases.

The folks at Riverfest, who continue to knock the ball out of the park with musical performers and other fun events. If anyone thinks the city's biggest annual get-together hasn't been completely reinvigorated, they're not paying attention.

Wichita State University. First, the school pulled the trigger on a huge athletic move, leaving the comfortable old Missouri Valley Conference for the more challenging, big-city feel of American Athletic Conference. Then the potential of the school's Innovation Campus started to become reality, with Airbus and others moving into the facilities. Finally, it opened new student housing on par with any in the country. There's a lot happening up on the hill.

Brewers. The city's ever-expanding microbrewery industry has done more than just give people something good to drink. The pubs have turned into gathering places for lovers of food trucks, live music, art and more.

Neighborhood boosters. Wichita is becoming a city of well-defined destinations: Douglas Avenue Design District, Commerce Street Arts District, Union Station Plaza. By banding together, their denizens are accomplishing much more than they could alone.

Developers. From new apartments on the Arkansas River to booming commercial developments on the city's east, west, south and north sides, it seems like there have never been more construction cranes in the sky than right now. The city's getting into the act in a big way, too, as it prepares to open a gorgeous new public library overlooking the river. And (we almost forgot) the new Mark Arts center at 13th and Rock.

Big hearts. When police officer Brian Arterburn was badly injured in the line of duty, residents found all kinds of ways to help. They've cheered on his recovery ever since, just one example of their willingness to never forget those in need.

There's the list, far from complete. If things keep up at this rate, Santa may need some more helpers.

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