Results From 7th Annual Bone Bash

Travis and Amy Ripley (File photo)

Seems like just yesterday everyone was in Halloween costumes. One of the most memorable spook celebrations was the 7th Annual Bone Bash benefiting North Texans with arthritis. Those folks really take their dress-up evening seriously.

But they also raised a lot of $$ at the same time.

According to Arthritis Foundation North Texas Board Chair Ryan Gummer, the 500 guests at the Fairmont raised $214,000 to help the 1.8M North Texans suffering from this extremely cruel and painful disease.

Oh, if you were wondering who won the various categories for costumes, here are the results:

  • Best Costume: Dr. and Mrs. David Karp for King Arthur and “itis”
  • Most Original: Vanessa Diosdado, Claire and Katy Roberts as Loofa Girls
  • Funniest Costume: Dr. Bo Frederick as Snow White and his band of merry dwarves
  • Scariest Costume: Mr. and Mrs. Michael Schornstein as “Walking Dead” duo
  • Best Couple: Dr. Amy and Travis Ripley as Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln

Communities Foundation Of Texas’s Giving Guide Is A Treasure According To State Sen. Florence Shapiro

Florence Shapiro has worn more hats that a Mad Hatter’s Tea veteran. In addition to heading up her own ad agency, being mayor of Plano and most recently serving as a state senator, she has always been a major league champion for the nonprofits and charitable causes in our area.

Those smart folks over at Communities Foundation of Texas wisely had Florence, who is on the CFT board, describe their annual Giving Guide for you to consider for use.

CFT’s Giving Guide Does Homework For You

State Sen.Florence Shapiro (File photo)

“About this time every year, the drive to give back ignites in the hearts and souls of people everywhere. There is just something about taking stock of all that is good in our lives that spurs us to  extend that same joy to others less fortunate. Having the desire is where many people get stuck. They aren’t sure how best to give back, or to whom they should direct their donations. They may ask their friends and family where they donate, or respond to reminders sent by nonprofits they’ve supported in the past. Others ask Communities Foundation of Texas because they know of the foundation’s deep knowledge of local nonprofits tackling North Texas’ biggest community issues.

“If you also happen to be wondering how to best channel your goodwill, look no further than the annual Giving Guide – a carefully curated collection of more than 300 local nonprofits’ funding requests, from all over the metroplex and eight key need areas: animals, arts & culture, education, elderly, environment, health, social services and more. The collection was compiled by Communities Foundation of Texas, which spent four months reviewing and evaluating hundreds of funding requests to arrive finally at the Giving Guide. Existing as an online database, the fully vetted requests are searchable by area of interest or by name. After clicking on a nonprofit’s name, a summary of the program needing funding drops down and you can see how much still needs funding. Anyone can donate any amount to these projects by a credit card, or Communities Foundation of Texas fund holders can direct donations from their funds.

“Don’t let uncertainty of where to donate get in the way of your desire to give back. The homework has all been done. A few quick clicks are all that separate us from making a difference here and now.

“Remember that all gifts are tax-deductible. To donate any amount with a credit card, visit www.cftexas.org and click on “Giving Guide.” Or, to set up a donor-advised fund of $10,000 or more at Communities Foundation of Texas, please contact Communities Foundation of Texas Chief Relationship Officer Susan Swan Smith at [email protected] or 214-750-4226.”

-State Sen. Florence Shapiro

This is an amazing tool for anyone with the least bit of interest of philanthropy at any level. Do yourself and others a favor and check it out.

While The Queenie Is Away, The MySweetCharity Elves Are In Overdrive To Pull Things Together For 2013

Queenie is down and out for the count. She’s been in the royal bedchamber swigging NyQuil, singing along  with her old buddy Maria Callas, chomping on dark chocolate caramels and perusing the 2013 Dallas Social Directory that just arrived via a worn-out carrier pigeon.

In the meantime, the MySweetCharity elves have been hustling to get things organized for her return. Since the 2012 books are nearly closed, we’re starting to put together our plans for 2013. But we need your help. If you have an event coming up in 2013, could you please let us know ASAP, so we can lock it down in our ledger books?

What do you need to share? It’s simple. Just email [email protected] with the following info:

  • Event
  • Beneficiary
  • Date
  • Time
  • Location
  • Ticket contact including name, phone number and email address
  • Ticket price
  • Website
  • Chairperson
  • Honorary chairperson
  • Honoree
  • Any extra info that might impress Queenie (Don’t make it way too long. . . like more than 250 words. . . that’s the limit of her reading capabilities).

Please send the information. You see while others are out celebrating New Year’s Eve, the MSC elves will be having their year-end reviews and we really want to impress the old Queenie.

Crystal Charity Ball’s “Le Grand Bal Parisien” — C’est Très Magnifique

Marie Antoinette wasn’t all that bad. If only she’d had advisers like the Crystal Charity Ball gals to whisper in her ear, “Think charity instead of vanity,” she might have kept her wits and wigged head.

Luckily the CCB ladies used all the beauty, glamour and “awe” factor to raise more than $4M for children’s charities Saturday night at the Hilton Anatole. In fact they even impressed some heady out-of-towners with Le Grand Bal Parisien. But more about those visitors later.

Le Grand Bal Parisien

Let’s start at the beginning. It was indeed a grand event under the leadership of CCB Chair Aileen Pratt and her conseiller/event producer extraordinaire Tom Addis.

PRE-GALA

Before the first slippered toe entered beneath the Arc de Triomphe with French flags on either side and “I Love Paris” and “The Last Time I Saw Paris” playing in the background, the CCB gals had worked until the latest second to make sure even last-minute “oops” were dismissed. For

Chantilly Ballroom

instance, those nearly 200 candelabra centerpieces with 10 electronic candles and crystals draped in the ballroom had proved to be as temperamental as a crazed prima donna. Earlier in the day they had started showing signs of being overwhelmed by the responsibility of lighting up the room,  and required some shoring up. The towering centerpieces were reinforced to perfection like a Sam Hamra facelift. After all, one would never want a candelabra to be a party pooper during the legendary fundraiser.

Eric Coudron and Emily Bernet

Even the Anatole’s tried-and-true elephant statues in the lobby outside the Chantilly Ballroom were undercover for the night. Thanks to truckloads of shrubbery and other lively greenery, the Lamberts team concealed the mastodons in a lush garden of colorful flowers. Within this Versailles-like garden of roses and peonies, Emily Bernet in 18th century attire sat prettily in a swing with Eric Coudron giving a gentle push every now and then. Despite a blinding spotlight, the two from the Preston Center Dance studio created a perfect backdrop for guests to be photographed.

Eiffel Tower in the Hilton Anatole lobby

Just behind this quaint scene was a magnificent 40-foot tall, gleaming gold Eiffel Tower that seemed to reach to the ceiling of the hotel’s second floor. You were expecting an oil derrick? At the base of the tower were garden statues and, nearby, ice sculptures of the Eiffel Tower atop mountains of shrimp that were the size of lobsters. You were expecting crawfish? Just a few steps away were baskets and arrangements of fruits, cheeses and breads.

