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At the Law Offices of Dana C. Palmer, they believe that divorce doesn’t have to be so hard.

as a battle, with each spouse trying to extract as much money as possible from the other, then no one ‘wins.’

“What we try to do is get people through a divorce in the healthiest way possible so that everyone can move on to the next chapter in their lives, in the best way possible,” says Dana, creator of the Soft Divorce® brand. “We don’t define success by the other party’s failure. Instead, our goal is for our client, their children, and even their soon-to-be-ex-spouse, to be as healthy as possible after the divorce.”

“I’m the type of person who is always looking for a better way to do something—and when I find that better way, I feel compelled to share it with others,” Dana explains. “That’s why I’m now sharing the Soft Divorce® program worldwide.”

A better way to divorce It’s a concept that Dana created after focusing his law firm in McKinney on family law in 2011. “I opened the firm in 2006, practicing a wide variety of cases. I soon realized that family law cases provided me with the biggest opportunity to help people and that’s when I decided to narrow my focus,” Dana says. Quickly, he says, he saw that when divorce is approached

Dana C. Palmer

Soft Divorce® is a concept and framework of the best practices in family law and divorce procedures that aim to keep divorces civil, family-oriented, healthy and as painfree and stress-free as possible. “I believe in Soft Divorce® because it’s better than a ‘hard divorce.’” Dana says. “At the end of the day, former spouses will always be parents together and they need to have the best possible relationship with one another, as well as with their kids. A Soft Divorce® allows for that.”

Happier, healthier results Of course, the firm’s approach doesn’t mean that they’ll simply “lie down” and take whatever the other party’s attorney is offering. “There are times that we have to, and we do, ‘play hard-ball,’” Dana says. “We go into court knowing that we’ve taken the high road, but we’re willing to do whatever it takes to get the healthy result we’re after.” When prospective clients first hear about the firm’s Soft Divorce brand, Dana says, they’re often relieved to discover that there’s a healthier way to go through the divorce process. “You always see on TV and hear about divorces where people end up hating each other and losing so much,” he says. “We show people a different and better way.” For more information, please call or visit our website.


October 2013

Vol. 23, Issue 10

cover story 58 Take a walk on the wild side

In 2003, Larry and Sandra Billings opened their business building animatronic dinosaurs. The Allen-based Billings Productions manufactures and leases life-sized animatronic dinosaurs, primarily to zoos and museums around the world, and gives our town bragging rights to being the birthplace of the next best thing to a real live dinosaur. by Peggy Helmick-Richardson


feature 22 On a downhill slide

Allen’s Johnny Quinn is one of dozens of athletes vying for a spot on the United States bobsled team set to compete in the winter Olympics in Russia in 2014. by Simon Valentin

special sections 28 kids korner


Haunted Halloween by Deborah Dove

38 interiors

Timelessly chic transitional style by Dawn Bluemel Oldfield

46 pet page Scout

47 calendar 66 people seen

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For a chance to win a $50 dining card

contents departments civic forum 10

Live from Allen Event Center by Jeff Mues



CCMGA 2013 Bulb & Perennial Mart by Dawn Bluemel Oldfield


New state-of-the-art education tool by Kathleen Vaught


Think pink by Jeff Mues



Civil War Encampment

Allen Image publisher/editor Barbara Peavy

office administrator Carrie McCormick

advertising sales Sue Hardesty Kris Jones

contributing writers Heather Darrow

by Anne Gifford

Deborah Dove


National Night Out

Anne Gifford

Fall Bazaar

Tom Keener

Ride for Kids

Jeff Mues


CCHS Boot Scootin’ Pet Benefit

Dawn Bluemel Oldfield

CCMGA receives international award

Peggy Helmick-Richardson


Simon Valentin Kathleen Vaught

by Tom Keener



The deadliest of natural disasters


Roberta Shore

“Creature Feature” month


The great hanging


Teetering near the brink of a black hole

travel 34

Taking a bite of the Big Apple by Deborah Dove

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Larry Fleming

education by Heather Darrow


cover photo

living green 44

Eco-Friendly Options for Pets by Dawn Bluemel Oldfield

Allen Image © 2013 by Moonlight Graphics. All rights reserved. Allen Image is published by Moonlight Graphics and individually mailed free of charge to the residents of the Allen area. Subscriptions are available to residents outside the delivery area at a rate of $2.50 per issue—$30 per year. Subscription and editorial correspondence should be sent to: Allen Image, P.O. Box 132, Allen, TX 75013, 972.727.4569, fax 972.396.0807 or visit our website at www.allenimage. com.

