Dallas Zoo Is Offering “Cheap Thrills” In January And February As Well As Dollar Day On Monday

Dallas Zoo is offering a double-doozy during the month. Thanks to its annual Penguin Days, the price of admission is $7 through the end of February. KDFW-FOX4’s Lauren Przybl admitted that it was a great time to see the residents, since the place wasn’t overly crowded with two-legged critters.

Yes, in the past Penguin Days has gone for $5, but shoot! They’ve added babies and hippos, so no wonder there’s been a slight increase. It’s still a lot cheaper that the usual $12-$15 admission price.

Dallas Zoo Penguin Days hosts (File photo)

Sean Greene (File photo)

And speaking of cheap, the second special offer is the Zoo’s semi-annual Dollar Day that takes place Monday, January 8. Dallas Zoo Guest Experience VP Sean Greene revealed the buck-eroo special on Wednesday, but the Zoo’s website hasn’t quite kept up with Sean and is just now trying to get the word out today.

In addition to the dollar entry fee, there are other cheap thrills like

  • $1 selected snack items ($1 hot dogs, chips, soda, water will be available at the Wilds of Africa Grill near the monorail)
  • $1 seed stick to feed birds in Lacerte Family Children’s Zoo
  • $2 Endangered Species Carousel
  • $2 T-Rex Express Mini-train
  • $5 Wilds of Africa Adventure Safari monorail
  • $5 giraffe feedings
  • $10 parking (limited)

The good news is that the Dallas Independent School District kiddos don’t go back to school until Tuesday. By now, they’re probably suffering from cabin fever and this is a great way to overcome the “fever.” The even better news is that weather guessers are predicting the temperatures will be hitting a “toasty 50 degrees” with sunny skies.

Since parking is limited, take DART. It will drop you off practically at the front door.

Dallas Arboretum Is Offering A “Thank You For 2017” Special In January

It’s so typical of North Texas. The temperatures slide up and down the thermometer. But in January because there’s a tendency to bundle up instead of tube topping, the Dallas Arboretum is offering a “Thank You For 2017” bargain. Here’s the scoop on the special price:

The 12 Days Of Christmas (File photo)

Instead of the usual $10-$15 admission, the fee is a measly $5 each day for the whole month! Why not take them up on the offer before the 12 Days of Christmas and the 100+ Nutcrackers in the DeGolyer House go on hiatus starting Sunday, January 7? BTW, many of the Nutcrackers are from the collection of the late Rosemary Thornton Brinegar, whose daughter Mary Brinegar is the Arboretum’s CEO/president.

The grounds are the perfect spot to start that brisk walking program that you promised yourself to shed the holiday pounds.

And what about checking out A Tasteful Place? There are indoor activities including daily tastings, classes and demonstration.

Caveat: The Rory Meyers Children Adventure Garden is closed for its annual maintenance. BTW, the $5 does not include parking.  

MSC Holiday Plans: Elves Hunkering Down With Relatives; Elder Elf Holding Down The Fort; Queenie Having Her Wrinkles Ironed


With Santa preparing to make his rounds and spanxing his way down chimneys throughout the land, the MySweetCharity elves have put together their annual holiday playlist that will kick off Christmas Eve.

The elves themselves will be joining their relatives (faeries, leprechauns, pixies, sprites and brownies) for their holiday celebration at the North Pole. Since Mr. and Mrs. Claus are going to be on the sunny beaches of David Copperfield’s Musha Cay, the North Pole elves will be in charge of the festivities. They’ve already put everyone on noticed that cellphones are be left at the front door, so there will be no distractions.

After playing “Pin the Horn on the Unicorn,” “Blindman’s Mistletoe” and “Invisible Jenga,” all will settle down to a revolving round table for a feast of s’mores, cotton candy and cocoa. The nectar provided by British Black honeybee queen will only be available to those guests who are older than the hills.

