Talk about scrambling your eggs! That was the recipe for the Turtle Creek Conservancy’s launch announcement for its Luminary Circle Dinner on Thursday, October 6. Put another way, it was an “accidental” scrambling of two separate events.
At 4:30 p.m., a private gathering took place at Arlington Hall to honor Reuben Naranjo, who was retiring after 44 years of tending and then managing Dallas Park and Recreation properties throughout the area. Attending the small retirement event were city officials like Dallas City Councilwoman Gay Donnell Willis, Park and Recreation Director John D. Jenkins and Park and Recreation Board Chair Arun Agarwal.
But the retirement celebration for Reuben didn’t end as scheduled. Instead of heading out the door when it was over, Gay and others somehow moseyed over to the southside terrace, where the Luminary launch event was set to take place with 40 or 50 invited guests in attendance. Sorta like being at a conference in one ballroom of a hotel and moving next door to a wedding reception.
As the program began, TCC President Tiffany Divis took her place on the steps and, to start, graciously acknowledged Gay, who had been her predecessor and had asked to say a couple of words.
That was when things went off the rails. Standing on the steps and addressing the crowd, Gay commandeered the program.
Luminary guests like Diane and Hal Brierley, Paul Dyer, Cynthia and Tom Mitchell, Gail Fischer, Ann and Bob Dyer, Boyd Messmann, Beth Layton, Shannon Graham, Michael Faircloth and David Davidson, Lisa Cooley, Sarah Dodd and Lynn McBee watched in admiration and amazement.
They had been there to learn the details of the brand-new TCC fundraiser. Instead, City Councilwoman Gay was going on about Reuben’s dedication, dependability, work ethic and retirement plans, and praising the leadership of Jenkins and Agarwal. All three men looked flattered but also a bit bewildered at this impromptu praise. The guests looked baffled, too.
Was the Luminary Circle dinner going to honor Reuben?
While guests waited in anticipation for the punchline connection with the Luminary event, TCC staffers stoically stood their ground. Eyeball exchanges among Team TCC looked like an Olympic table-tennis final. But, what could they do?
When one guest mumbled that Gay was playing politics by hijacking the Luminary gathering as her bully pulpit, another set them straight, pointing out that Gay had a right to do so because she represents the Turtle Creek district. But, they were wrong. Paul Ridley actually represents the Turtle Creek district — and he’d left before the Luminary program began.
Following Gay’s raising a glass for a toast to Reuben — “To your retirement!” she exclaimed — Tiffany returned the subject to the Luminary Dinner on Tuesday, November 9. The dinner, she said, will be co-chaired by Pat and Charles McEvoy at the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek and salute TCC’s top donors (i.e., Master Gardeners, Visionary and above).
As photographers scrambled to photograph the unexpected guests Reuben, John and Arun, guests congratulated Reuben on his retirement. But they left still wondering what they had just witnessed.