civic forum

Live from

it’s Saturday Night! by Jeff Mues

Specifically, we’re looking forward to Saturday night, October 19, when Dana Carvey, Dennis Miller and Kevin Nealon will headline a jam-packed triple bill of great stand-up comedy at Allen Event Center. That’s three of the most legendary comedic talents ever cast on NBC’s Saturday Night Live performing a special one-nightonly engagement right here in Allen! Tickets are on sale now and still available via and Allen Event Center box office, but they are selling very quickly. Starring together on Saturday Night Live from 1986 to 1991, Carvey, Miller and Nealon are largely credited with saving the iconic show, which had sunk in the ratings to the point of being on the chopping block in 1985. Popular sketches such as “Pumping up with Hans and Franz,” (Carvey and Nealon) “Wayne’s World,” (Carvey) and Miller and Nealon’s work behind the “Weekend Update” anchor desk, played an integral role in the show’s resurgence with the era of Carvey, Miller and Nealon being widely hailed

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Dana Carvey by critics as among the show’s best. They have all gone on to successful careers and have very rarely shared the stage since. So don’t miss your chance to see a performance that is every bit as historic as it will be hilarious! On Saturday Night Live, Carvey was known for playing some very unique characters—the Church Lady; Hans, of the Hans and Franz body building duo; the Grumpy Old Man of “Weekend Update;” and Garth, Wayne Campbell’s (Mike Myers) “Excellent Co-Host” on Wayne’s World. In addition to these characters, Carvey has received widespread praise for his stand-up routine and uncanny

comedic impersonations of such political figures as ex-President George Bush, H. Ross Perot, Jerry Brown, David Duke and Bob Dole. He also does impersonations of George Burns, Johnny Carson, Jimmy Stewart, John McLaughlin, Mickey Rooney, Casey Casem and Regis Philbin among others. He has received a total of six Emmy nominations, winning one in 1993 for Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program. He was also honored with The American Comedy Award as Television’s Funniest Supporting Male in 1990 and 1991. Since 2007 Dennis Miller has been heard five days a week on his

nationally-syndicated Dial Global (formerly Westwood One) radio talk show, “The Dennis Miller Show.” He is also a regular contributor for The O’Reilly Factor on the FOX News Channel. Miller is a five-time Emmy award winner for his critically acclaimed half-hour, live talk show Dennis Miller Live which had a nineyear run on HBO. Miller also garnered three Writer’s Guild of America Awards for the series as well as an additional WGA Award for his 1997 HBO special, Dennis Miller: Citizen Arcane. Miller has done it all, from writing and starring in Emmy-nominated cable comedy specials (Raw Feed) to being cast in dramatic film roles, most notably Disclosure, in 1994; The Net, in 1995; and 1997’s Murder at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Miller has also achieved success in the literary arena with four books, I Rant Therefore I Am, The Rants, Ranting Again and The Rant Zone, having all achieved New York Times best seller status. For two seasons, Miller took his act to the broadcast booth, calling the plays alongside Al Michaels and NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Fouts on ABC’s Monday Night Football. He was also the “Weekend Update” correspondent on Saturday Night Live for six years, before exiting in 1991. Kevin Nealon first burst on the scene during his nine-year stint as a cast member of Saturday Night Live with contributions to “Weekend Update” and playing such characters as Franz, Mr. Subliminal and Tarzan. Nealon, who made his film debut in the 1987 romantic comedy, Roxanne, with Steve Martin, has gone on to star in more than two dozen comedies, including Happy Gilmore and The Wedding Singer, both with Adam Sandler, Anger Management with Jack Nicholson, Daddy Day Care with Eddie Murphy, Grandma’s Boy with Rob Schneider and David Spade and Just Go With It with Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston and Nicole Kidman. He has also starred in the Showtime one-hour stand up special