As they head for bed, they will find personalized footed jammies lined in Shea butter, duvets filled with down donated by Queen Elizabeth II’s swans and pillows that play tunes guaranteed to create sweet dreams.

As for Queenie, she’ll return to her age-fighting cocoon and grumble about the week only having seven days. She’s still lobbying for an eight-day week and a 30-hour day.

But if something happens that affects the MSC community, not to worry. Elder Elf volunteered to stay at the headquarters just in case any news breaks. He did make one request — “Because we have had so many losses and discord this year, I hope this song will make us all appreciate our blessings.”


National Philanthropy Day Awards Luncheon Guests May Want To Rethink Their Route Friday

Those planning to attend the National Philanthropy Day Awards Luncheon at the Hyatt Regency on Friday might want consider taking a different route to the event or getting an earlier start. Why? Because despite Veteran’s Day officially being on Saturday, the Greater Dallas Veterans Day Parade honoring vets starts at 11 with streets in the area being blocked off just as guests arrive for the luncheon.

2017 Dallas Veterans Day Parade Route*

On the other hand, if you don’t have plans, why not check out the parade honoring the men and women, who have served this country?

*Graphic courtesy of Greater Dallas Veterans Day Parade

Now Is The Time To Rise And Shine

For longer than anyone can remember, there’s seemed to be a competition between two of Texas’ siblings. The Gulf Coast boasted having one of the largest cities in the nation, the world’s most ginormous oil companies and a shoreline. North Texas laid claim to having more Super Bowl rings, a TV series called “Dallas” and the birthplace of Neiman Marcus. Both have proved to be the comeback kids. Houston rebounded from oil busts, and Dallas recovered from a presidential assassination and the Ebola virus.

In recent time when it came to weather, North Texas trumped the competition with the 2011 Super Bowl ice storm.

But be honest! Thanks to Hurricane Harvey, the Gulf Coast has won the weather woes category. This epic situation has totally redefined the word “devastation.”

(Above video courtesy of WFAA-TV)

People who have prided themselves on paying their bills have suddenly found themselves without homes. Their children, who were to start school this week, are now without even uniforms, let alone classrooms. The elderly and disabled, who have depended on others, have found themselves alone through no fault of their caretakers. Family pets that were so dependent upon their human companions are being turned in or sadly lost.

This situation has provided North Texas with a time to rise and shine. Over the years, North Texas has been known for philanthropy and generosity thanks to its residents. But now it has the chance to open its arms and provide for the hundreds thousands of evacuees seeking help, comfort and hope. Some will call North Texas home only temporarily; others will become our neighbors.

This morning when you wake up in the comfort of your snugly bed, have a warm shower and enjoy that drive to Starbucks for coffee with a blue sky above, consider those who have had to take an ax to the roof of their house to survive, who haven’t been dry in days, who have no idea if they’ll have anything to return to, and who have children asking unanswerable questions.

Luckily, this is Texas and its resilience is legendary with good reason. Thanks to Harvey, it will once again prove true.

If you’re stepping up and making a donation in any form, please make sure that the money will be used for North Texas efforts by a reputable group. Unfortunately, during these situations, there are some who just might take advantage of the kindness of others.

Weather Forecasters Predict Some Cooler-Than-Usual Days For The Dallas Arboretum’s August Dollar Days

It’s only the third day of August and the temperature is barely going to hit 90 degrees thanks to clouds. Really? Yup! And the next few days are going to be repeats with off-and-on rain. Why the weather forecasting? Because the timing couldn’t be better to take full advantage of the Dallas Arboretum’s August Dollar Days.

Crape Myrtle Allee (File photo)

Talk about an Arboretum Prime Month! Admission to the 66-acre grounds is a buck. And even the entry fee to the Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden is a dollar. But wait! It only gets better. The usual $8-$15 for parking is dropped to $5. Sodas, juice and frozen pops will be a $1. Hotdogs and root beer floats will be $2. And for $4 you can get a sundae.

Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden’s Pergola Shade Structure (File photo)

If you’ve been putting off a stroll through the grounds or schmoozing with the squirrels because you were on a killer budget, skip dessert or that latte and you’ll take in one of North Texas’ true treasure.

Who knows? You just find it to your liking that you’ll buy a membership that will allow you to free year-round general garden admission, free parking, express entry during major events and other perks.

August Dollar Days is being made possible thanks to Presenting Sponsor Reliant.

Dallas Zoo Residents Are Ready For A Herd Of Visitors For Thursday’s Dollar Day! Special

The Dallas Zoo folks snuck up on a lot of folks. Instead of waiting until August scorches the area, they’re holding the infamous Dollar Day! this Thursday. That’s a $14 saving for adults and a $11 saving for youths and seniors.

Not only is admission going to be a dollar, but the following will be available for a buck each:

  • selected snack items (canned drinks, water, hot dogs and chips)
  • nectar to feed the lorikeets
  • bird food at the Travis and Zach’s Birds Landing

Giraffe (File photo)

And if you want to splurge and look like a big spender, here are some other bargains for this one-day-only special:

  • $2 T-Rex Express mini-train
  • $5 Wilds of Africa Adventure Safari monorail
  • $5 giraffe feedings (and, yes, the giraffes do have long black tongues)

Since parking is going to be $8 and traffic is expected to be limited, try out the DART Red Line.

Hippopotamus (File photo)

BTW, prepare yourself for the Simmons Hippo Outpost. These two are more fun than a barrel full of monkeys.

BTW, don’t forget the sunscreen, sunglasses and cameras.

A Passing: “The Exorcist” Author William Peter Blatty, Multiple Myeloma And A Long Ago Story About A Dallas Encounter


Today CancerBlows Co-Founders Niki and Ryan Anthony were meeting with CancerBlows Co-Chairs D’Andra Simmons Lock and Anne Stodghill and a production crew from around the country for the upcoming May 8-10th multiple myeloma fundraiser at the Meyerson. (More about that in the days to come.)

While they were finalizing plans for the event that will have the world’s greatest horn players perform to support research and treatments about the disease that struck Ryan, multiple myeloma proved just how deadly it is. Academy Award-winning screenwriter/acclaimed author of “The Exorcist” William Peter Blatty died the day before as a result of the blood cancer.

Blatty’s death recalled an incident that took place in Dallas back in 1973. A very young and green society writer at The Dallas Morning News was assigned to cover a party hosted by Polly and Dick Hitt and Jeanne and Jim Butler for a novelist named William Peter Blatty. In a Google-less world, she wandered the newsroom asking reporters if they had ever heard of Blatty. All she got were shrugs. Well, there was one writer who said he thought the guy had written about teddy bears.

So, off the society writer went to the party at a mansion on Preston Road, where she encountered all types of local celebs like KVIL’s Ron Chapman and Hugh Lampman and Bettie and Fairmont Hotel General Manager Julian Abio. Once again, she asked, “Have you heard of William Peter Blatty?” Again, the responses were shrugs and side-shaking of heads.

Wandering into a small sitting room, she found a man seated in a chair whom she didn’t know. After exchanging “Hellos,” she again asked him if he knew of William Peter Blatty. He responded, “As a matter of fact I do. He wrote a book called ‘The Exorcist.’” Innocently, she asked if he had read it. He nodded. She followed that up with, “Is it any good?” He said he thought so.

She was on a roll and asked if her new friend could point Blatty out. He then aimed his index finger at his chest.

She smiled and they both laughed.

Now, having experienced the most awkward moment that could possibly happen in their relationship, she said, “Do you know that you look yellow? Is it the lighting or are you wearing some kind of makeup?” He said he hadn’t been feeling all that great and appreciated her concern.

After a few minutes, she departed.

The next day the society writer received a call from host Jim Butler saying that after she had left the party, Blatty had been taken to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with hepatitis. “He keeps asking for you,” Butler said.

