A-Maze-Ing Thunder Fans at Shawnee Farm
It covers five acres and in some places is as high as an elephant's eye, so high that not even Kevin Durant, Nenad Krstic or Byron Mullens can see over it.
"It's up over 10 feet high in some places because of all the rain we've had," said Tom Mikles, owner of the Mikles Family Farm outside Shawnee.
"It" is the 2009 Thunder Maze, a creation grown in the shape of the Oklahoma City Thunder logo.
"We've had a lot of different themes with our mazes over the years," said Mikles (pronounced Michaels). "They've been shaped like a deer, a pumpkin, we had a tornado once. In 2007 our maze was the Oklahoma Centennial logo. This year, though, we really wanted it to look like the Thunder's logo."
Actually Mikles and his wife, Robin, were hoping to create one honoring the NBA team last year but the name and logo weren't ready in time for planting.
"We have to get the design laid out and then planted in July or it won't be ready in time," he said.
The Mikles open their farm to visitors from September through the middle of November. They are treated to hayrides, a pumpkin patch, petting zoo, campfires and a chance to see what a working farm is really like.
"The kids love it," Robin said with a big grin on her face. "Some of them from the city have never been to a real farm. We're able to show them a little bit about how crops grow."
During the week the farm allows school groups to visit. It is open to families and others visitors on weekends.
The Thunder Maze is already one of the biggest attractions and it's always getting some high flying reviews.
"We have a local pilot who's had several people ask him to fly them up over the farm so they can see the maze and take pictures of it," Tom said. "We see planes almost every day just doing lazy circles up in the sky over the farm."
From ground level it's hard to imagine how the Mikkles were able to recreate the Thunder logo as a living growing attraction.
"I use a grid system and orange paint to lay it out," he said. "It's just a big painting. You definitely have to know where you are at all times. When I finish painting the design then we plant it. Some people use corn for their mazes but around here sorghum sudan grass works best for us. It's a hybrid of hay."
Families who try to solve the puzzle of getting from one end of the maze to the other are helped along by clues. There are six different sets visitors can choose from. One of them is made up entirely of questions about the Oklahoma City Thunder.
"Most of them are pretty easy I think," Tom admitted, "at least for Thunder fans like us."
If you know who the team's leading scorer was last season, what the name of the home court is, the name of the Thunder dance team and what the team colors represent, you should navigate the maze without any problem.
"We're just so excited to have the team here," Robin said. "It has already made a big impact on Oklahoma City and the surounding area."
Tom and Robin Mikles both grew up in the country and dreamed one day of leaving the farm and moving to the city. They fantasized about a faster pace of life, climbing the corporate ladder and becoming successful business people. A funny thing happpened after they met, married and had a family. The higher they climbed on the corporate ladder they kept looking back down toward their roots, buried deep in the Oklahoma soil.
"We took our kids to a maze on a family farm outside Kansas City," Tom said. "It was like going back in time. Our kids loved it and we started dreaming about being able to go back one day and having a farm of our own; a place where kids and their parents can have a great time. Mom and dad can sit around a campfire if they want, the kids can run and play and get dirty."
Some folks are lucky when just one of their lifetime dreams come true. The Mikles have already had two and they'd like to see a third some day.
"It'd be great to see the team win a championship," Tom said, "then I could do a maze in the shape of that trophy!"
The Mikles Family Farm is just northeast of Shawnee off State Highway 18. You can learn more about the farm and get directions at www.MiklesFamilyFarm.com.