Kevin Nealon: Now Hear Me Out and authored the book, Yes, You’re Pregnant but What About Me? Recently, Nealon received critical acclaim for his role in the Showtime series Weeds. Another recent high profile gig was on Nick at Nite’s stopmotion animated series Glenn Martin, DDS, where Nealon was the voice of the title role. With so much star power sharing one stage right here in Allen, it’s hard to not be “pumped up” like Hanz and

Franz. Will Carvey and Nealon reprise those roles and will Dennis Miller poke fun of their “puny muscles” as only he can? There’s only one way to find out for sure but a good time and plenty of laughs are a certainty. So get your tickets today and plan to join us v Saturday Night, October 19! Jeff Mues is a senior marketing coordinator with the Allen Event Center and Allen Parks and Recreation Department.

Allen Image x October 2013


CCMGA 2013 Bulb & Perennial Mart by Dawn Bluemel Oldfield

Say farewell to summer and dig in now by planting the promise of spring! In our part of the country there is still time to add bulbs and perennials to the garden. In fact, fall is one of the best times for gardening. Join the Collin County Master Gardeners Association on October 5, in the Stall Barn at Myers Park and Event Center in McKinney, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. to learn more about, and purchase, the best selections of bulbs and perennials.

“Nature gives to every time and season some beauties of its own.” – Charles Dickens The 2013 Annual Bulb and Perennial Mart is a one-day shopping opportunity and an introduction to some of the best, hard to find heirloom bulbs and drought tolerant perennials for Collin County and surrounding areas. CCMGA will be selling some of the perennials that are doing so well in the trial gardens at Myers Park, as well as spring, summer and fall blooming bulbs. Anise sage (salvia guaranitica) black and blue, hyssop-agastache (Apricot Sunrise) and wine cups (Callirhoe involucrate) are just a few of the Texas tough plants being offered that will add a splash of color to the garden throughout the year. Bulbs are synonymous with spring, when cheery daffodils and tulips lift everyone’s spirits on cold winter days. The Mart will offer bulbs that are researched and proven to be suitable for our climate and soil extremes including lovely low-maintenance daffodils like narcissus Carlton, narcissus Tahiti and Dutch iris Imperator. All the bulbs offered don’t require prechilling and are excellent choices for water-wise gardens. Purchase these proven winners by cash, check or credit card (Visa or Mastercard only).

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The Bulb and Perennial Mart is an indoor event, so come rain or shine! Join us at for a day of fun, education and the love of gardening! Master Gardeners will be on hand to conduct tours of the trial gardens and answer questions. The event is free and children are welcome.

Saturday, Schedule of Events: 9-10 a.m.—Bulbs and Perennials Seminar 10 a.m.-1 p.m.—Bulb and Perennial Sale 10 a.m.-1 p.m.—Pick up Exclusive August Pre-Sale Bulb Orders 9 a.m.-1 p.m.—Tours of Myers Park Research & Demonstration Gardens 9 a.m.-1 p.m.—Information Booth Myers Park is located at 7117 County Road 166 in McKinney. To find out more about the 2013 Bulb and Perennial Mart visit the CCMGA website at www.ccmgatx. org or call 972.548.4219 or 972.548.4232. v Dawn Bluemel Oldfield is the public relations coordinator for CCMGA.