On the left of the lobby was the silent auction, with treasures that would have  impressed Louis XIV’s court. This year the auction was beautifully divided into six categories (travel, sports, fashion, jewelry, dining and entertainment, and home and garden). And to designate each area, no tacky signs would be allowed. Instead magnificent framed tableaux by local creative royals (Paige Baten-Locke – travel, John Clutts – fashion, Brad Hatton – sports, Sherry Hayslip – jewelry, Tish Key – home and garden and Lynn Sears– dining and entertainment) presided over the biddables. Highlighting some of the scenes were live models (flight attendant, French damsel, equestrian).

Sherry Hayslip tableau

On the other side of the lobby were the BBVA Compass casino and gifts and prize shop.

And everywhere were more than 1750 formally attired guests impressing the Anatole guests who wandered through the lobby with their luggage.

COCKTAIL PARTY

As marvelous as the decorations and food in the Anatole’s lobby were, it was still the guests, their fashions and their tidbits of news that complimented the gala.

Fashion-wise —  Despite being under the weather and confined to her Anatole suite most of the day, Chair Aileen dazzled in her Oscar de la Renta gown and her own jewelry with husband Jack, children Caroline and Michael and her dad Teodosio Mejia. . . Jennifer Sampson wore her mom-in-law’s vintage Melinda Eng black gown. . . Clad in Vera Wang were Janie Cooke, Lynn

Caroline Pratt, Michael Pratt and Aileen and Jack Pratt

McBee with Loro Piana wrap and Kathleen Gibson . . . Despite the unusually warm first day of December, some gals (Jennifer Clark, in an Oscar cape that she bought at the CCB auction years ago, and Sarah Losinger) decided to play it safe and wore fur stoles and mini-capes. You just never know if the ballroom’s A/C is going to be blowing and going. . .  Ah, but the most popular item of the night — Judith Leiber purses. They were being clutched and hung from wrists everywhere (Diane Brierley in Carolina Herrera, Barbara Stuart, Lynn McBee, Jennifer Clark, Katy Bock, to name a few). . . But not all were in brand spanking new gowns. Faye Briggs was in a tomato red Galanos that the late designer fitted on her himself about 30 years ago . . . Barbara

Janie Condon , Lynn McBee and Mary Gill

Stuart wore a turquoise gown with wrap from Patti Flowers that she’s had for a couple or so years. . . .Alas, one poor gal had hit the Champagne with such zest that she couldn’t for the life of her remember who designed her ivory gown.

And the men managed to look pretty darn stellar in their formal attire. Hal Brierley in Zegna, Bob Schlegel in Armani tux with black shirt from Brioni, Pete Kline fiddling with his new studs, Coley Clark in a Hadleigh suit and Philip Wier in Joseph Abboud.

Gems of the night— In keeping with the razzle-dazzle of the occasion, jewelry was out in full bloom. DeeDee Lee left her jingle-jangle charm bracelet at home and opted for a cuff, necklace and earrings from DeBoulle. . . CCB 2013 Chair Caren Kline‘s cuff and earrings were from Eiseman’s, as were Catherine Regeher‘s pearls and Faye Briggs’ diamond necklace

Kimberly and Justin Whitman

and cross . . .Kimberly Schlegel Whitman complemented her low-cut brown Zac Posen with Cindi Chao earrings and a Van Cleef cuff. . . .  Roz Colombo‘s all-white diamonds from Graff looked like a universe of stars twinkling through her black hair and Nina Ricci black lace gown. . . And who says the theory about the cobbler’s child applies to the wives of local jewelers? Katy Bock in an oh-so-form-fitting Marchese gown sparkled in Bachendorf jewelry, while Stacy Blank in Diamond Doctor gems chatted with Dallas Deloitte’s First Lady Laura Downing in another low-cut midnight blue Jovani gown.

Some wore marvelous sentimental pieces like Janie Condon, who topped off her Notre Dame green Pamella Roland gown with a choker that belonged to her late grandmother, Juanita Miller. In addition to the necklace, Juanita provided the additional advice, “Hold your head up when you wear these.”. . Francie Moody-Dahlberg highlighted her Marchesa ballgown with Burmese ruby necklace and earrings from her father. . . Lynn McBee’s added

Francie Moody-Dahlberg and Kevin Dahlberg

diamond earrings were from her mother. . . A fabulous Tiffany broach on Katherine Coker‘s Aidan Mattox gown was a gift from her father.

Talk About — Since this crowd tends to make headlines, conversations were rather newsy. Myrna in Vicky Teal and Bob Schlegel seemed to be wearing bigger-than-usual smiles, and with good reason. It seems daughters Kimberly Schlegel Whitman (and husband Justin) and Kari Kloewer (and husband Troy) just reported that they’re expecting babies in late spring. The elder Schlegels love nothing more than being grandparents to Kim’s and Justin’s J.R., and now they’ll have two more grand kiddos to adore. . . Faye Briggs was just back from her grandson’s wedding in Mexico. It was a Mayan theme on the beach. . . AT&T’s Holly Reed was talking about the newly announced golf course for South Dallas that AT&T is involved with. “There were so many moving parts,” she said. “And if we do it right, there will be so many more.” Plans call for the course to be able to host a major pro tournament plus the Ryder Cup, at least. . .  Longtime Parkie Robbie Briggs recalled the early days of the Highland Park Village.

Jason and Laura Downing

But even with all those 1700+ types cocktailing, there were some impressive names MIA. Lee Ann and Alan White, Betsy and Jim Sowell and Kelli and Gerald Ford couldn’t make it because they were partying in NYC. Perhaps it had to do with the finalization of Gerald’s Hilltop Holdings acquiring Alan’s PlainsCapital. . . The Deloitte crowd arrived late due to a private pre-gala cocktail party for Deloitte head Barry Salzburg and his wife Evelyn, who had flown in from New York to be at Laura and Jason Downing‘s table.

Annette Simmons, Ed Snider and Lin Spivak

Another elegant entourage that arrived a bit late into the cocktail party belonged to Annette and Harold Simmons. They had been at Jimmy and Carl Westcotts‘ oh-so-French mansion for cocktails. The group was made up of former Dallasite Craig McCaw and his blonde beauty wife Susan, Robin Baker Fell and husband Bob Fell and Comcast Spectator Chair/Philadelphia Flyers’ owner Ed Snider and Lin Spivak. Ed had made news just days before, revealing that he had proposed to Lin in Santa Barbara last week.

THE BALL

But don’t worry. They were there when the doors opened to the ballroom at 9 and they took their places at the table placed strategically between Aileen’s head table (Su-Su and Jerry Meyer, Sharon and Terry Worrell, Jill and Bob Smith, Sue and Joe Justice, Lana and Barry Andrews and Gloria and Bruce Martindale) and the dance floor. The reason for such prestigious placement? Oh, silly ones. Didn’t you know that once again Annette and Harold presented the CCB  with $1M? Within the CCB heavens, that made them the Angels of Grace.

