OKLAHOMA CITY - Oklahoma City Boathouse District and community leaders honored oil-and-gas pioneer and philanthropist Aubrey McClendon, by lighting up the skyline with fireworks, Thursday.

The event included a christening of the newly named building, McClendon Whitewater Center, positioned on the water front of the Oklahoma River.

The ceremony was the culmination of the year-long effort, 'Onward & Upward' campaign, launched by the OKC Boathouse Foundation following McClendon's death in 2016.

"We think that this is a part of establishing a long-term legacy that encourages people to remember Aubrey and his bold vision," said Executive Director Mike Knopp.

The campaign was designed to raise $6 million to support youth boating scholarship programs and support boathouse foundation operations.

"The river was a ditch that we mowed three times a year before we put water back in it courtesy of MAPS," Knopp explained.

McClendon served as a chairman on the OKC Boathouse Foundation from 2006 until his passing in March 2016.

"I don't think anyone ever dreamed we would be one of the premier urban aquatic venues in the world," Knopp explained Aubrey McClendon was key in the formation and success of the district," Aubrey didn't shy away from those bold ideas...he inspired all of us to dream dream big."

Knopp, Judy Love, Bob Ross, Mike Turpen and McClendon's family christened the building with champagne on Thursday evening.

The ceremony also showcased a display of red, white and blue LED lights installed on the building, and a fireworks show.

"I think a big part of this is sharing that way of thinking to the next generation so that we can continue to push forward," Knopp said," We want to make sure that we keep those big ideas alive."

The Boathouse District is expecting to host 50,000 people throughout the weekend for the Oklahoma Regatta Festival.