32nd Annual National Philanthropy Day Awards Luncheon Carried On Despite Coinciding With Veterans Day Parade And A Couple Of Hiccups

When the Association of Fundraising Professionals of Greater Dallas scheduled its  32nd Annual National Philanthropy Day Awards Luncheon for Friday, November 10, at the Hyatt Regency, it was all systems-go without a hitch in sight.

However, just weeks before the big award presentation the Veterans Day Parade leadership announced that instead of holding the parade on Veterans Day (Saturday, November 11), it would be held the day before (aka Friday, November 10). Still that shouldn’t have been a problem. But then the route was presented with the starting point across the Reunion Boulevard from the Hyatt in Reunion Park. To add pepper to the mix, the parade’s start time coincided with the arrival of the philanthropists for lunch.

But wait! It got more tangled up. Like the date and place being on the calendar for months for the awards luncheon, so was Scott Murray. It was a no brainer, since Scott and his company Murray Media have been heavily involved with the program for years. But for Scott it was going to be a busy weekend because he had promised to be part of the parade that he thought would be on Saturday. Then when the parade was literally moved to Friday, Scott had a bit of a predicament — How to be in two places at the same time? But the parade organizers promised him that his part in the parade would be over by the time he was needed at the luncheon and they would get him there.


Micah Pinson

While Scott was with the vets parading, the pre-luncheon reception carried on with a cute red-haired chap charming one and all. It was 13-year-old Outstanding Youth In Philanthropy Micah Pinson. He was right at home with people like Gae Whitener, Karen Waller, Jay McCauley, Deborah Montonen, Doug Hawthorne, Brent Christopher, Katherine Krausse, Chris Culak, Kathleen Gibson, fellow awardees like Outstanding Philanthropists Sandra and Henry Estess, Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser Lynn McBee, Outstanding Foundation representatives Julie and Ken Hersh, Outstanding Fundraising Executive Pagett Gosslee and the Terry Simmons family (Karen, Jordan, Adam and Shannon Simmons) on hand to receive the Special Recognition Award for the late attorney.

Meagan Burton, Ken and Julie Hersh, Karen Simmons, Pagett Gosslee, Mica Pinson, Lynn McBee, Kevin Hurst, Sandra and Henry Estess and Mary Freeman

Becky Sykes

Doug Hawthorne

Katherine Wagner

Following a group photo, the VIP types joined the rest of the guests like Jamie Williams, Katherine Wagner, Frank Risch, Becky Bright, Kit Sawers, Mimi Sterling, Jody Grant and Michael George, in the Landmark Ballroom. However, a couple of the folks were doing the swivel head searching the room. Kevin Hurst was looking for Neiman’s President/CEO Karen Katz. He was hoping that her busy schedule would allow her to accept the award for the Outstanding Corporation. No problem. Karen was there along with NM Downtown GM Tim Adair.

Tim Adair, Karen Katz and Kevin Hurst

Doug Murray and Carole and Scott Murray

On the other hand, Carole Murray, as well as National

Philanthropy Day Chair Meagan Burton, was trying to find out what Scott’s status was. Just minutes before the noon start, Scott arrived looking like a kid who had the time of his life. He explained that despite the Veterans Day program had run longer than planned, the organizers assured him that they would get him to the Hyatt on time. And they did complete with Scott being driven through the crowds with a police escort complete with lights flashing and sirens blaring.

Following the presentation of the flags, Donte Ford’s providing the invocation, luncheon and remarks by Greater Dallas Chapter AFP President Mary Freeman and South Texas Money Management CEO/Chief Investment Officer Jeanie Wyatt, AFP International Interim President/CEO Jason Lee admitted that due to the recent hurricanes there was a concern about donor fatigue?” His answer was positive — Despite the division within the country, philanthropy is something that can bring all together.

Then it was time for the presentation of awards in which the recipient tape their acceptance speeches ahead of time, so there are no “I’m going to go off script” hiccups.

However, there were hiccups. When Scott introduced the video for Sandra and Henry Estess, all eyes turned to the mammoth screens. Nothing happened. And nothing continued to happen, except Scott’s looking back at the production table. Finally, the video appeared.

The rest of the videos went up perfectly until 1:11 p.m. when foster mother and past Philanthropy Day Chair Pagett Gosslee’s video was to be shown for the Outstanding Fundraising Executive. Instead of the attractive brunette, it was red-haired Micah on the screen. Scott could be heard telling the production table that they had the wrong one showing. The screen went dark and immediately Pagett was accepting her award.

Next up was Micah, who had been born without three finders and had become a patient at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital at the age of six. The next year he decided he launched “Helping Hands One Step At A Time” to give back.

After he received his award, Scott asked him what he wanted to be when he was older. Micah didn’t hesitate. He wanted to be a sport agent because he “likes people and want to make money.” When asked who was his hero, Micah said, “My Dad. He’s always been there for me.” With a little nudging from Scott, Micah added that he liked his mom, too.

Scott then told Micah that he was going to have him on “The Scott Murray Show” the following Sunday on KLIF.

For a look at more of the people at the luncheon, check MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

A Gentle Reminder: Over The Years Thanksgiving Day’s Has Been The Occasion To Show Gratitude And “Heal The Wounds Of The Nation”

According to tradition, Thanksgiving was a coming together of two people of different backgrounds, cultures and beliefs in 1621. So the story goes that on this occasion, the Plymouth colonists only survived their first year in the new world thanks to the Native Americans teaching them how to grow food and weather the harsh conditions. To celebrate and show their gratitude, the Pilgrims feasted with the Wampanoag tribe on the autumn harvest for three days.