Lana Andrews and Jill Smith

Nancy Dedman and Lauryn Gayle White

And just as the guests like Lisa and Kenny Troutt, Nancy Dedman sporting a cane after hip surgery, Lauryn Gayle White, Lee Bailey with son Mike Bailey, Rachael and Bob Dedman, Jacqueline Fojtasek, Lydia Novakov with Bishop Kevin Farrell, Gina and Ken Betts, U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, Ruth and Ken Altshuler, Nancy and Jeremy Halbreich, Caren Prothro, Barb Reynolds, Amara Durham, Linda and Bill Custard, newlyweds Kristen Johnston and Ladd Sanger, oldie weds Skye and Bill Brewer, Rowland Robinson with daughter Kate Robinson Swail, Michal and Loyd Powell, Conlons (Robyn and Don and son Keith) and Perots (Margot and Ross Sr., and Sarah And Ross Jr.) entered the gloriously decorated ballroom, dancers from various French eras filled the dance floors. Wild can-can dancers kicked up their heels and did splits that boggled the mind. Beautifully elegant 18th century court dancers did the minuet, and pristine Harlequin ballerinas pirouetted and were lifted around the floor. No sooner had one group finished a routine than the next one was in place. It made “Dancing With the Stars” look like an elementary school dance recital. And to make sure that the Pratts’ and Simmons’ guests had a clear view of the proceedings, nicely attired security gents politely but firmly suggested that guests might want to observe the performances from other spots in the room.

In fact at one point in the dancing, a can-can dancer’s white spat went flying and fell on the edge of the dance floor. Somehow it ended up in the Westcotts’ hands. Instead of keeping it as an evening’s souvenir, they had it returned to the dancer.

Carl and Jimmy Westcott

Past Crystal Charity Ball chairs

It seemed that as soon as the professional dancers had scampered off the dance floor, guests including past CCB chairs (Connie O’Neill, Cynthia Mitchell, Debbie Oates, Gloria Martindale, Vicki Chapman, Debbie Snell, Jill Smith, Margo Goodwin, Louise Griffeth, Lydia Novakov, Nancy Chapman, Karen Shuford, Linda Beach, Tincy Miller, Randi Halsell, Barbara Stuart, Sara Martineau and Dee Hughes) realized they had truly entered a splendiferous French wonderland. The oh-so familiar Chantilly Ballroom was no more. Gargantuan murals with

Trisha Wilson

elaborate scenes covered the walls. Gilded statues stood beside even more candelabras on pedestals positioned around the dance floor. What was that? Had one of the statues moved? Yes! The statues were gals a la Goldfinger gilding. They had a marvelous spot to observe the boldface dancers (Trisha Wilson with perfectly toned arms outstretched, Chris Heinbaugh dipping Gillian Breidenbach, Linda and Steve Ivy, Paul and Tiffany Divis, Paige Westhoff with Troy Schiermeyer) fill the dance floor.

Chris Heinbaugh and Gillian Breidenbach

But it wasn’t all OMG huge and awesome. The tricky chandeliers that had acted like spoiled debutantes earlier in the day were now behaving themselves. Perhaps it was being paired with breathtaking floral arrangements by Junior Villanueva. Together they created a shimmering glow that made everyone seem younger and more dazzling.

One guest asked her table companion, “Do you think the centerpieces are for sale?” To this question, the companion winked and said, “Honey, for the right price, anything is.”

Place settings

Speaking of the tables, fortunate were those who had someone fluent in French at their opulent tables. While the French menu rolled off the tongue, the courses proved more interesting when served. The salad was a bit tricky for some. Seems that the exquisite candlelight resulted in some guests trying to pour the cup of supposed brown-looking thick dressing on their salade de homard. Oops; the cup contained foie gras. Unlike guests, the lobster salad did not require a fabulous dressing.

The surprise of the course was the tarte à l’oignon et gruyère. Again, the fabulous lighting of the evening made it a wee bit difficult to see exactly what lay flat on the plate. But after the first bite resulted in “Wow!”, the tiny pie was the first to vanish from the plate.

And then there was that tasty-looking napoleon de caviar. “I love caviar,” a matron said just before cutting into what she thought was a cake filled with the salty black roe. Alas, as she sliced into the little cake, the mini-tower toppled. She then realized that the caviar had only been the topping. Hey, this wasn’t a Russian ball! It was France at its finest to match the efforts of 100 women to raise $4,420,489 for such beneficiaries as Jubilee Park and Community Center, Letot Girls’ Residential Treatment Center, North Texas Public Broadcasting – KERA, Our Lady of Perpetual Help School, Retain Foundation of the Southwest, Voice of Hope Ministries, the Wilkinson Center and the Crystal Charity Ball Horizon Projects (The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Society’s Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden).

For many, many more photos, check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

More Deets On Who’s Involved In Go Red For Women Luncheon

Caren Prothro (File photo)

As if landing former First Lady Laura Bush as the keynote speaker wasn’t enough for the Go Red For Women Luncheon on February 1st at the Hilton Anatole, Co-chairs Kate Rose Marquez and Virginia Rose have arranged for a blue-ribbon advisory council including: Lindalyn Adams, Allie Beth Allman, Lana Andrews, Ruth Altshuler, Linda Custard, Debbie Francis, Sandi Haddock, Caroline Rose Hunt, Gene Jones, Ann Margolin, Sara Martineau, Margot Perot, Jeanne L. Phillips, Dr. Carol Poldolsky, Caren Prothro, Deedie Rose, Peggy Sewell, Shelle Sills, Annette Simmons and Lee Ann White.

Lee Ann White (File photo)

To quote Kate Rose, “Every one of these women said yes immediately! They love our Former First Lady, Mrs. Bush. We are thrilled to have such a wonderful group of women. Instead of advising a luncheon, I believe this group could easily run a first-world country!”

New MySweetCharity Series: Pitch Your Nonprofit

It’s that ho-ho time of year when gift giving is the fav sport everywhere. But accountants are also reminding folks that come April, a nice charitable donation might be wise to make before December 31. Think of it as a gift to yourself. You give a donation, you feel good and you get to list it in your income taxes.

So, in the spirit of matchmaking, MySweetCharity is running a new series in the final days of 2012 — Pitch Your Nonprofit. Local charities will “pitch” their nonprofit in the hopes that you might make a donation. These are all groups that will not only greet your donation with glee, but will also be able to provide you with verification that will make your accountant a happy camper.

Side benefit: You’ll learn that Dallas is indeed a city with many incredible organizations with the sole purpose of being here “for the good of Dallas.”

Crystal Charity Ball Sneak Peek

Hilton Anatole’s Santa’s workshop

If you’re expecting something along the lines of Santa’s workshop, scrub that idea and leave the curly-toed shoes at home.

Eiffel Tower in the Hilton Anatole lobby

CCB Chair Aileen Pratt and her committee are creating a Parisian wonderland at the Hilton Anatole for tomorrow night. Think mammoth tapestries, more flowers than the Arboretum can boast and the exquisite beauty of romantic Paris.

For those lucky enough to dine, make sure you check out the breathtaking  centerpieces that event producer extraordinaire Tom Addis and decorations chair Ashley Hunt have created. Tomorrow afternoon, Ashley and her team will be standing on their tippy toes to place shades and light the thousands of candles. Why? Because everyone looks oh-so much more beautiful by candlelight, don’t you know!

Tonight, though, it was a celebration in a private suite high atop the Anatole where the ladies were feting Aileen and her leadership. The room was decked out with a six-foot-tall Eiffel tower with lights, scenes of Paris all over the place, French music and even a crystal necklace for Aileen made from the ballroom’s centerpieces. And what was being served? Champagne, but of course! And Aileen’s other favs cheeseburgers, French fries and mini-desserts with emphasis on la chocolat.