Over the next few months, the movie version was released and the phone calls between the society writer and Blatty continued. He would talk about his life and how the movie’s popularity had been both flattering and weird. After she had seen the movie, she acted like a movie expert and wondered if it would have been better done in black and white. He laughed and said that he had lobbied for that, but the director and money people were totally opposed to that idea.

While staying in Colorado, Blatty called and insisted that the writer come to Colorado to meet his mother, Mary Blatty. He had spoken of his mother often and had told her about the writer. Bill just knew the two ladies would hit it off. The writer suggested that Blatty put Mary on the phone, so they could chat.

It was then that the relationship took a definite “exorcist” turn. He couldn’t put his mother on the phone. She had died in 1967. It was the last time the reporter and Blatty would talk.

MySweetWishList Series Ramps Up In Hopes Of Local Santas Coming Through

Santa (File photo)

With Christmas just days away, the wishes have been flooding in for the MySweetWishList series. There’s a request for volunteers. There’s one asking for $25 for a new pair of shoes for a child. And there’s another one that hopes for a Christmas tree for a family.

So to try to get the wishes known before Sunday; we’ll be doubling and tripling up on ’em. Why not take the opportunity to check them out. Who knows? You may just find a wish that you can help Santa grant.

Have the Dallas Zoo Penguins Got A Deal For The Thrifty-Minded Critter Watchers

Evidently El Nino is playing rollercoaster with temperatures and rain. Pity the poor Dallas Zoo penguins. One day they’re happy as can be with the chill and wet stuff. The next day they’re slathering on sunscreen.

Jazz the African Penguin*

Jazz the African Penguin*

But don’t feel too sorry for them because the Dallas Zoo has kicked off its Penguin Days special in honor of the formal-feathered birds. Until 4 p.m. on Leap Day … yup, there will be a February 29 in 2016… admission is a mere $5 per person.

Now, that’s a big deal bargain. It’s way more than 50% off for kids and seniors (normally $12). As for adults, it’s only an itty-bitty one-third of the normal admission ($15).

Sure, the parking is still $8, but the penguins can only do so much. Who knows? This might be the perfect opportunity to try out the DART Red Line. It takes you straight to the Dallas Zoo Station.

* Photo courtesy of the Dallas Zoo

Be Forewarned: The Dallas Marathon Approaches

This weekend there’ll be a lot of stuff going on like shopping, partying and decorating. But be forewarned. A couple of thangs may cause some rethinking of plans. Saturday is supposed to have some of the rainy stuff be in the air with thunder bumpers included here and there. So, stash that adorable umbrella in the car.

Ah, but then Sunday morning is the clincher. It’s the annual Dallas Marathon (formerly known as the White Rock Marathon). For runners, it’s the biggy run-fest of the year. For folks trying to make it to morning church services or brunch dates, it’s the biggy headache of the year. So, prevent the migraine by checking which roads will be blocked and make backup plans.

And keep in mind that funds raised from the run go to Texas Scottish Rite Hospital and partners with all types of charities.

But then if you just want to snooze away the morning and channel the run, turn on WFAA8 ABC to watch the activities.

Friday’s Predicted Rains Change Arrival Plans For Dallas Women’s Foundation Luncheon And Dallas Opera’s First Night

Mother Nature's tears

Mother Nature’s tears

The rains are coming and Friday is looking pretty darn soggy. At least that’s what the weather experts are saying. While some of Friday night’s high school football games are being rescheduled for tonight, the fundraisers are also arranging for the umbrella-friendly stuff.

The Dallas Women’s Foundation’s Lunch organizers decided the VIP valet would be vastly better at the Chantilly and Tower entrances instead of the Jade entrance. After all the Chantilly and Tower entrances are more accommodating to guests making their way from vehicle to door in the rain. And, yes, there will also be complimentary self-parking. But if you do that, don’t forget your umbrella and remember to puddle hop.