Over the years similar occasions would be held in the young country as it grew in territory and population. It wasn’t until 1827 that the author of “Mary Had a Little Lamb” Sarah Joseph Hale undertook a 36-year campaign to have Thanksgiving declared a national holiday.

Finally in 1863 when the country was suffering through the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln officially designated the final Thursday in November to be Thanksgiving Day. His hope was to “commend to his (God’s) tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners and sufferers in the lamentable civil strife” and to “heal the wounds of the nation.”

However, that date changed during the Depression when President Franklin Roosevelt moved the holiday up a week to encourage additional shopping.

Dinner table (File photo)

Today, Thanksgiving has turned into a day of feasting, parades and football with families and friends. But its roots still hold true — to show gratitude regardless of differences and “heal the wounds of the nation.”

Grovel Alert: Breakfast With Santa

Breakfast with Santa*

Thanks to Toyota, the Dallas Holiday Parade will commence on at 10 a.m. Saturday, December 2, in downtown Dallas. And what better way to kick off the celebration than to have breakfast with the man of the season — Santa Claus.

The Women’s Auxiliary of Children’s Medical Center Dallas have connections with North Pole types and have arranged for the ho-hoing whiskered fellow at the Adolphus at 8:30 a.m. for the 29th Annual Breakfast with Santa.

In addition to delicious breakfast just before the parade starts in front of the Adolphus, there will be face painting, balloon artists, clowns, magicians, character appearances and so much more. Sorry, but Rudolph won’t make it. Seems he has an early morning workout to prepare for his Christmas Eve romp.

So, before basting that turkey, gobble up some of the last remaining tickets for your kids and grandkids. Tickets are available here!

* Photo provided by Women's Auxiliary of Children's Medical Center Dallas

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

MySweetCharity Summer Pitch: 2017 Parade Of Playhouses

According to Dallas CASA Board Chair John Gibson,

John Gibson*

Looking for a cool way to run off some of your children’s energy while also helping a good cause? Grab your kids and head to Dallas CASA’s Parade of Playhouses July 7 through 23 at NorthPark Center.

With 14 perfectly pint-sized playhouses decorating the halls of NorthPark, Parade of Playhouses is the perfect way to let your kids’ imaginations go wild while also learning about children in our community who need help.

For 22 years, NorthPark Center has played host to the playhouses, which are donated by local builders, designers and corporations and available to win through raffle at the end of the 17-day event. What child doesn’t want to imagine his or her own miniature house? This year’s designs include a house in the image of an owl, an activity house with a climbing wall and even a house shaped like a cuckoo clock. House designers and builders pour skill, creativity and love into these unusual creations.

The event benefits Dallas CASA, a nonprofit that provides volunteer advocates for abused and neglected children navigating the child welfare system. Walking the corridors and viewing the playhouses is a great way to start a conversation with your own kids about those in our community who are less fortunate. Children in the child welfare system don’t dare dream of a playhouse with all the bells and whistles. They dream of safe and permanent homes where they are loved.

2017 Parade of Playhouses*

Dallas CASA’s Parade of Playhouses is open until Sunday, July 23, during NorthPark’s hours. Viewing the playhouses is free and raffle tickets to win a playhouses are available for $5 each or five for $20.

All proceeds from the raffle ticket sales help Dallas CASA provide more children with advocates to serve them. For Dallas CASA, Parade of Playhouses has also become a key recruiting and community awareness event. Tables throughout NorthPark are staffed with volunteer advocates and other supporters who can tell you about becoming a volunteer advocate for abused children.

In fact, Parade of Playhouses might be the beginning of something for you to do after summer, too. A training class for volunteer advocates begins Sept. 6, right after the kids go back to school. The first step to becoming a volunteer advocate is attending an information session.

Maybe it’s your turn to dream not about a tiny house but about helping make the world a better place one child at a time.

* Graphic and photo provided by Dallas CASA

22nd Annual Parade Of Playhouses Is Polished Up And Rocking At NorthPark Center For Dallas CASA

Craig Beneke

It was just a couple of weeks ago in June that af architecture and fabrication’s Craig Beneke got a shout out from one of his 21-year-old twin daughters. It wasn’t for a new car. It wasn’t for a loan. It was for a house. No, not a 2,000-square-foot bungalow in the M Street hood. It was for a playhouse. She wasn’t reverting back to her childhood. Rather, she was hoping that her dad could provide a playhouse for Dallas CASA’s 22nd Annual Parade of Playhouses at NorthPark.

It seems one of the originally signed-up builders had bailed, and there was a need to fill a spot for the annual Dallas CASA fundraiser that would run from Saturday, July 8 through Sunday, July 23.

Playhouse Rock cowbell on a construction work belt

Playhouse Rock sound tubes

Playhouse Rock floor

Not only did Papa Craig answer the call-to-deliver, but he literally hit the nail on the head.  His Playhouse Rock was a musical marvel that would please anyone from Jaap to Jay-Z with a mini-xylophone built into the floor complete with mallets for playing and an assortment of others goodies — rain stick, triangle, sound tubes, etc. There were personal touches, too. For instance, the front door’s cowbell is suspended by his construction work belt.