Lydia Novakov and Tom Addis

As Tom welcomed CCB chairs of the past and possibly future, Aileen took time to join the newest kids on the CCB block – the frosh class of CCB – to celebrate their first ball preparation. Just in case you didn’t know, the CCB ladies don’t just raise $$. They are the worker bees, who schlep the decorations and all that manual labor stuff to prepare for the ball.

Aileen Pratt (in gold) and the new CCB-ers

But Saturday night, they’ll doff their jeans and T-shirts for the glitter and glamour synonymous with CCB to raise the roof and a heck of a lot of money.

Longtime Fundraising Vets Gave Two Little Sisters A Standing O At The National Philanthropy Day Luncheon

A lot of the good guys got together today — all 500 of them. The occasion was the National Philanthropy Day Luncheon in which the people who work year round to raise money for nonprofits and those who provide the funding get together to recognize the really outstanding ones among them.

This year’s event at the Hyatt Regency was chaired by Nexus Recovery Center’s Abi Erickson. But before the Association of Fundraising Professional of Greater Dallas‘s luncheon took place, Diane and Hal Brierley sponsored a reception in which the key players (honorees, underwriters and nominators) had a chance to chat over coffee.

And what do these very good guys and gals talk about? SMU Chairman of the Board Caren Prothro talked about all the various projects being undertaken by SMU (the newly announced Trinity Groves golf course, the equestrian center at the Trinity , the Bush Library); Hal Brierley, who had just returned from a trip to Boston, was amazed at the proposed Children’s Garden at the Dallas Arboretum; and Ashlee Kleinert was focused on the upcoming Executives in Action breakfast on Thursday, December 6, at the Fairmont with author Charles Duhigg.

But this group was promised to be out of the luncheon and back to business by 1:30, so the luncheon started promptly in the ballroom at 12:03. Following Rev. Andrew Jackson‘s invocation and Greater Dallas Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals President Melanie “Old Texas gal” Perkins‘ address, lunch was on the table.

Sally Smith Mashburn, Todd and Abby Williams

But at 12:37 Abi introduced emcee Scott Murray, who commenced with the program. Each of the honorees — Outstanding Philanthropists Abby and Todd Williams, Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser Sarah Losinger, Sally Smith Mashburn for the Outstanding Foundation Dr. Bob and Jean Smith Foundation, Outstanding Corporation Southwest Airlines and Outstanding Fundraising Executive Lesly Bosch Annen, did a fabulous video thank-you produced by KERA.

Lesly Bosch Annen and Sarah Losinger

But it was the very last recipients who stole the show and received a standing ovation for it. They were Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy third-grader Isabelle and first-grader Katherine Adams. In their schoolgirl uniforms, they were the hit of the day. Sure, their video acceptance speech moved faster than a roadrunner in West Texas, but their adorable personalities and their amazing accomplishments in providing water for those in third-world countries caused many of the adults to look like bobble head dolls nodding at their achievements. And how did they do this?

Katherine and Isabelle Adams

By making and selling oragami ornaments. In addition to being the toast of local fundraising efforts, the girls recently “spoke at the New York Chapter of the United Nations.”

When asked by Scott if they were headed back to school, the girls smiled saying, “No.” For a nine-year-old and a six-year-old, that’s better than a standing O any day.

All of which proves W.C. Fields was very wise about the power of youngsters. They steal the scene every time! But in this case, stealing was perfectly fine.

And what about that promise of being finished and out the door by 1:30 p.m.? Well, the 500 hit the door at 1:20 and were back at work raising money so needed by the nonprofits.

Saturday’s Child Is Full Of Activities

Despite temperatures rising into the upper 70s, the first day of December is going to be a blockbuster for kids of all ages.

First there’s the Children’s Medical Center Holiday Parade in downtown Dallas. No need to wear the woollies this year, but do get there early to get a great seat. If your place for watching is at home, no problem. It will be aired on WFAA-CH. 8 starting at 10 a.m.

Perot Museum of Nature and Science all lit up (File photo)

Then head over the Perot Museum of Nature and Science for its first official day of operation. After weeks of being the party palace, it’s opening its doors with a ribbon cutting. One thing: Don’t rush the look. Take your time to study every corner and exhibition. And don’t be discouraged, if you don’t see it all. The Perot is going to be here for eons.

But if you want something a little more outdoorsy, head on over to Flag Pole Hill. JCPenney’s, which has been going through a “transition,” is hosting “Sledding Without Snow.” Whoa! Wait! Tobaggon in this “heat wave?” Okay, so instead of wearing mittens and sock caps, put an extra layer of sunscreen on. Be smart and make reservations.

Finally for the big kids, who love nothing more than razzle-dazzle and black-tie elegance, there’s the Crystal Charity Ball at the Hilton Anatole. What does this have to do with children? Well, how about it being the grande dame of all fundraisers for children’s organizations in Dallas?

Suggestion: On Sunday, sleep in.

Mad Hatters And Announcement News Filled Number One Le Jus Beyond Capacity

Sue Ringle

Standing on the staircase inside Number One Le Jus Wednesday night on behalf of the 2013 Mad Hatter’s Tea, the first thing Sue Ringle told the 70 or so party-goers was that she was looking forward to “juicing up.” That’s juice as in the organic variety, a key attraction at Brian Bolke and Dana Card‘s brand-new Number One retail store in Highland Park Village.

Previously the location of the Skillern’s soda fountain, then the Centennial liquor store, the two-story space now offers clothing (Donna Karan’s Urban Zen line, for example), home decor items and organic food and drink. Joked Ringle, president of the Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum & Botanical Garden: “I want you to know, Brian, that I will be coming here a lot more frequently now that this is not a liquor store!”

Brian Bolke

Guests at the announcement party for the 25th annual Mad Hatter’s Tea, the biggest fundraiser for the Arboretum Women’s Council, nibbled delicious and healthy hors d’oeuvres and sipped Number One’s trademark “Salty Chihuahuas.” What’s in those? Cold-pressed juice plus Dulce Vida, an organic tequila from … Austin, of course.

Enjoying the offerings and the lively conversation were Ramona Jones, still beaming about Thanksgiving spent in Fredericksburg with her five children and 12 grandchildren; Karen Lukin, who just marked her seventh anniversary with Whole Foods; Jill Rowlett, with word that the KTXD-TV news-talk program featuring her husband Tracy may be moving from live morning to live evening telecasts in January; Amy Vanderoef, who looked hot in her off-the-shoulder silk dress despite a slight chill in the air; Kersten Rettig in pearls, heels, skinny navy blue slacks, sweater over blouse and glasses. Glasses? Yup, seems after all these years the blonde turned in her contacts for no-line glasses and looked pretty darn adorable.

Amy Vanderoef and Shay Geyer

While some thought it a chilly idea to have doors open to the evening temperatures, it became obvious why. The place was so jammed with gals that they were spilling out on to the sidewalk.

