2017 La Fiesta De Las Seis Banderas Team Handed Out A Whopping $462,750 To 15 Park Cities Non-Profits

Rebecca Gregory and Nancy Monning

As the sun was slowly switching place with a perfect full moon on Thursday, September 7, the North Texas Food Bank’s Harvest underwriters were gathering at Mud Hen to celebrate the upcoming Friday, September 15 fundraiser. Across town in Highland Park Village’s Mockingbird Room, there were more happy faces. The occasion was the check distribution of 2017 La Fiesta Des Las Seis Banderas checks. Needless to say, when it comes to doling out the dough, the crowd is polished shoulder to shoulder.

Euan Blackman and Anne Besser

The biggest smiles were on the faces of La Fiesta Co-Chairs Rebecca Gregory and Nancy Monning along with Gala Co-Chairs Anne Besser and Michelle Johnson and Las Fiesta Board President Mary Hubbard. There was good reason. The take for the Saturday, June 10 black-tie fundraiser was $462,750. Just who says fundraising dries up in the summer?

On hand to accept checks and provide big old smiles were HPISD Superintendent Tom Trigg and wife Julie Trigg, The Family Place’s Paige Flink and Habitat for Humanity’s Euan Blackman.

Mary Hubbard, Michelle Johnson, Amy Hughes and Paige Flink

Tom Trigg, Kelly Walker and Jim Hitzelberger

The check presentation included:

  • Dallas Heritage Village — $5,000
  • Moody Family YMCA — $3,500
  • CARE (Chemical Awareness Resources and Education) — $12,640
  • Connecting Point of Park Cities — $19,500
  • The Elisa Project — $18,500
  • The Family Place — $10,000
  • Friends of the University Park Public Library — $30,500
  • HP Arts — $60,000
  • HPHS Community Service Council — $8,000
  • HPHS Habitat for Humanity Campus Center — $10,000
  • HPHS Science Festival — $1,600
  • HPHS Counseling Department and Student Council — $3,000
  • Highland Park Literary Festival — $26,000
  • HPHS Student Emergency Fund — $4,000
  • Highland Park Education Foundation — $250,510

More good news included the fact that Anne will cho-chair 2018 La Fiesta with her buddy Elizabeth Gambrell for the fundraiser that return to the Hilton Anatole for a summer sojourn.

2017 La Fiesta De Las Seis Banderas Came Off Flawlessly Despite Some Behind-The-Scenes Hiccups

There was the most glorious, huge orange sphere hovering over North Texas on Saturday, June 10. After days of drizzle, lighting and thunder, the skies were pristine. And this was summer!

Over at The Fairmont Dallas, it was equally perfect for the 31st  Annual La Fiesta de Las Seis Banderas … except for a needle and thread situation and too many toasts.

Rebecca Gregory and Nancy Monning

But first the backstory. Overseeing the months of La Fiesta preparations were Rebecca Gregory and Nancy Monning. Among the committee heads were the Gala Co-Chairs Anne Besser and Michelle Johnson. Those four were known for running a tight ship and still maintaining a smile and cool composure. Each year one of the six flags that had been part of Texas history was selected as the theme. This year it was France, and the ladies were delighted with the theme “La Fete Royal.” They were inspired by the 2017 beneficiaries (C.A.R.E., Connecting Points of Park Cities, The Elisa Project, The Family Place, Friends of University Park Library, Highland Park Education Foundation, Highland Park Literary Festival, HP Arts, HPHS Community Service Council, HPHS Counseling Department and Student Council, HPHS Habitat for Humanity Campus Chapter, HPHS Science Festival, HPHS Student Emergency Fund, HPHS Youth and Government/Moody Family YMCA and Park Cities Heritage House at Dallas Heritage Village) to raise the funds.

Anne Besser and Michelle Johnson

But hiccups happen even to the best.

The first one was a real hit. The Anatole had to pull out from holding the event due to a convention or something. Anne and Michelle put out calls and locked down The Fairmont. The smiles said it turned out to work with the French theme, since The Fairmont was French-owned.