But being a perfectionist, Craig was eyeballing the hand prints left from the move-in on Thursday, July 6. He was going to do some touch-up, so his Playhouse Rock would be perfect.

Whimsical Cottage

A few playhouses away, Doug Beaty of Beach Sheet Metal was sharing Craig’s dilemma about prints. It seems that the Whimsical Cottage’s copper roof was a fingerprint magnet. Last year, he arrived daily to polish the roof, so it was spotless. He expected to do the same this year. When someone offered to post a sign dissuading people from touching, he scoffed at the idea. He relished the idea that little ones and their parents couldn’t resist touching the shiny roof.   


Paw Rescue

The White Owl’s Den

But those are just two of the 11 playhouses on display. Some have rock walls; some are so cozy; some have interior lighting; some are open and breezy. But they all will be raffled off at 4 p.m. on Sunday, July 23, in NorthPark’s North Court to support Dallas CASA’s mission “to advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children, helping these children gain safe, permanent homes as quickly as possible.” If you’re unable to check out the houses, you can still buy your raffle ticket here. They’re going for $5 each or five for $20.

Also, the builders are all vying to claim the title of “Favorite Playhouse.” You can vote by texting dallascasa to 41444. BTW, each vote costs $5.

Check out the Parade of Playhouses at MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

MySweetCharity Photo Gallery Alert: 22nd Annual Parade Of Playhouses

Playhouse Rock

The White Owl’s Den

The 22nd Annual Parade of Playhouses started its march this past weekend through NorthPark Center to fund Dallas CASA, come rain or shine. One of the adorable mini-mansions didn’t even exist until a couple of weeks ago, and it came about thanks to a daughter’s call to a dad. And, boy, did pop come through!

Paw Rescue

Whimsical Cottage

Before heading over to NorthPark to see them up close and personally to examine the detail and craftmanship, check out the 11 houses at MySweetCharity Photo Gallery. But you’d better hustle, because they’ll be raffled off on Sunday, July 23.

Cowbell on a construction work belt

Cottage light

In the meantime, the post about the dad is being finalized. Stay tuned.

A Human’s Holiday Celebration Is A Pet’s Night Of Fear And Anxiety

This Fourth of July promises to have clear skies just perfect for firework displays throughout the North Texas area. Why you may not even have to leave your mansion to hear the ka-booms and see the flashes overhead.

Anxious pooch (File photo)

But while such a sight is breathtaking and all in the best spirit, the sounds and sights can be devastating for some… like pets.

According to Lost Dogs of America, more dogs “run away from home over the Fourth of July holiday than any other.” 

Here are some tips to prepare for that “just in case” situation:

  • Make sure your pet is microchipped and, most importantly, that its registration is current.
  • Do not take your pet to Fourth of July festivities.
  • Take your dog for a walk during the day. The cat doesn’t need to take a stroll.
  • If you’re set on taking the pooch to a parade, remember the pavement is going to be hot. So, walk and have them sit on a grassy spot and bring along some water. You may not get thirsty, but you’re not wearing a fur coat.
  • Secure them in an indoor crate with the TV and/or music playing, preferably in a room with window shades down.
  • The ASPCA has provided a free app to help you locate your pet, just in case the night results in their running away from home.
  • Ask your vet for advice specifically on how to deal with your animal companion’s anxiety.

BTW, have a current photo of your pet? Even if you don’t have a camera, you can take a cellphone picture. It will be vital if your pet does make a mad dash, so that you can immediately post on social media as well as distribute handouts.

MySweetCharity Summer Pitch: Dallas Heritage Village

Melissa Prycer*

According to Dallas Heritage Village President and Executive Director Melissa Prycer,

If you have never visited Dallas Heritage Village, Old Fashioned Fourth is a perfect occasion to pack a picnic lunch and bring the family! In fact, for many North Texas families, this annual event has become a tradition. Not only can you enjoy all of the fun fourth activities, the Village’s historic buildings will be open for touring, and costumed interpreters will be on hand to visit about what life in North Texas from 1840 to 1910.  Dallas Heritage Village, one of only five nationally accredited museums in the Dallas area, showcases a Victorian Main Street, a railroad complex, a log cabin, a pre-Civil war home, an 1860’s farmstead with livestock, a 19th century church, schoolhouse and more. 

Dallas Heritage Village*

On this special holiday, families decked out in red, white, and blue, begin coming into the gates around 10 a.m. with picnic baskets, bikes, and little red wagons to spend the day making memories together. The event runs until 3 p.m. with the highlight being the patriotic parade at noon.

Dallas Heritage Village*

In this parade the kids are the stars! However, don’t tell our Mammoth Jack Donkeys that – each year they lead the parade and like to think it’s all about them. For many years Nip and Tuck have led the parade, but they have now relinquished that duty to the young newcomers – brothers Willie and Waylon. Nip and Tuck are OK with that, but they hope you will stop by and take your patriotic pictures with them so they won’t feel left out!  And don’t forget to say hi to the sheep. They tend to get their feelings hurt with all the fuss over those donkeys.