Dallas Women's Foundation 30th Annual Luncheon*

Dallas Women’s Foundation 30th Annual Luncheon*

Model and Elizabeth Anyaa

Model and Elizabeth Anyaa

The Dallas Opera’s First Night red carpet parade that usually goes from the Flora curb to the Winspear front door has been rethought. After all, you can’t have all those ultra-fabulous gowns being dragged through the mini-ponds. According to the Dallas Opera braintrust, First Night guests will discover the valets in the Winspear’s underground garage. Then they (the guests, not the valets) will take the elevators up to the ground level, where the red carpet will be held in the tent. The models wearing the creations by Geoffrey Henning (Great Scot), Khanh Nguyen (Tosca), Ed Popken (Becoming Santa Claus), Elizabeth Anyaa (Manon) and Michael Faircloth (Show Boat) will be on stages in the Winspear lobby for the reception.

Is there anything better than a rain backup plan? Yup, no need for a rain backup plan.

* Graphic provided by Dallas Women's Foundation

MySweetCharity Policy Announcement: Only Nets To Be Accepted



Queenie arrived with an entourage this morning all huffy. Not the entourage. They’re nice elves, unicorns and angelfish. Queenie looked at the Elder Elf and handed him a freshly laid egg.

The old elf thanked her and asked her, “How am I to interpret this item, O Mighty One Who Makes My Eyes Water?”

With her painfully perfect posture, the old gal said, “When we receive gushing information about funds raised for nonprofits, it is like the egg.”

With wrinkled brow, EE pushed the issue: “And why is fundraising information like an egg, Oh One Who Makes Me Wonder Why I Showed Up For Work?”

With a weary tone in her voice, she replied, “I gave you an egg. You don’t know what it contains until the egg is cracked and the results are shown. A baby duck. A baby crocodile. So, it goes with the flood of releases boasting how much has been raised. But after the expenses are tallied, the question is how much actually went to the beneficiary?”

Leaning over to EE, Queenie whispered, “I happen to know of a group or two that have claimed to have raised incredible amounts for charities, but after the expenses were counted. . . well, honey, I can tell you that a garage sale would have been more beneficial.”

Pulling out his quill pen, the aged elf, who has been in the same position before countless times, prepared to write the latest entry in the MySweetCharity book of rules.

Queenie harrumphed herself, sat on her double-cushioned throne and waved her scepter — “From this point on, we shall only post news about the net amount that will be handed over to the charity/nonprofit.”

Break With The Usual: Cogill’s Oscar Hints

Shelley Slater and Clay Huffstutter

Shelley Slater and Clay Huffstutter

Owen Wilson and Alan Peppard

Owen Wilson and Alan Peppard

Tonight while the Junior Leaguers were partying at the Anatole in a pretty impressive setting and some head-turning types like WFAA-TV’s Shelly Slater and the “mindful set” was at The Joule for the Aging Minds Foundation with Owen Wilson and Laura Wilson in a tribute to Bob Wilson, there were folks who were hunkering down in the jammies trying to figure out who was going to win an Academy Award Sunday night.

Gary Cogill and Hayley Hamilton Cogill

Gary Cogill and Hayley Hamilton Cogill

We’re going to get ahead of our usual schedule and share with you the inside poop provided by Dallas film mind trust Gary Cogill. He gave his predictions at Dallas Uncorked on Sunday, February 8, so he might have changed his mind by now. Well, maybe. But here are his thoughts on who will be taking home little gold statue just in case you are preparing for an Oscar party.

Cogill’s Oscar picks:
• Best original song: Song from “Selma” by John Legend
• Best supporting actress: Patricia Arquette for “Boyhood”
• Best supporting actor: J.K. Simmons in “Whiplash”
• Best actress: Julianne Moore in “Still Alice”
• Best actor: Michael Keaton in “Birdman”
• Best movie: A tie between “Boyhood” or “Birdman”

Ah, come on. Football lovers have the Super Bowl. Film lovers have the Academy Awards.
Pass the popcorn and fantasize about having a screener for next year’s nominees.