But Anne, who will be overall co-chair with Elizabeth Gambrell for 2018, reported that not only would they be returning to the Anatole, but the Anatole team came through this year with additional staging without a charge or hesitation.  

As for the relocation, it required some adjustments. The tried-and-true, 17,967-square-foot Fairmont Regency Ballroom just didn’t have as much space as the 30,360-square-foot Anatole’s Chantilly Ballroom. So sacrifices had to be made. The number one was the dance floor, which meant no post-presentation dance for the couples. Another issue was accommodating all who wanted to attend. The tables of black-tie guests were downright cozy.

But it was all coming together. After all, it was the first time that the Duchesses, who had just finished their freshman year in college, were able to see former high school classmate. It was like a black-tie class reunion.

However, the mammoth group pictures that were to be taken in the ballroom as parents and friends cocktailed in the adjoining lobby ran into a bump in the road. Photographer James French and his team were already with cameras in hand. The ladder was set dead center at the end of the runway. The idea of photographing 40 Duchesses in ball gowns and their escorts was a daunting challenge. But James and his folks were old hands at this situation.

2017 Duchesses and escorts waiting for the final four

However, it seemed that not all the Duchesses and escorts realized this wasn’t a casual selfie. There was a schedule to be kept. The escort group photo was delayed by five minutes due to some MIA escorts. Next, the group photo of all 40 Duchesses and their 40 escorts was on the list. Only when the headcount took place, four Duchesses were missing. It seems they were “being sewn into their gowns.” Five minutes passed, then 10. The couples that had stood so erect for the photo setup were now seated on the stage. The clock kept ticking, and still the foursome was missing. Evidently one designer was responsible for all four dresses. When James was asked if they should go ahead and shoot the photo without the four, the presentation photo vet knew just the right answer: “That’s not my call.”

Napkin with honey bee ornament

Still they waited. Finally, just minutes before the ballroom doors opened, the tardy Duchesses arrived to applause by the 76.

Quickly, the group photo and the Duchesses’-only photo were taken. James removed the ladder and just in time, as the doors to the ballroom opened and the chimes called all 900 guests to their seats, where they discovered elegant place settings with napkins tied in bows and topped off with French symbolic honey bee ornaments.

Eliza Parker, Jackson Parker and Gwen and Doug Parker

Rick and Allison Kraft and Angela and Brad Cheves

Jack Gosnell and Ellison Gosnell

Around the room were the Parker clan (Gwen and Doug Parker with their kids Eliza Parker and Jackson Parker) to see son Luke Parker escorting Lillian Cockerell, Angela and Brad Cheves were on hand for son/escort Conner Cheves, who was escorting Duchess Sarah Unkefer, Leslie and Jack Gosnell were front-rowing it for daughter/Duchess Ellison Gosnell. Was it really that long ago that Jack had been the escort pick of the debutante crowd?

Rock Le Minuette

Rock Le Minuette

The presentation started off with the escorts parading from the back of the ballroom via the runway to their places on the stage. Then a couple arrived on stage dressed in 18th century French attire and started performing “Rock Le Minuette,” starting with an elegant Baroque  with the escorts in the background. Suddenly, the mood changed with the male assisting the young woman out of her billowing skirt revealing long legs encased in fishnet stockings. The tempo picked up and so did the couple as the gent picked her up on his shoulder and whirled around. Still the escorts stood solemnly. 