Dallas Heritage Village*

Before marching in the parade, come by the craft station and decorate your bikes, wagons, and even yourself with patriotic items we will provide at no cost. Our Dallas Junior Historians will be hosting the annual carnival again this year, and we encourage you to bring a little extra change to participate – 25 cents for each game or 5 games for a dollar. Games include our famous stick pony race for ages 3-11, “go fishing” for prizes, and bean bag toss. And it wouldn’t be Old Fashioned Fourth without checkers games (stations will be set up to play), horseshoes and graces, as well as a July 4th craft – painting fireworks with cardboard tubes and making Uncle Sam with Popsicle sticks! This year’s guests will also be able to get sneak peek at our exciting new early childhood learning space, which will have a grand opening in September.

Dallas Heritage Village*

Dallas Heritage Village is located in the heart of the booming Cedars area at 1515 S. Harwood, Dallas, 75215, near urban living and restaurants and the popular Dallas Farmer’s Market complex. Admission for Old Fashioned Fourth is $5 for ages 13 and older. Those 12 and under are free. Tickets can be purchased at the gate.  Visit dallasheritagevillage.org or call 214.421.5141 for more information! We look forward to seeing you soon!

* Photo provided by Dallas Heritage Village

JUST IN: Annual Downtown Holiday Parade Is Looking For A New Host

UPDATE: The Adolphus Hotel that was one of the original sponsors of the mega-holiday festivities has signed up for the 2017 parade. Don’t you just know that Santa will have plush digs the night before.

The annual parade that marches through downtown Dallas in early December has had some “adjustments.” In recent year’s Children’s Health has hosted the parade. Out of the past five years, it’s had to be canceled twice (2013 and 2016) due to inclement weather. Describing it as “inclement” is like saying the summer is North Texas is warmish.

Children’s Health Holiday Parade (File photo)

It was just announced that Children’s Health would not be the official host of the event. According to Children’s Health spokesperson Scott Summerall, “After hosting the parade for nearly three decades, we have decided to move forward with other new and meaningful ways to bring cheer to families in our community this holiday season. We are considering ways to celebrate and honor the parade’s history in its 30th year, but are still ironing out details of a potential event. We will continue hosting the other treasured holiday events across our system, including the annual Holiday Tree Lighting at our Dallas and Plano campuses, Breakfast with Santa with the Women’s Auxiliary, and our Holiday Patient Party for families in the hospital. These events are beloved by our patients, families and team members, and are an important component of fulfilling our mission to make life better for children.”

But don’t go thinking that the parade is a goner. According to a report on WFAA at noon, THE Dance Director Jeffrey Giles and former Parade Director Cassie Collins “have filed a permit with the City of Dallas to host the parade, and will be reaching out to sponsors soon.”

BTW, over the years the parade has had such corporations as Southwest Airlines, Neiman Marcus and the Adolphus Hotel provide major support.

A Gentle Reminder: Greenville Avenue’s St. Patrick’s Day Run/Walk, Parade And Festival To Take Place This Saturday

2017 Dallas St. Patrick’s Parade and Festival map**

While St. Patrick’s Day is still a week away, the Dallas St. Patrick’s Day Parade And Festival will take place this Saturday along Greenville Avenue benefiting the Greenville Avenue Area Business Association.

2017 St. Paddy’s Day Dash Down Greenville 5K*

But before the parade kicks off at 11 a.m., the 22nd Annual St. Paddy’s Day Dash Down Greenville will start at 8 a.m. Organizers are predicting 5,000 participants will run/walk the 5K down “the St. Patrick’s Day parade route, tree-lined Southwestern Blvd., Skillman and University Blvd.,” benefiting the North Texas Food Bank.

Hopefully, all the runners/walkers will be across the finish line before the parade’s floats hit the avenue.

St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival (File photo)

Now, some suggestions:

  • Barriers and other preparations for the run and parade will start showing up Friday afternoon. So, it might be wise to run those errands today and early tomorrow. Be forewarned: Some stores like Office Depot along Greenville might be closed Saturday during the parade.
  • Weather guessers are claiming that Saturday morning may be damp-ish, so if you’re gonna be among the 100,000+ spectators, you might want to bring along a slicker or umbrella.
  • Take DART to the Greenville station because parking is going to be painfully limited.
  • If you decide to linger into the afternoon and night enjoying the adult libations, reconsider driving yourself home. No matter how responsible you may think you are, you’ll be much more so by having Uber or another professional service drive you home.
*Graphic courtesy of Dallas St. Patrick's Day Parade and Festival 
** Graphic courtesy of St. Paddy's Day Dash Down Greenville 5k

Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebrations Extend From Friday To Holiday Monday

Another federal holiday will have banks, government offices and most schools closed Monday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. But there is so much going on to celebrate the late civil rights leader. Here’s just a smattering of the events for your consideration:

  • FRIDAY, JANUARY 13 — Presented by Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP, the MLK Jr. Oratory Competition takes place at the Majestic Theatre from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. It features fourth- and fifth-graders delivering three- to five-minutes original speeches. It’s free, but registration is necessary.
  • SATURDAY, JANUARY 14 — The 35th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Award Gala will get underway at the Fairmont Hotel with doors opening at 5:30 p.m. and featuring Dr. Walter M. Kimbrough and special guests Laila Muhammad and Yolonda Williams. The Afterglow Event will follow the gala. Individual tickets are going for $85 for the gala and $20 for Afterglow Event.
  • MONDAY, JANUARY 16 — The 2017 MLK Day Parade begins at 10 a.m. at the intersection of MLK Boulevard and Holmes Street. It’s free for the viewing. Let’s hope the rain dries up in time for the bands to strut their stuff.
  • The 2017 MLK Symposium*

    MONDAY, JANUARY 16 — Presented by BaylorScott&White, the 12th Annual MLK Symposium: MLK’s Legacy: Issues of Social Justice in the 21st Century will feature presentations by journalist Jelani Cobb and #BlackLivesMatter Co-Creator Alicia Garza at the Dallas City Performance Hall from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tickets must be purchased in advance because they will not be sold at the venue.