New state-of-the-art education tool by Kathleen Vaught

Fire Prevention Week

is the longest running national public health and safety observance on record and this year takes place October 6-12. It was established in 1920 to com­ memorate the tragic Great Chicago Fire of 1871 that killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures and burned more than 2,000 acres. While we have not seen devastation of that magnitude, Allen did suffer from a catastrophic fire in 1915 that wiped out most of its downtown area. During this year ’s fire safety campaign, “Prevent Kitchen Fires,” Allen firefighters and safety advocates will partner with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) to

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spread the word about how dangerous these types of fires can be and teach how to prevent them from starting in the first place. In recent years, the Allen Fire Department (AFD) reports that about 70% of home fires in Allen are caused by cooking. Nationally, according to the NFPA, two of every five home fires begin in the kitchen—more than any other place in the home. Cooking fires are also the leading cause of home fire-related injuries. With these kinds of statistics, it is imperative to know what to do if and when it happens in your home. This fall AFD will pilot various programs using its new Fire Safety Training Vehicle, or Safety Trailer. This state-of-the-art mobile classroom is

equipped with life-like simulations to help educate people of all ages on what to do when a fire strikes in the kitchen or even a bedroom. With the new safety trailer, AFD Public Education and Outreach Coordinator Linda Greenidge can present a hands-on and uniquely visual learning experience to help reinforce critical and often lifesaving steps everyone should know when a home fire breaks out. “It’s important to be able to put adults and children in situations where they can actually see what their response might be,” said Greenidge. “The simulation capabilities of our mobile classroom provide that nearly real reaction while remaining completely safe. We have the ability to train adults to extinguish simulated

kitchen fires, teach children what they should do in case of fire in their homes, how to crawl under smoke or feel a warm door.” The Safety Trailer utilizes sound, smoke, fire effects, an interactive 9-1-1 phone and an automatic smoke detector to help create an authentic emergency situation. In the kitchen fire scenario, it is designed to resemble a real home kitchen, using heat, smoke, sound effects and digital flames to create an intense, yet safe, fire experience. A laser-driven fire extinguisher gives the ability to demonstrate the proper “sweeping” technique to be used in case of fire. The bedroom scenario helps both kids and parents learn to feel a door for heat and block smoke with a pillow or towel, crawl under smoke that enters the room and then evacuate to the predetermined meetings spot using the window. You may see the new Safety Trailer out and about this fall as it will be used to pilot programs about kitchen safety, fire extinguisher training and more with area PTAs, elementary schools and other organizations. For more information on educational opportunities, contact Linda Greenidge at 214.509.4413 or And make sure to visit to learn more about this year ’s campaign and ways you, too, can help prevent kitchen fires. v

Important tips to remember • Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling, broiling or boiling food. • If you must leave the room, even for a short period of time, turn off the stove. • When you are simmering, baking or roasting food, check it regularly, Stay in the home and use a timer as a reminder to check on what you are cooking or baking. • If you have young children, use the stove’s back burners whenever possible. Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the stove. • When you cook, wear clothing with tight-fitting sleeves. • Keep potholders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper and plastic bags, towels and anything combustible, away from the stovetop. • Clean up food and grease from burners and stovetops.

Kathleen Vaught is the senior marketing specialist for the City of Allen.

Allen Image x October 2013


Think Pink

by Jeff Mues

Pinktoberfest Women’s Ice Hockey Tournament & World Girls Ice Hockey Weekend Learn to Play Clinic

October 11-13 Allen Community Ice Rink and Allen Event Center Benefitting Breast Cancer at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Allen

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In 1991, 119 women in the U.S. died of breast cancer every day. Today, that figure has been reduced to 110. The small improvement over the past 20 plus years is likely the result of increased awareness, leading to early detection and more treatment options. Yet breast cancer still affects one in eight women, and it remains the leading cancer killer among women ages 20 to 59 with more than 1.4 million new cases diagnosed annually worldwide. While awareness is up, campaigns to educate the public and to raise support for breast care services and research are clearly needed. Allen Community Ice Rink (ACIR) and Allen Event Center are pleased to lend their support this October. ACIR hosts the third annual Pinktoberfest Women’s Ice Hockey Tournament October 11-13. The Pinktoberfest Women’s Ice Hockey Tournament matches teams of female hockey players in two divisions—recreational and competi­ tive. The tournament is sanctioned by USA Hockey and each team plays at least four games at ACIR. There will be over 15 games played in three days, with the championship games being held on the Allen Event Center ice Sunday morning, October 13. A portion of the proceeds benefit