But at 7 p.m. all eyes turned to the staircase, where Sue quickly gave way to Shay Geyer, co-chair of the 2013 Mad Hatter’s Tea along with Maggie Kipp. Shay explained that the 25th anniversary event on April 11, titled “Adventures in Time,” once again will feature a Jan Strimple-produced fashion show, this time showcasing fashions from . . . drum roll, please. . . Roberto Cavalli and Oscar de la Renta. Brandishing a poster for the tea featuring colors like turquoise, purple, hot pink and lime green—”Think about that as you’re putting your outfit together”—Shay announced that Patty Dedman Nail would serve as this year’s honorary chair. She also gave a big shout-out to Carmaleta Whiteley, last year’s co-chair who’s been serving as an adviser, or “fairy godmother,” to Shay and Maggie.

And for the competitive types, the hat categories will be:

  • Gents Top Hats: Timeless
  •  Most True to Theme: Back To The Future
  •  Botanical: Adam and Eve
  • Most Whimsical: Roaring Twenties
  • Most Elegant: Court of Versailles
  • Best of Show: 25th Anniversary
  • Most Outlandish: Wild, Wild West

Maggie, by the way, was nowhere to be seen. According to Shay, that’s because Maggie was in the hospital at that very moment undergoing a C-section, aiming to welcome her second daughter, Caroline Greer Kipp, into the world. Seems Maggie had been orchestrating the Mad Hatter’s, St. Valentine’s Day Fashion Show and Luncheon and her day job since last week from a hospital bed in preparation for Caroline’s arrival. That was a pretty good excuse to be absent, everyone agreed. Then they turned back to their Salty Chihuahuas.

Veteran And Future Fundraisers Nosh With Nutcracker Types At Sugar Plum Fairy Tea At The Mansion

You sorta know you have a successful event when the cars are creating a lineup 5 minutes after the doors open. That was the scene at the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek today as Texas Ballet supporters, both current and future, arrived for the Sugar Plum Fairy Tea.

In its second year, the tea is part of the “warm” up for tomorrow’s Tutu Chic Fashion Show and Luncheon at the Winspear. Last year the afternoon tea for mums and daughters was held at Stanley Korshak, but because it grew in size, the decision was made to move it to the Mansion.

While the elegant Mansion may be known as the place for grownups to see and be seen, this afternoon it was abounding with little princesses dancing, hugging and being oh-so adorable. Needless to say, bows and party dresses were the call of the day. Tea Co-chair Kathryn Beach

Elizabeth Slates, Caroline Corrigan and Margo Touchstone

and her daughters Katy and Lilly were all in soft pink. . . . Elizabeth Slates, Caroline Corrigan and Margo Touchstone wore just hints of pink on the tutu bracelets. . .  Donna Arp Weitzman looked like a snow queen all in white with daughter-in-law Trish Arp and granddaughter Meredith Arp. Donna will be at the luncheon with 20+ of her gal pals. Unfortunately four-year-old Meredith won’t be able to attend. She has previous commitments.

Trish Arp, Meredith Arp and Donna Arp Weitzman

In addition to mountains of cookies and sandwiches, there was everything from wine to hot chocolate. Needless to say, there was a line forming for tea and hot chocolate.

Line up for tea and things

For entertainment, there were coloring books about the Sugar Plum Fairy with crayons within arm’s reach.

Katy Beach, Kathryn Beach and Lilly Beach

And what would a Sugar Plum Fairy Tea for the Texas Ballet be without ballerinas? Not to worry. They were all there — Clara, the Sugar Plum Fairy, Mouse King and Nutcracker himself.

The brilliant thing about the tea is that it’s hosted by the next year’s Tutu Chic co-chairs. Translation: today’s tea chairs — Munson sisters Kathryn Beach, Meg McGonigle and Merry Wyatt — will be chairing the fundraiser where “the champagne flows and the Korshak fashions dance on stage.”

BTW, Tutu Chic Co-chair Paige Slates reported that tomorrow’s fundraiser is sold out. However, you know how that goes. Write the right check and a place just might be found. Wink, wink.

Jocelyn White Returns To Chair Equest’s Triple Crown Gala With Smith Sisters As Honorary Chairs

Jocelyn White

Jocelyn White was a no-show-chair for this year’s Triple Crown Gala. But she had a pretty darn good excuse — she was on her honeymoon with hubby Kim Seal.

But last night she swore she would not only be on hand for the April 20th mega-fun fundraiser for Equest at Park Lane Equestrian Center, she would be a show-up-chair.

University boots

This announcement was made at Pinto Ranch among the la-di-da boots and fashionable western wear with Equesties (Billie Leigh Rippey with John Marston, Leslie Ann Crozier, Carol Seay, Emily Hargrove, Darla Ripley, Marie

Carol Seay, Marie Dean and Carmaleta Whiteley

Dean and Carmaleta Whiteley) gathered to hear about the plans. Here’s the scoop:

  • Ann Barbier-Mueller and Fay Sheehan

    The Smith sisters Ann Barbier-Mueller and Fay Sheehan will be the honorary co-chairs.

  • The theme is going to be Santa Fe Soiree.
  • Entertainment will be an acoustic performance by country-western star Collin Raye, who has Equest Development Director Linda Kordek-Milton‘s stamp of approval after she watched him perform at the Mesquite Rodeo.
  • The goal is to top last year’s total of $175K. They’re aiming for $250K and 400 guests.
  • Yes, there will be horsey-type activities once again showcasing Equest clients and volunteers.

Now, normally this event plus the annual Equest Women’s Auxiliary Luncheon and Fashion Show would be enough to defray the costs of the therapeutic horse program. But they’ve taken on a new challenge. According to Equest CEO Patrick Bricker, Equest is going to have a presence at the Texas Horse Park in the Great Trinity Forest. The Park is scheduled for groundbreaking April 1, 2013, and opening first quarter of 2014. With a vote being taken on Wednesday, December 12, he feels sure they have 12 or 13 votes on the Dallas city council for it and feels comfortable it is going to pass. Equest will have to pay its own operational expenses and plans to bring in one of the top horsemanship therapy people in the world to run the program.

Former First Lady Laura Bush Has Left The White House Days For Strolling Among HP Village’s Gingerbread Houses

Four Seasons Chef Randy Gehman, former First Lady Laura Bush and Four Seasons Executive Chef Christof Syre

You’d be surprised who has been making the Gingerbread Stroll in Highland Park Village for the good of Community Partners of Dallas.

Yup, former First Lady Laura Bush! But you don’t have to be a first lady to check out the little houses or even to vote on your fav at Celebrity Café & Bakery and/or buy a gingerbread man with the proceeds from the cookie sales going to the Community Partners of Dallas.

BTW, that vote will qualify you to win a $100 HPV gift certificate.

Gingerbread houses can be seen at Beretta Gallery, Billy Reid, Calame Jewelers, Carolina Herrera, Cole Haan, Deno’s of Highland Park, ESCADA, Haynsworth Frames, Kiehl’s Since 1851, Robert Talbott, SCOOP NYC, Trina Turk, Tom Thumb and Village Barber Shop.

Bad news: You’ve only got until Friday to see the delicious mansions. But if you win one via the silent auction, you’ll have the perfect centerpiece for the holidays.

Sorry, we have to dash to Celebrity to get a little gentleman for din-din and then head over to Tom Thumb for a quart of milk to enjoy with the little fellow.

