On a blustery Wednesday morning surrounded by Independence City Commissioners, Chamber Ambassadors and lovers of Sonic crushed ice, owners and managers of Sonic Drive In cut the red ribbon to mark the official opening of their new downtown location at 8th and Chestnut. Ports offered attendees assorted soft pretzels with dips and drinks while they waited for the event to begin.

Independence Chamber of Commerce President Lisa Wilson thanked Ports for brining Sonic back downtown. "You have been a Chamber member for years and years and we are so excited to have you back downtown in Independence," she said with a chuckle. "I'm sure you have already seen your profits spike because you are in closer proximity to the Chamber office, the bank offices, Main Street and the schools."

Wilson presented Ports with the Chamber member plaque and said she, and others, appreciate their reinvestment in the community and their contributions to Independence. "You are always a willing supporter," she stated. "The Chamber was involved in the gift back program you did where you gave cards for drinks for all of the school teachers to be able to get Happy Hour drinks all the time." Wilson explained the program to attendees saying how school teachers are contracted until 4 p.m. and the Sonic Happy Hour ends at 4 p.m. "They can't get here for Happy Hour," she said, continuing saying idea came from Liberal, Kan. 

"They gave all the school teachers in the district who contributed to Community Chest a card good for unlimited Happy Hour drinks all the time for 99 cents," Wilson explained. "It's a gift back and those teachers are then contributing to Community Chest and we all know most of the money that goes into Community Chest goes out to a lot of youth programs so it's a win-win for everybody. We appreciate the fact that Sonic is a partner in education in the community."

Wilson invited Ports to tell guests about the new and improved Sonic Drive In. "I have been involved in Independence [Sonic] since 1987," Ports told the crowd. "I was a whopping 21 years old and took over the management of the Sonic with Tim Linder, if you guys remember Tim." He said he ran the store for a few years and "stepped across the alley once in a while and played cards with the guys in the fire department. We had a lot of fun but I left a lot of money over there in that fire department," he said to laughter.

He mentioned the move to W. Main St. as the town seemed to be moving that way at the time. "It seemed like the thing to do but for the last 15 years anytime anyone would figure out who I was it was all 'Oh we sure miss having a Sonic downtown.' So I have been conspiring for several years to get back downtown." Ports stated work on the new location began several years ago and with the help of many people including Rick Mott, city commissioners and others, and lots of work and delays, it is now a reality. "We are excited to be here. We are excited about this location so we can be close to downtown, close to the schools and to be in the middle of everything again," he noted. "The first day we opened we already had a couple of middle school students sitting outside after school on a nice day. We were excited about that."

Ports concluded by telling those present Sonic is happy to support most projects. "We try to do something for everybody whether its a few dollars to help with something or a few cases of bottled water for the softball team, things like that, we are always happy to help."