Oldtimers love to play the memory game of playing the “Remember when…. at NorthPark?” Such names as Kips Big Boy’s hot fudge sundaes, “Mrs. Pierce” at The Carriage Shop, Magic Pan’s Cherries Royale Crepes, The Melody Shop’s Jack Jacobs and, of course, Ron Chapman hosting “Sump’n Else” with “The Little Group” — Joanie Prather, Delpha Teague, Kathy Forney and Calleen Anderegg. The game has been the favorite topic of late thanks to the 50th anniversary of the legendary shopping center that was built because of the determination of Patsy and Ray Nasher.
To celebration anniversary, Patsy’s and Ray’s daughter Nancy Nasher and her husband David Haemisegger staged a great reveal on the exact day — August 19 — and time that 50 years ago NP opened in 1965.
Before the 250 nonprofit representatives and longtime NP friends took their seats in NP’s North Court on Wednesday, August 19, numerous memories were being exchanged. NP General Manager Billy Hines, who has probably worn out countless shoes walking the grounds, reminisced about his 40+ years at NP. He had seen the center through the transition of the family ownership, the massive expansions and more holiday shopping that the NP Santa. When asked how he felt about being part of the NP family, he looked across the court at Nancy and David receiving congratulations, smiled and said, “I am honored to have been a part of it.”
No sooner had the words been spoken, then Billy was tapped on the shoulder by the SPCA’s James Bias. They’re old buddies like Dallas CASA’s Kathleen LaValle and other nonprofits that have benefited from NP’s support.
As pianist Gary Beard and trumpeter Ryan Anthony serenaded the group, guests like Dallas Women’s Foundation’s Ros Dawson, University of North Texas’ Susan Collins Sanders, The Family Place’s Paige Flink, Children’s Kern Wildenthal and Lori Wagner, Crystal Charity Ball’s Michal Powell, Team Connor’s Carolyn Alvey, Jamie Singer and Kathryn Copple, Genesis Women’s Shelter’s Jan Langbein, Dallas Habitat for Humanity’s Bill Hall, Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s Jonathan Martin, Vogel Alcove’s Karen Hughes, Nasher Sculpture Center’s Jeremy Strick and Jill Magnuson, Dallas Museum of Art’s Max Anderson and so many others took their places.
Nancy welcomed the invited guests plus onlookers telling them that the tune that Gary and Ryan had just played — “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning” —was the same one played 50 years ago with the late Gordon MacRae singing. She briefly recalled being a 10-year-old handing our programs and wearing a dress and a pin that her mother had designed for her. (Nancy didn’t mention that the next day was her birthday.)
Just for a moment she seemed to be back in that day when a retailing legend was introduced to the world despite naysayers. Yes, there were those who thought a enclosed shopping center with pieces of artwork on display was pretty gutsy. And the very idea of plopping it down in a cow pasture across from a cemetery miles away from downtown Dallas? Well! But her parents had a vision for both NorthPark and Dallas and she and David picked up the banner and carried it on.
One of those ways that Nancy and David were continuing the legacy was by supporting the area nonprofits. To do that they announced the creation of a unique program — NorthPark50: 50 Years of Giving. Following a brief video, it was announced that 50 area nonprofits would reap benefits for the next 50 days. How that would take place was alluded to, but nothing definite was announced. Instead guests were told to check social media daily for status reports.
Brent then took the podium telling of Dallas’ national reputation for generosity in supporting the nonprofits. He kept his remarks brief because he wasn’t telling this group anything they didn’t already know.
It was also revealed by Brent that unlike years past when NTGD was held with various activities throughout Dallas, it would be held at NorthPark in North Court on Thursday, September 17.
Nancy returned to the stage and told of Ryan’s battle against multiple myeloma and how impressed she was at “Blow for Cancer” when Ryan the country’s finest horn musicians performed. She asked Ryan to come to the stage and perform one more tune —“Gabriel’s Oboe” — that he had performed at the March fundraiser. As the haunting notes floated through the air, all activity in the center seemed to stop. Perhaps it was proof that thanks to funding for cancer research and treatments, even cancer couldn’t quell Ryan’s talent. At its conclusion, Ryan received a standing ovation.
Then Nancy thanked all and asked for representatives from the NorthPark 50 nonprofits to come to the stage for a group photo. This gathering proved to be entertaining as various stagings were attempted to fit all 50 plus on the stage, off stage, with chairs on stage, with chairs off state. Nobody minded. After all, they had 50 days of surprises ahead.