* Graphic courtesy of the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture

JUST IN: Children’s Health’s Holiday Parade Is Canceled, But A Get-Together Breakfast With Santa Is Still On At The Adolphus

There are just times when words have to be eaten and this is one of them. In an earlier post, the declaration was made that this year’s Children’s Health’s Holiday Parade would not be canceled.

Word just arrived from Children’s Scott Summerall, that indeed the parade is canceled.

No, there will be no frigid roads nor frozen tundra. But WFAA’s Colleen Coyle, who has a cot in the backroom at the studio, is warning that Saturday morning is gonna be ugly. With this in mind, wiser minds realized that the conditions just didn’t allow for safer health-conditions for participants and spectators.

Children’s Health Holiday Parade*

Children’s Health Holiday Parade*

The long story made short — the parade is canceled, not postponed.

The official word is, “Despite today’s beaming sunshine, weather forecasts for DFW include a high probability of heavy rain and cold temperatures on Saturday. Due to these impending weather conditions and the fact that many of the acts cannot perform in the rain, we are canceling the Children’s Health Holiday Parade out of concern for the well-being of the patients and families we serve. We sincerely appreciate all of the incredible patients, volunteers, participants, sponsors and attendees who help bring the parade to life each year, especially Santa. You can still tune in to WFAA channel 8 on Saturday morning at 10:00 a.m. to watch last year’s parade!”



However… and you just knew there would be a “however”… the Auxiliary’s breakfast with Santa is still on from 9:30-11:30 at the Adolphus with “traditional photographs with Santa Claus, face painting, balloon artists, breakfast treats and other fun festivities, we have also added special celebrity appearances and costume character visits.”

For those, who bought tickets to attend the parade and want a refund, no problem. But, gee whiz! Tis the season, so why not just let the unused tickets go to support the efforts at Children’s Health.

So snooze in on Saturday and dream that your contributions are helping youngsters at Children’s. Or attend brunch with Santa and make sure that you provide the old codger with a list of your wishes.

* Photos provided by Children's Health

Bundle Up For Saturday’s 29th Annual Children’s Health Holiday Parade Through Downtown Dallas

 UPDATE: The parade has indeed been canceled, but the sold-out breakfast with Santa is still on!

Just imagine. Toddlers, who attended the first-ever Children’s Health Holiday Parade in 1987, are all grown up and have toddlers of their own. For some it’s become a family tradition despite the changes of routes and the weather conditions.

Children’s Health Holiday Parade*

Children’s Health Holiday Parade*

Speaking of which, this Saturday’s weather forecast is gonna be so very typical of North Texas winter. The day’s high is gonna maybe hit 50 degrees and there’s a very good chance of rain. But, shoot! That’s why retailers invented gloves, sock caps, bumbershoots, slickers and galoshes.

So, dig out all those warm clothes and head downtown early because the area’s biggest, most colorful walking extravaganza starts at 10 a.m. come rain or shine. If you want a reserved bleacher seat, you can get it here!

2016 Children’s Health Holiday Parade route*

2016 Children’s Health Holiday Parade route*

Afterwards, head to your favorite spot for a late morning brunch with hot chocolate, hot toddy, Belgian waffles and all that comfort food you deserve.

The parade has only been canceled once in history back in 2013 when an ice storm hit the area. But rest easy. This ain’t gonna be a repeat of that one. It’s just gonna be damp and chilly.

* Photo and graphic courtesy of Children's Health

2016 Parade Of Playhouses At NorthPark Center Marched Off With A Record-Breaking Amount For Dallas CASA

Dallas nonprofits are on a roll with good news. Now word comes from Dallas CASA about the results from the 2016 Parade of Playhouses at NorthPark. The Kappa Alpha Thetas have spent the last couple of days tallying the results. The total was so astonishing that they triple checked their findings. But the numbers added up to 15,546 raffle tickets being purchased. Adding that amount with sponsorships and text voting, “more than $200,000” went to Dallas CASA and it was a record breaker!

But the smiley faces weren’t just on the Dallas CASA staffers and volunteers. Nope. More good news was being spread all around. Here’s a snapshot of other results from the “parade” from Dallas CASA’s Rosanne Lewis:

Kid Cottage (File photo)

Kid Cottage (File photo)

Say Cheese (File photo)

Say Cheese (File photo)

The Lookout*

The Lookout*

  • “’The Kid Cottage’ by LRO Residential (copper roof) was won by a Preston Hollow family with 3 kids under three. They have two boys and a girl and the boys were hoping for the Crest CASA Garage but mom split the tickets because she wanted the Cottage!
  • “’Say Cheese’ was won by one of our new volunteers. In her email she said, ‘Winning a playhouse was almost as exciting as becoming an advocate.’
  • “’The Lookout’ was won by a family who also have three children, a little 3-year-old boy and infant twins (a boy and a girl), who were born premature and are still in the hospital. On Sunday they won their playhouse, and on Monday they finally brought their babies home.”