2017 La Fiesta De Las Seis Banderas escorts

After a brief welcome by Rebecca and Nancy, the escorts (Nick Alexander, Paxton Baird, Grayson Borrego, Henry  Bould, Watson Brown, Christopher Buell Jr., Harrison Buford, Ty Burke Jr., William Caldwell, Kevin Cassidy, Conner Cheves, JD Cochran, Cole Ellis, Robert Farrow, Vale Fitzpatrick IV, Stanton Geyer, Thomas Glieber, Chase Govett, Garrett Hall, Bobby Hrncir, Cade Kimzey, William Kraft V, Parker Lacour, Mitchell Laughlin, Spencer Lorio, Jack Martin III, Hoyt Matise, Charles Mencke III, Wade Nicolas III, Charlie O’Brien, Austin Overton, Luke Parker, Adam Rathjen, Turner Rejebian, Barton Showalter, Benjamin Smith, Zach Snelling, Sam Stewart, Matthew Vandermeer and Hunt Wood Jr.) were individually introduced and exited. Then the formal presentation took place, with eight Duchesses being introduced on their fathers’ arm. As each of the 40 Duchesses (Emily Anwar, Clara Beecherl, Elizabeth Bradshaw, Kate Brayshaw, Laura Brayshaw, Anna Buford, Jeanne Ann Bullington, Helena Burns, Ellie Bush, Keaton Calhoun, Emily Carvell, Lillian Cockerell, Annie Combs, Elizabeth Cooper, Katie Dalton, Elizabeth DeBeer, Fields Dunston, Maddie Fehlman, Ellison Gosnell, Claire Green, Kristen Haggerty, Elizabeth Hubbard, Shanley Huckabee, Savanna Jones, Hannah Jurgensmeyer, Kendall Klingaman, Lane McCormick, Alexandra McGeoch, Caroline McGeoch, Dorothy Meachum, Clare Obenchain, Caroline Robertson, Avery Roosien, Peyton Schlachter, Madison Stuart, Madison Tedford, Madeline Toole, Sarah Unkefer, Emily Weisfeld and Erica Yaguchi) walked the runway, emcee Al Raya described her duchy.

2017 La Fiesta De Las Seis Banderas Duchesses

It came off without a hitch on stage.

Jeanne Anne Bullington and Michael Bullington

Elizabeth DeBeer and Bob DeBeer

Claire Green and Arthur Green

Sam Dalton and Katie Dalton

Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite the same in the audience. During the early part of the presentation, the guests were quiet to hear the narration and to watch the deep bows. However, by the fourth round of eight couples, some adults had been fueled by trips to the bar, resulting in their returning to their tables and sounding oblivious that there were still Duchesses being announced. A couple of gals were feeling no pain as they greeted friends at a nearby table loud enough that the announcer couldn’t be heard.

2017 La Fiesta De Las Seis Banderas Duchesses and escorts

But the Duchesses and escorts soldiered on, concluding with all 80 on stage for a final bravo. They then joined their families and friends for a seated dinner, followed by dancing and a “late-night party” in the International Ballroom.

However, some of the honorees didn’t quite make it to the International Ballroom. It seems that the day’s activities may have gotten the best of one or two of them. It surely couldn’t have been due to imbibing, though, since organizers had stated in the program, “It is unlawful to serve alcoholic beverages to anyone under the age of twenty-one. Valid identification will be required.”

For more than 50 photos of the Duchesses and guests, check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

The Weather Played Nice For La Fiesta De Las Seis Banderas’ “Under The Stars” To Be Out In The Open At Gwen And Doug Parker’s Casa

Rebecca Gregory, Gwen Parker and Nancy Monning

When La Fiesta de Las Seis Banderas organizers woke up to raindrops on their roofs, lightning in the air and thunder overhead, it didn’t bode well for their “Under The Stars” event on Friday, June 9. Sure, Gwen and Doug Parker’s 12,000-square-foot Park Cities home could handle the expected 300 Duchesses, escorts, parents, and underwriters. But they had so hoped for a true night under the stars.

Megan Saustad and Pam Stegenga

Evidently, the evening’s Co-Chairs Megan Saustad and Pam Stegenga had pull. By early afternoon, not only had the stormy weather gone elsewhere, but the temperatures became so downright friendly that one gal with bare shoulders thought out loud, “It might get chilly.”

As event photographer James French snapped photos out front, the highlights inside the home and in the backyard were:

  • The Parkers’ turf ground-covering validated Gwen’s decision to have it installed, instead of the need-be-mowed green stuff. Despite the rains earlier in the day, the big backyard with tables and chairs was dry and stiletto-friendly.
  • A string trio—two violins and a cello—were playing softly in the entryway.

    Ben Smith, Elizabeth Cooper, Clare Obenchain and Grayson Borrego

  • Elizabeth Cooper and Clare Obenchain admitted that their so-perfect tans were the real thing and not the spray-on variety.
  • Harrison Buford, Anna Buford, Claire Green and Robert Farrow

    In taking an accounting of high school roots, Robert Farrow was from Cambridge School, Anna Buford was a Hockadaisie and Harrison Buford and Claire Green were Highland Park Scots.