Photo provided by Community Partners of Dallas

JUST IN: Dallas Museum Of Art Just Made History

Maxwell Anderson (File photo)

Dallas Museum of Art head man Maxwell Anderson just announced that starting January 21, there will be no general admission charged. Not only that, but membership will be free, too.

Whoa! This is a first in the nation’s art museum world. Can’t you just hear the slamming of foreheads against walls throughout the country as other museum directors try to figure out how they can follow suit?

There is a “but.” You just knew there would be. When it comes to special exhibitions like January’s The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk, there will be charges.

But even then, Maxxie has figured out how to make that palatable. Through the free membership, one can earn points that will add up to reduce the cost of admission to those “special exhibitions.”

According to the report filed by the Dallas Morning News’ Mike Granberry, Max said,

“When somebody from South Dallas walks up to the front desk, and the person behind the counter says, ‘Welcome to the DMA – are you members?’ What are they hearing? It’s like walking into a country club. It freaks you out. It’s exclusionary. I want everybody to feel they belong here, so I want everybody to be a member.”

He paused and added, “We don’t want to be heavy in Highland Park and light in South Dallas.”

This is a chancy but bold move by Max and the DMA board. Yes, they may lose revenue, but they just might gain a whole new following and reduce the stigma that the museum is only for the elite.

Speaking of those “elite” types, this step is only possible thanks to a lot of DMA “partners” (aka philanthropists).

Want to hear the news straight from Max? Here you go!

The Jewish Family Service’s Resale Shop Needs Your Stuff

The Jewish Family Service‘s Resale Shop is in need of help. It needs stuff for its January 13th opening. After all, what’s a store that’s running low on merchandise? So, if you have some “stuff,” take it to 5402 Arapaho Road on Sunday, December 9, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

So what is “stuff”?  Well, things like:

  • Clothing (men’s, women’s and children’s), shoes and linens
  • Houseware items
  • Books, movies, music and video games
  • Small electronics, TV/video equipment and game consoles (not TV’s)
  • Collectibles and knickknacks
  • Furniture and furnishings
  • Sporting goods

Ah, come on. You’ve been dreading the idea of editing that closet and garage, so now is a excellent time to do it. Not only will you make room for new goodies, you’ll let someone else enjoy what you no longer really, honestly need.

Funds raised from The Resale Shop will directly support Jewish Family Services’ mental-health and social services for anyone in need in the Greater Dallas community.

As the JFS says, “When you give good stuff, we can do great things.” Love that way of thinking.

A Quick Trip Down Memory Lane With Larry Hagman

Larry Hagman and Peter Fonda (File photo)

The shock of Larry Hagman‘s death is still settling in. Everyone at some point seems to have had their encounter with the poster child of Dallas. While most knew him from his bigger-than-life J.R. persona, there are also a number of little stories about the fella who found delight in everyday things.

MySweetCharity asked MSC guardian angel Charlene Howell if we could reprint a brief story about her ride with him.We are grateful she agreed.

Enjoy her memory:

“Several years ago (before the Winspear was built) Larry Hagman was in town for some Arts District event. I went to pick up Caroline [Rose Hunt] at the Crescent Hotel and there were Larry and his wife, Maj, waiting with her. Caroline insisted that we all go together in my Beetle. Then she and Maj climbed in the back seat. While driving them over to the Meyerson, Larry asked me how I liked my Beetle and I told him that I loved it! He responded that he loved his, too…only he had a turbo for the California hills!  So down to earth….

Go Red For Women Luncheon With Former First Lady Laura Bush

Laura Bush (File photo)

Go Red For Women Luncheon Co-chairs Kate Rose Marquez and Virginia Rose have all their ducks in a row for the Friday, February 1, event at the Hilton Anatole. For their keynote speaker is going to be former First Lady Laura Bush.

According to Kate Rose, who has had her own first-hand involvement with heart disease, Laura:

“has a long history of supporting the Go Red for Women Campaign. In fact, she was the spokesperson! We are thrilled that she will join us. This, combined with moving the luncheon from June to February 1 is going to make this the best Go Red for Women Luncheon ever!”

Makes perfect sense. After February is the month when everyone’s heart is in the right place.

Better place your order for tickets. In fact, why not put a table together to celebrate good health.

Perot Museum Of Nature And Science Proves To Be Wonder-full For Exploring And Partying

Perot Museum of Nature and Science all lit up

Before the Perot Museum of Nature and Science opens on December 1, it had been through more parties than most country clubs during the holidays. Lyda Hill had already celebrated her 70th birthday with friends and family there. The Perot family had a private get-together with 200 near and dear. On Wednesday, November 14, the media had been given three three-hour opportunities to explore the museum’s nooks and crannies. But the best was yet to come.

Thursday, November 15

There was the extra-special sponsors party for 500 on Thursday. The party had a stellar group made up of folks who either couldn’t make the following Saturday’s big gala, like T. Boone Pickens and Linda and Steve Ivy (they were going to be out of town) or Jan and Trevor Rees-Jones (they had a must-attend wedding slated), or those who just wanted to savor every opening celebration of the Perot Museum. After all, like a potato chip, one is just not enough.

The Thursday party was a sorta rehearsal for Saturday’s gathering of 2,000 for a “Night at the Museum” fundraiser. Adding to the cool factor of the evening was the check-in for the invitation-only affair. No traditional rectangular tables with guests queuing up and looking down at lists to see if their names were there. Heck, no. This was a state-of-the-art shindig and guests were immediately greeted by gals with electronic tablets who quickly checked off their names. Results? No long lines and immediate access to the wonder that lay within.

But just in case someone wondered if another friend had already arrived, no problemo. Just ask any of the ladies with tablets. Once a guest checked in, all tablets were updated.

L.L. and Ka Cotter

Dining on this evening, like Saturday night, would be no sit-yourself-down affair. There would be food stations with Wolfgang Puck offerings, allowing guests to never be hungry as they strolled on all floors of the new 180,000-square-foot museum. But on this night there would be a surprise celebration. It was also Margot Perot‘s birthday. So, in addition to a cake being presented to the Perot matriarch, a shower of shimmering fireworks cascaded outside the Level 1 Cafe as “Happy Birthday” was sung by the likes of Louise Eiseman, Ka and L.L. Cotter, Gillian and Mark Breidenbach with her folks, Karla and Liener Temerlin, Marla and Mike Boone and Katie Menges with gal-pal Marianne Talbot.

Saturday, November 17 — VIP Reception

Shelly Dee, Forrest and Sally Hoglund and Kristy Robinson

Before all the hoop-la started Saturday night, a VIP reception was held in the Lower Level of the museum. It was practically a family affair with Perots everywhere (Suzanne McGee in a

Suzanne McGee

 gold-and-teal Michael Faircloth; Museum Chair of the Board Carolyn Rathjen in a black something “from Neimans;” Ross Sr. talking about his new autobiography; Sarah Perot in gorgeous green with matching emerald earrings and necklace); and just about as many Hoglunds, including Museum Capital Campaign Chair Forrest Hoglund looking proud surrounded by all the ladies in his family life: Sally Hoglund wearing a pin of the building from Lyda Hill; Event Co-chair Kelly Compton passing the word that flip-flops were available if stilettos needing replacing.