And how about the playhouse builders? Which ones were voted the most popular via text ballots? Here’s the answer:

  • African Safari Adventure by Harman
  • Basecamp by Redlee/SCS with Sketchup
  • Crest CASA Garage by Crest Cadillac/Crest Infiniti


African Safari Adventure (File photo)

African Safari  (File photo)

Basecamp (File photo)

Basecamp (File photo)

Crest Casa Garage (File photo)

Crest Casa Garage (File photo)

Tomorrow and Thursday the playhouses will be delivered courtesy of Glazers to their new homes. One of them is going to Celina!

The only question remaining is what the heck are the builders going to come up with next year?  Perhaps a playhouse with a storm shelter?

LAST CALL: Dallas CASA’s 2016 Parade Of Playhouses Raffle And Voting Ends Sunday

2016 Parade of Playhouses (File photo)

2016 Parade of Playhouses (File photo)

Those adorable little residences that have been lining NorthPark Center’s hallways have evidently been a big, old hit. In just two weeks folks have purchased more than 10,000 raffle tickets in hope of winning one of the Parade of Playhouses for their own. Thanks to Dallas CASA volunteers including Kappa Alpha Theta types, more than 2,000 hours have been invested in the raffle sales that will benefit Dallas CASA.

Insiders report that sales are ahead of last year and 2015 was a record maker.

And as for the voting, there’s been a bit of debating on which one will win. So far, pollsters claim that the Kid Cottage by LRO Residential, African Safari Adventure by Harman and Crest CASA Garage by Crest Cadillac/Crest Infiniti were in the lead.

Kid Cottage

Kid Cottage (File photo)

African Safari Adventure (File photo)

African Safari Adventure (File photo)

Crest Casa Garage (File photo)

Crest Casa Garage (File photo)

But that could easily change, since voting doesn’t end until Sunday, when the raffle winners will be revealed in NorthPark’s North Court at 4 p.m. BTW, if you’re thinking about doing an online-ticket purchase, get it in before noon on Sunday.

As for the popularity contest, the voting results will be announced via social media and the Dallas CASA website.

Chance tickets are going for $5 each and a bargain-saving $20 for five. Voting is accomplished by texting dallascasa to 41444 with each vote costing $5 and are “not included” in the raffle drawing.

2016 Parade Of Playhouses Brings Out The Competitive Spirit To Raise Funds For Dallas CASA At NorthPark

Jeff Kindig

Jeff Kindig

Jeff Kindig of Harman is bound and determined to continue Harmon’s reign as the Parade of Playhouses top builder. It was just last year when Jeff blew the Dallas CASA parade competition at NorthPark off the grid with Buckaroo Mountain Adventure house. But Friday as the 14 adorable mini-mansions were preparing for the official kick-off, the bearded Jeff found himself facing the idea of staying put in his African Safari Adventure until the “parade’s” finish on Sunday, July 31.

The reason goes back to the night before, when the 14 Parade of Playhouses were delivered to NorthPark lining from Dillards to Macys to North Court. Since the houses were to be prepared for display Friday morning, the mini-houses were literally open houses Thursday night with munchkins checking out the rock walls, slides, ladders and multi-levels.

Retro Roots

Retro Roots



Friday morning was spent cleaning up footprints and replacing doorway netting and other temporary stop measures with Plexiglas. It was the installation of the Plexiglas that found Jeff on the wrong side of the tent. But after a little work, Jeff was outside and the goodies (bunk beds, desk, chair, trunk, Harman stereo audio system and an ATV-Style Jeep, 12-vol 4X4 Electric Car) were safely behind the Plexiglas for viewing.

Looking at the Plexiglas successfully in place, Dallas CASA Executive Director/President Kathleen LaValle with camera in hand admitted that the competition had been fierce. The Crest Casa Garage had an adorable mini-Cadillac parked inside. One builder, whose entry had a metal roof, reported that his people would be out each morning to polish the roof. The “Life on Mars” was the product of the College of Architecture at the University of Oklahoma.

Crest Casa Garage

Crest Casa Garage

Kid Cottage

Kid Cottage

Life on Mars

Life on Mars



In the meantime, NorthParkers were chuckling about inquiries about NorthPark’s new piece of art. It wasn’t. It was XyLophoNEhouse, a work in development. On Saturday the wooden tunnel would be highlighted by musical tubes all tuned to the note of C…like CASA.

Love and Peace

Love and Peace



2016 Parade of Playhouses

2016 Parade of Playhouses

The adorable homes with amazing detailing and imagination will be on display for voting and raffle until Sunday, July 31. The timing is simply perfect with the heat and humidity getting really old. Strolling through air-conditioned NorthPark to check out the parade is free for the viewing. And if one or two or all of them strike your fancy, buy a raffle ticket! You can either do it at one of the tables set up in NorthPark or do it online. The chances are going for $5 for one or five for $20. The winning tickets will be drawn on Sunday, July 31 at 4 p.m. at NorthPark.

You can also vote for your fav by texting dallascasa to 41444. Each vote costs $5. After all, paper ballots are so yesterday.

The Lookout*

The Lookout*

However, there was one MIA. Starting yesterday, #15 (aka The Lookout) was in place at Dallas CASA.

Why not drive over to Dallas CASA in the Wilson Historic District and check it out? While there check out volunteering for Dallas CASA.