    Sonoma chicken salad croissants

  • The food on the dining-room table reflected the French theme, thanks to Sonoma chicken salad croissants, macaronis au fromage, steak au poivre crostini and spinach and mushroom quiche.
  • Doug Parker, who’s chairman and CEO of American Airlines Group, didn’t make it. He was out of town on business. Boo-hooed one attendee: “I’m sad Doug’s not gonna be here!” Parker’s presence was still felt, though: on the fireplace mantel in one cozy, white-plaster-walled room, there was a black-and-white plaque that read, “Behind Every Good Kid Is A Great Dad.”
  • Gwen Parker, looking around the house, said they were almost empty-nesters. Despite son Luke Parker in from New York University to be a La Fiesta escort and son Jackson Parker in from Nashville to watch his brother, the Parker household was down to daughter, Eliza Parker, still living in the nest while attending Hockaday.
  • Also in keeping with La Fiesta’s French theme, the servers wore red neckerchiefs and berets.

It was an early evening, though, because the big gala at The Fairmont was the next night, and a crowd of 900—believed to be the biggest ever—was expected to show up. Funds from the summer extravaganza will benefit C.A.R.E., Connecting Points of Park Cities, The Elisa Project, The Family Place, Friends of University Park Library, Highland Park Education Foundation, Highland Park Literary Festival, HP Arts, HPHS Community Service Council, HPHS Counseling Department and Student Council, HPHS Habitat for Humanity Campus Chapter, HPHS Science Festival, HPHS Student Emergency Fund, HPHS Youth and Government/Moody Family YMCA and Park Cities Heritage House at Dallas Heritage Village.

La Fiesta De Las Seis Banderas Moms Celebrated The Gala’s French Flair At Chanel Dallas Boutique With Sips And Lipsticks

Making the rounds Thursday, February 23, was a killer. As awards were being handed out by Rainbow Days at the Bush Center, it was a scamper to Highland Park Village’s Chanel, where Chanel Dallas Boutique Director Pilar Bleakley hosted a reception for the mothers of the 2017 La Fiesta de Las Seis Banderas duchess and escorts.

Nancy Monning, Pilar Bleakley and Rebecca Gregory

Can you say, “Blow out!”? La Fiesta Co-Chair Nancy Monning admitted that it was a true honor to have had Chanel hold the event that was being chaired by last year’s La Fiesta Co-Chairs Eloise Meachum and Missy Rothwell. And evidently all the moms agreed with their presence.

Missy Rothwell, Maria Constantine and Eloise Meachum

But the 80 or so ladies didn’t just succumb to being honored, they just loved the video with designer Karl Lagerfeld, the timeless Chanel designs, getting to know each other and shopping. Of course, the hottest item was lipstick, with Nancy laughing that “we’ll have La Fiesta Lips by Chanel.”

As for the refreshments, they were donated by Two Sisters Catering’s Connie Chantilis, who just so happens to be the sister of Rosanne Beck, who creates the custom La Fiesta invitations.

This year’s theme for the Saturday, June 10th fundraiser will be French, in honor of the French connection with Texas. So having the moms’ reception at the French couture Chanel boutique was a natural.

But Nancy and her La Fiesta Co-Chair Rebecca Gregory have proved their flexibility on another event. It seems that the La Fiesta “Tips and Tidbits” was scheduled on Wednesday, May 10. Oops! After it was announced that the New Friends New Life Luncheon with Ashton Kutcher would be taking place at the same time, Nancy and her La Fiesta Co-Chair simply “moved our event until 1:00 the same day, so we can attend both.”

Another change of plans was the location of the presentation gala itself. Despite being originally scheduled to hold the fundraiser gala at the Anatole, the hotel had to pull back due to a pharmaceutical convention. No problem. A couple of phone calls by Nancy, Rebecca and Presentation Gala Co-Chairs Anne Besser and Michelle Johnson resulted in the gala returning to French-owned Fairmont Hotel. Ooh-la-la.