Sally Hoglund’s pin from Lyda Hill

In the Children’s Museum, where the Crystal Charity Ball blimp hovered in a scene, 2011 CCB Chair Connie O’Neill was thrilled to see what had been accomplished with support from CCB efforts. . . Speaking of kids, Lyda Hill looked like one as she conducted tours of the Children’s Museum for her friends from Colorado Springs including Nancy Lewis. When asked what keeps her young, Lyda didn’t hesitate: “Fun and philanthropy. They both start with ‘F’!”

David and Emily Corrigan

As the crowd grew, it was becoming more and more difficult for video and still photographers to capture the VIPs. At times it appeared that the only one not crowded was the acrobat suspended over the musical staircase. There were just too many VIPs. Laura Wilson was in a tomato-red jacket looking splendid. When complimented on son Owen‘s presentation at the recent Klyde Warren Park opening, she admitted that he was dashing it off until the very last moment. BTW, Owen was turning 44 on November 18. . . Stacey Branch in black formal evening gown made a brief appearance. She had to head over to the Hilton Anatole, where her son Daniel was heading up the Idlewild Club’s presentation of the three 2012-2013 debs. . . Longtime driving force for the museum David Corrigan was taking wife Emily on a tour of all the exhibitions. . . A couple of gals were looking in their purses for lipstick. Seems their lips were getting chapped. Another one wished she had kept her fur coat, because she was feeling a little chilly. . .  VIP types also included Patricia and Curtis Meadows, Nancy and Jeremy Halbreich, Dr. Gail and Bob Thomas, Kelly Alpert, Stacy Blackmon, Linda and Bill Custard, Carol Reed with Jim Hayes and Holly Reed with Brad Beaird.

At 6:45 Kelly Compton stood on the musical stairs and took the mic thanking the evening’s

Thom Mayne

four big sponsors: Highland Capital, Margot and Ross, Neiman Marcus and Lyda. She said while she knew this would be a hot ticket, she was blown away by the response. She then explained how the evening would work. There would be a big surprise at 8:30, and “for those of you in high heels, please know that we have flip-flops available for you tonight.”

She was followed by 2005 Pritzker-Prize-winning/Perot Museum architect Thom Mayne, who saluted the construction team that weathered all conditions to bring the project in ahead of schedule and on budget.

Nicole Small

Following Thom was Museum CEO Nicole Small, who brought out the biggest laugh of the evening for this insider museum crowd: “Where’s Forrest? Oh, he’s back there. He’s trying to collect money at the door!”

Saturday, November 17 — The Main Event

Sports Hall Yet-To-Be-Named

As many made their way to up to the 1st Level, some opted to get a closer inspection of the Lower Level. In the very back of the floor was the area where CEOs and socialites became kids at summer camp in the “Yet-To-Be-Named Sports Hall.” While wife Kathy looked on, Cooper Institute CEO/President Todd Whitthorne took on the challenge of racing against a T. rex, despite the fact he hadn’t brought his cleats. As he crossed the finish line in second

Kathy and Todd Whitthorne

place, he said, “I’m going to be eaten.” . .  Mike Miles took his son for a walk-thru. . . .  In the Motion Lab, American Airlines VP Laura Einspanier tried her throwing arm against Roger Staubach. Seems she used to be quarterback for her intramural team at UT. After reviewing her video replay, she decided, “I need a real person. I’m gonna have Roger come look at it and give me some pointers.”. .  UT Southwestern President Dr. Daniel Podolsky tried his hand at the reaction test. How did he do? “A little under point 2.” He joked that he’d have different reaction times to different things — like reading a Dallas Morning News story, for example.

Waiting for the express escalator

But upstairs, the grand opening of the Perot Museum was proving that what goes up comes down — one way or another. With more than 2,000 of Dallas’ finest vying to see the inner workings of what some locals had described as the “rock wall,” the much-talked about see-through, one-way-only express escalator to the 4th level was proving to be way too popular. Due to crowded conditions, a museum staffer stood at the escalator’s base like a Stark Club bouncer from the ’80s. As word was transmitted that 4th level conditions were loosening up, guests were permitted entry. Those who chose not to wait opted instead for the elevators or the stairs.

Grazing on the 4th Level

And what was so great on the 4th level that kept guests there? A two-story tall Tyrannosaurus rex and the plant-eating Alamosaurus, the giant marine predator Mosasaurus, the Perot dinosaur, interactive programs for guests to feel like birds, and stuffed critters. While many settled back in seating pods with platters of Wolfgang Puck food, others strolled the aisles including Nancy and Richard Fisher. Nancy had broken a rib and has had her 92-year-old mother helping her in and out of cars. . . . Wandering among the late-greats were Neiman Marcus types like Vinnie (in black Lanvin) and Malcolm Reuben and Ken Downing, social types like JB Hayes, Angela Choquette, Jack Vaughn, Sue and Phil JohnBrenda and Nelson Spencer and Vinette and Mike Montgomery.

Getting down from the 4th floor was also proving to be a slight issue. Seems there was no “down escalator.” Once up there, guests could only leave via 750+ steps or in one of three glassed elevators. At one point in the evening one of the elevators took a break, requiring a tech to give it a once-over to get back to transporting guests.

Icy drinks

But the downward movement was well worth the effort. Among the treasures of energy and gems found on the 3rd level were more seating pods, food stations and a Ketele One bar to die for or, at least, to stand in line for, like Caren Prothro, Rena Pederson and Simona Beal. What was so amazing? Two three-foot-tall ice sculptures of Ketel One bottles with clear tubes running from top to an opening in the bottom just big enough for a martini glass. After a guest placed their order, they would place their glass in the opening. Then the server would shake the concoction and pour it into the tube. Management claimed that it chilled the drink just the right way. Evidently it did, as guests gave it rave reviews.

On the 2nd Level, where all forms of life were in place, the guests took turns playing interactive games. At one spot, folks built miniature buildings that were then tested for earthquakes and tornadoes.

Katie Boeck and Laena Myers-Ionita

All too quickly it was 8:30 p.m., and many heeded the suggestion to be in the Cafe on the 1st Level for a surprise. It was MASS Ensemble’s Katie Boeck playing the gargantuan Earth Harp. As the crescent moon shown overhead in the background, Katie’s black rosin-coated gloved hands

Drumbrella

plucked the shimmering strings that extended from the stage to eternity. The deep bass sound was so haunting that even the Malawisaurus standing on the other side of the room seemed to perk up. No sooner had Katie finished then MASS’s drumbella took center stage, with spinning drums being pounded at warp speed.

Kelly Compton

Following the performance, Event Co-chair Kelly climbed on stage and told guests that her co-chair/husband Brock was “out there somewhere.” Unbeknownst to her, he was seated just a few feet away. Introducing her father, she advised guests, “I encourage you all to hold on to your wallets right now.”

Forrest backed that thinking up by admitting “This is just the beginning. This is one of those blessed projects.”

Kelly Compton, Margot and Ross Perot Sr., Nicole Small, Carolyn Rathjen and Forrest Hoglund

But this evening was one for celebration. In the immediate days following, when the official ribbon-cutting would take place and thousands would discover the wonders within Thom Mayne’s “rock wall,” the initial mission of the Perots and hundreds of others would be accomplished —  to get more young people interested in math and science.