In meantime, you can check out all the NorthPark 14 plus The Lookout at Dallas CASA at MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

* Photo provided by Dallas CASA

MySweetCharity Photo Gallery: 2016 Parade Of Playhouses

The 2016 Parade of Playhouses started its displayed march throughout NorthPark officially on Friday with 14 adorable mini-mansions available for viewing, voting and up for grabs. Since they’ll only be available for checking out until Sunday, July 31, time is ticking away for the annual Dallas CASA fundraiser.



Crest Casa Garage

Crest Casa Garage

Be prepared. This year’s crop is gangbusters with slides, rock walls, metal roofs, bunk beds, ladders and all types of extra-special perks. As Dallas CASA Executive Director Kathleen LaValle admitted — the competition was fierce this year.

Life on Mars

Life on Mars



While the post about the last-minute preparations is being finalized, all 14 playhouses are available for eyeballing at MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

A Gentle Reminder: 4th Of July Closures And Limited Services

Old Glories

Old Glories

The 4th of July holiday is Monday. But there are those crafty, creative types who are turning that one-day holiday into a four day weekend. Yup! The scheduling part of their brains figured out if they took Friday off, they could take full advantage of the weekend plus the Monday holiday. Some are already checking out.

However, not everybody could do just that. Here is a rundown of Dallas City offices and services that will be experiencing holiday closures or limited operation.

Closed on Monday, July 4

  • City offices
  • Libraries
  • Park and Recreation administrative office and Recreation Centers
  • Animal Services — The Shelter and Administrative offices will be closed. However, Animal Services staff will be available to respond to emergency call that will be handled thru 311. The Everyday Adoption Center at 16821 Coit Rd. will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Police administrative offices.
  • Dallas Fire Rescue administrative offices.
  • Sanitation administrative offices.

Closed Saturday, July 2, and Monday, July 4

  • Municipal Courts Building

Business as usual

  • Police
  • Dallas Fire Rescue
  • Sanitation

Regarding the U.S. Postal Service and banking institutions, they will be closed on Monday.

On the other hand, retailers, entertainment facilities and many restaurants will be wide open for business. And, of course, there are the neighborhood parades. So, don’t forget the sunscreen and DEET, while celebrating the U.S.’s 240th birthday. No gifts necessary.

Despite Predicted Early Easter Showers, Lee Park Pet Parade Is Scheduled To March On At 2 p.m.

Dallas’ leading fashion event will take place at 2 p.m. on Sunday. And there’ll be some real dogs in the lineup. Yup, it’s the Petropolitan Pooch Parade at Lee Park.

Lee Park and Arlington Hall Conservancy President/CEO Gay Donnell is keeping her eyes on the weather for this 50th anniversary of Easter in Lee Park. According to the latest reports, if “graceful” showers sans hail and the end-of-the-world shenanigans are gonna happen before noon, they’ll take place in the morning which means that the afternoon of activities (Easter Egg Hunt, music and people/pooch watching) will be timed just right from 1 to 4 p.m.

The only caveat is that the temps may be a tad-bit cool, so if that adorable bare-shouldered sundress is demanding an outing better haul out that pale blue or pink pashmina as well.

As for the four-legged critters, all breeds, sexes and ages are welcome to paw their stuff in spring finery, as long as they have a “friendly” attitude. Remember, there is a $10 entry fee and the models should have their humans on a leash…a non-retractable one.

The parade starts at 2 p.m., but you’ll want to get there early to get registered and check out the competition.

37th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade And Festival May Be A Wee Bit Brisk

On this St. Patrick’s Day morning many folks couldn’t tell if it was thunder or the annual leprechaun-Catskill gnomes bowling tournament rumbling them awake. Actually it was both.

Speaking of St. Paddy activities, don’t forget to pull out that green thingamabob that you wear once a year on this day. It will help prevent pinching.

BTW, if you thought you had missed the annual  St. Patrick’s Day Parade And Festival benefiting the Greenville Avenue Area Business Association Scholarship Fund, you didn’t. Organizers made the tough call and decided to hold the day-long activities (i.e. run, parade, concert and lots of beer tasting) on the following Saturday (March 19) instead of before.

Traffic plan for St. Patrick's Day Event*

Traffic plan for St. Patrick’s Day Event*

The good news is that the city fathers and parade leaders have got everything pretty much locked down including when things happen, what streets are blocked and “police assistance.”

Now, for the not-so-great news. No, it’s not horrible, terrible. But it is Mother Nature giving the event one of her chilly shoulders. Friday when preparations get underway and folks start claiming the best places to watch the parade, there’s an 80% chance of rain with temps ranging from 48-71 degrees. Luckily, there aren’t supposed to be any end-of-the-world tornadoes on the docket.

St. Patrick's Parade and Festival (File photo)

St. Patrick’s Parade and Festival (File photo)

St. Patrick's Day Parade and Festival (File photo)

St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival (File photo)

Then Saturday the sun is scheduled to make an appearance. Only the temperatures aren’t supposed to reflect the light of day. The weather-guessers are thinking in the chilly-willy, lower 60s. Translation: Skimpy outfits may not see the light of day without a major outbreak of goose pimples. It might be wise to pull out that raccoon coat that was dyed green. Or think about wearing those green thigh-high boots. Or, better yet start thinking which restaurant/bar will be nice and cozy with a pint of ale.

Also, if you have any shopping to do along Greenville, do it by Friday evening.

For more details about the plans and activities scheduled for Saturday’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration, follow the jump:

* Graphic courtesy of the City of Dallas [Read more...]

Women’s Auxiliary Of Children’s Medical Center Decked The Halls With Loads Of Wreaths

While the doors of The Trains at NorthPark were opening to the public on Saturday, November 21, the Dallas Chapter of Women’s Auxiliary of Children’s Medical Center folks were like Santa’s elves over at Children’s Medical Center. Actually, the gathering looked more like kids themselves. Plus there were a lot of fellas in the crowd.

Southwest Airlines wreath

Southwest Airlines wreath

Santa in a wreath

Santa in a wreath

They were gathered downstairs in the Butterfly Atrium that was filled with 200 individually decorated wreaths arranged by Co-Chairs Brittany George and Kelly Novel. Each one had been sponsored/produced by “Auxiliary members, families, scout troops and corporate groups” for the patients who were in residence for the holidays.

Kelly Novel, Joanna Clarke, Brittany George

Kelly Novel, Joanna Clarke, Brittany George

Women’s Auxiliary President Joanna Clarke fessed up that some of the hottie wreaths were classics that hibernated in a special spots when not at Children’s.

No sooner had instructions been given, than off like reindeer on Christmas Eve the teams with wreaths in hand were on their way to “deck the halls.”

And they didn’t dawdle. They still had to get things lined up for the  27th Annual Breakfast with Santa preceding the 28th annual Children’s Health Holiday Parade.

BTW, don’t expect to see the Auxiliary team early on New Year’s Eve. According to Joanna, they’ll be serving “a special meal to the families in the critical care units.”

If you’re looking for a group to join that has a great time helping others, consider signing up with the Auxiliary.


Wednesday Belongs To A Very Special Group Of People

If you don’t know a veteran, you’ve got 24 hours to find one. They’re remarkable folks, who served the U.S. in some capacity and Wednesday is Veterans Day. It’s the day when the country takes time to appreciate the sacrifices made by those serving in the military.

The weather forecast calls for the possibility of showers for the Dallas Veterans Day Parade, but what’s a little rain when you realize what these folks have done. This year’s parade “will commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. In addition to honoring all veterans, this year’s parade will specifically recognize the sacrifices World War II service men and women made to preserve the freedoms and liberties we enjoy today.”

Even if you can’t make the parade, there are still opportunities in which you can show your support like the Daughters of World War II luncheon at the Hilton Anatole. It’s going to a very special occasion, since the number of WWII vets is dwindling.

And there’s also the Stars & Stripes Film Festival that kicks off Thursday at the Angelika and continues through Sunday, November 15. There is even a luncheon Friday at the Dallas County Club with Gen. Tommy Franks benefiting Sons of the Flag. According to S&SFF Co-Chair Pete Foster, Navajo code breaker Samuel Holiday is scheduled to be on hand Saturday, at 3 p.m.

20th Parade Of Playhouses Is Underway At NorthPark With An Elephant, A Kayak And A Fireman’s Pole To Benefit Dallas CASA

It’s official. Summer heat has arrived and settled in. But that’s no reason to hide in a dark room with a bucket of ice cubes. And besides the munchkins have already gotten tired of the swimming pool and have seen all the kid-friendly movies.

But here’s a new must-see that’s in a very air-conditioned environment. It’s the 20th Anniversary Parade of Playhouses benefiting Dallas CASA at NorthPark Center that starts marching officially today through Sunday, July 26.With strollers parading by, the little houses are holding their own against NP’s artwork.

20th Anniversary Parade of Playhouses

20th Anniversary Parade of Playhouses

Yes, the Parade is taking place a month early, but that’s because NP is going to kick off its 50th birthday celebration in August.

If you’re out of town, hustle home because this year’s crop of 16 mini-castles is incredible. One woman was heard to say this morning, “I wish my house was built as well as these.”

And, of course, everyone has a favorite. There’s the Ellie The Elephant house in the La Duni wing, the Funguard Beach House in front of Victoria’s Secret, the Mini Luxury playhouse between Apple and Papyrus, a number of contemporary houses and some darn charming cottages. One even has a fireman’s pole to slide down from the upper level to the downstairs.

Ellie The Elephant house

Ellie The Elephant house

Funguard Bach House

Funguard Beach House

Mini Luxury playhouse hardware

Mini Luxury playhouse hardware

Mini Luxury playhouse hardware

Mini Luxury playhouse hardware


But the one that had the chatter going was Harman’s Buckaroo Mountain Adventure house. The two-story playhouse itself is perfectly fabulous with its own stone wall for climbing. But what comes with it is better than Santa could provide. For instance? Well, how about a kayak, a mountain bike, a GoPro Style camcorder, a hammock, a four-person tent with two sleeping bags, a JBL 2 Channel Marine amplifier and JBL MS6520 6½” loudspeakers.

Buckaroo Mountain Adventure house

Buckaroo Mountain Adventure house

Buckaroo Mountain Adventure house

Buckaroo Mountain Adventure house

If you have child in your life, or have an organization that could use one of these playhouses, then buy a raffle ticket. They’re $5 each or five for $20. Winners will be picked at a drawing in NorthPark’s North Court on Sunday, July 26, at 4 p.m.