For more photos from the pre-opening festivities, check MySweetCharity’s Photo Gallery.

A Conductor’s Whistle Blows Open Ronald McDonald House Of Dallas’s 25th Anniversary Of The Trains At NorthPark

Waiting for the Trains at NorthPark to open

Saturday morning came early for some at NorthPark, but for most it couldn’t have been early enough. The occasion was the breakfast kick-off for the Trains at NorthPark benefiting Ronald

McDonald House of Dallas on the upper level next to Barneys. It was just 25 years ago that a couple of young gals (very young gals) by the names of Alan Engstrom and Alan Raynor hooked up with miniature train mastermind Ban Bywaters to display his amazingly active trains for the benefit of the RMHD.

Debbie and Alan Raynor

Over the years the trains and their displays grew in territory and sophistication. Why this year’s exhibition even includes the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf area, a new SMU building and the Museum Tower sans glare.

Jill Cumnock

According to RMHD CEO Jill Cumnock the 2011 holiday fundraise attracted close to 80,000 adults and children netting a total of $340K. Thanks to 2012 Trains Event Chair Cate Ford, 2,000 volunteers, Bob White‘s Bank of Texas, the NorthPark team and the trains running an extra week until January 7, they’re getting an extra week and hoping to hit close to half-a-million-dollars.

With the sun shining directly on the Trains’ windows and doors, guests waited for the official blow of the train whistle by Honorary Conductor Lila Grace Ruiz. But they weren’t just peeking in the windows to get an advanced look. They were getting autographs from celebs like Ronald himself and his fellow foodie Tom Thumb, having their faces painted, getting balloon critters made and chowing down thanks to Sneak Peak Chairs Taryn Cooper and Katie Head.

Just in the nick of time, WFAA-CH. 8 Janet St. James started things off with dignitaries thanking all involved, but the little ones didn’t really care. They wanted the doors to open. Finally, Lila Grace reluctantly put on her conductor’s cap, had her mom serve as her spokesperson and picked up her whistle to officially get those doors open. Within seconds, the place was filled with parents and children checking out the scenes and strollers being parked.

Maghann Ruiz, Lila Grace Ruiz and Janet St. James

For more photos of the morning’s festivities and faces, check MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

MySweetCharity Photo Gallery Alert: Trains At NorthPark Opening Breakfast

Alan Engstrom greeting her family

At the breakfast opening for the Trains at NorthPark benefiting the Ronald McDonald House of Dallas, it was a question of who was having the most fun. Check out the MySweetCharity Photo Gallery for kids of all ages.

Story to follow.

A Passing: Larry “Dallas’s J.R. Ewing” Hagman

Josh Henderson and Larry Hagman

Larry Hagman, the son of Mary Martin (aka “Peter Pan”) and Dallas’ best -known TV patriarch, died today at the age of 81.

He had just recently created the Larry Hagman Foundation to promote creativity among children in the underserved areas of Dallas.

He had also helped the Cattle Baron’s Ball live auction raise funds to fight cancer.

Larry was slated to be the keynote speaker at the upcoming AWARE luncheon this spring.

He was surrounded by his Dallas family including Patrick Ewing and Linda Gray during his finally hours at a Dallas-area hospital.

Our condolences are extended to his family, both personal and professional, as well as the many who benefited from his generosity and zest for life.

We’ll miss knuckle-bumping with him, his adorable smile and the mischievous twinkle in his eyes.

Kick Off The Holidays With Good News From St. Paul Medical Foundation

Michael and Betty Bullington and Mersina and Phin Stubbs (File photo)

So much to be thankful for this time of year. Need a for instance? How about the recent St. Paul Medical Foundation’s “Legends” concert with Burt Bacharach and the House of Blues? Word just arrived that Event Co-chairs Betty and Michael Bullington and Mersina and Phin Stubbs raised “a full 30% over the budgeted figure” for the UT Southwestern Heart, Lung and Vascular Program and the Cerebrovascular Program.

These “funds will help purchase the latest state-of-the-art equipment, and additional research into lifesaving therapies.”

Once again, the hard work undertaken by people like the Bullingtons and Stubbses make a lifesaving difference in the lives of people they may never meet. What a lovely way to start off the holidays!

MySweetCharity Elves Give Thumbs Up To Speilberg’s “Lincoln”

A cluster of the MySweetCharity elves showed up smacking with the smell of popcorn this afternoon. Seems they had gone to an extremely private showing of “Lincoln” where popcorn drenched in Land O’ Lake unsalted butter was served.

The eldest elf asked the coterie of elves if they liked Steven Spielberg‘s latest product. All agreed that it was spectacular — the acting, the lighting, everything.

“But,” asked the elder, “what did you get out of it besides popcorn breath?”

“Tad was adorable! I love Mary’s clothes! Oh, and when Tommy Lee Jones took off his wig. . .” squealed a frivolous elf.

All the elves gave “Frivvy” the side eye.

The most wrinkled elf said, “It reminded me of Kathryn McGarr‘s book on her great-uncle Bob Strauss. You know, the era in which Democrat Bob and Republican Jim Baker managed to work together in the political arena. You know, that point when compromise didn’t mean humiliation. It meant progress.”

Queenie, looking quite wrinkle-less thanks to a fierce workout with a steam iron, entered the room. She smiled. All the elves quivered. That is a look not seen very often.

She then “suggested” that perhaps the good people from the Museum Tower, Nasher Sculpture Center, Hostess management and unions should also be allowed a showing of the movie a time or two or three. As she said, “Until it sinks in.” 

On this day of Thanksgiving, let’s all remember this state-of-mind and state-of-being were earned through tears, bloodshed and working together.

Now, go eat a turkey and don’t be one.

CityLights 2012 Lights Up Saturday Night

CityLights past (File photo)

How about a cheap date to kick off the holidays? Downtown Dallas Inc., the City of Dallas, Neiman Marcus, Headington Companies, The Joule and ForestCity are going to provide you with a real freebie Saturday night — CityLights 2012.

Here’s the schedule of events:

  • 7 p.m. — Official tree lighting ceremony and Santa arrives at Main Street Garden
  • 7 to 10 p.m. — Chance Dunlap: “Metalicious” at 1408 Elm Street
  • 7 to 10 p.m. — Gary Farrelly: “Terminal Compositions” at 110 N. Akard
  • 8 p.m. — Santa will be available for grip and grin photos on the Main Stage at Main Street Garden
  • 8 p.m. (approx.) — “Its a Wonderful Life” is shown at Griffin St. and Main St.

The following activities will be taking place from 6 to 10 p.m.:

  • Holiday Festival along Main Street with vendors, performers, food, movies and more!
  • Neiman Marcus Crawl Tube Experience Neiman Marcus (Ervay St. and Main St.)
  • Cocktail Corner featuring the Neiman Marcus Holiday Butterfly Collection Belo Garden (Griffin St. and Main St.)
  • Cocktail Corner featuring $5 Campfire Martinis, S’mores Hot Cocoa from Iron Cactus and the Neiman Marcus Holiday Car Tree Pegasus Plaza (Akard St. and Main St.)
  • Chinese Lantern Festival “Dragon & Phoenix” Float Display One Main Place (Griffin St. and Main St.)

Last year this event attracted 50,000, so get there early.