the Breast Center at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Allen. The Breast Center was the recipient of a recent Susan G. Komen grant providing breast exams, screening mammograms and breast health education to uninsured individuals in Collin County. After a champion has been crowned at Allen Event Center, the hockey action moves back to Allen Community Ice Rink the evening of October 13. From 8 to 8:45 p.m. a free all girls’ and women’s “learn to play clinic” will be hosted in celebration of 2013 IIHF World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend—an annual global oppor­ tunity for females to try ice hockey as a new sport. Space is limited, so please visit or contact 972.912.1097 to register. Minimal equipment is required to participate but some equipment is available for use and can be reserved by request upon registration. To learn more, visit www. or contact Kendall Hanley, Director of Hockey, at 972.912.1074 or by email at v Jeff Mues is a senior marketing coordinator with the Allen Event Center and Allen Parks and Recreation Department.

Civil War Encampment by Anne Gifford

Civil War Living Historians of Collin County and the Allen Heritage Guild will be hosting an encampment at the Allen Heritage Village, 450 St. Mary Drive in Allen on Saturday and Sunday, October 26 and 27. Come learn about the life of a typical Civil War soldier—the Living Historians will answer questions from the period. Enjoy campfires, drilling practices, bayonet exercises, a medical tent and a blacksmith from 9 a.m. on Saturday until 4 p.m. on Sunday. A full schedule of events is planned for the weekend including: • Demonstrations by soldiers at the medical tent Saturday, 11 a.m. and 5 p.m.; and Sunday, 1 and 3 p.m. • Drills at 10 a.m. on Saturday • Skirmishes at 1 and 4 p.m., Saturday; and 2 p.m., Sunday Take the opportunity to shoot blank loads from an authentic replica musket for $2 a shot (children must be accompanied by a parent). On Saturday, the Allen Community Theater presents a mock trial at 2 p.m., and “Dress the Victorian Lady” will be presented at the Allen Christian Church

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at 3 p.m. Refreshments will be served and Notably North Texas Chorus will be singing Civil War era music. There is a pie baking contest at St. Mary Baptist Church Saturday, 10 a.m. Check the Allen Heritage Guild website for rules. At 6:30 p.m., Saturday, Ken Byler and The Twin Fiddlers—Megan and Leah Bynum—will present the “Story of Diamond Bill” at the Allen Christian Church and at 7:30 p.m., Kym Banks will present a reading from Mark Twain and letters from Civil War soldiers will be read. The evening will conclude with music by Keltic Dead. Like Minded Friends of Allen will have a food and drink tent and the Heritage Guild will have a dessert tent on Saturday from noon until 3 p.m. Several Civil War games for children will be held on Saturday afternoon and Civil War era souvenirs will be available for purchase. There will also be a photo opportunity to have your picture taken with a union or confederate soldier. For more information, call Anne Gifford, 972.727.8985. v

Snippets Fall Bazaar

National Night Out National Night Out (NNO) for Texas this year is on Tuesday, October 1. NNO is an effort to promote involvement in crime prevention activities, policecommunity partnerships, neighborhood camaraderie and send a message to criminals letting them know that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back. The purpose of NNO is to meet with neighbors—a key aspect in crime prevention—as well as the police officers who patrol your community. It is a celebration across America with various events and activities including, but not limited to, block parties, cookouts, exhibits, youth events, safety demonstrations and seminars, in an effort to heighten awareness and enhance community relations. The Allen Police Department welcomes the opportunity to visit with residents and share information about the recent enhancements and new programs that are available. If you are hosting an NNO neighborhood event, you may email Officer Chris Hester at with details to see if Allen PD officers are available come by and visit your event. v

The Fall Bazaar at the First United Methodist Church Allen began in 1978 when the United Methodist Women’s Group started making hand-crafted items and baked goods to sell to raise money for local and area missions. In 1991, the Fall Bazaar was opened to outside vendors to rent space and sell their wares, and today the number has grown to over 60 vendors who offer everything from candles, leather goods, purses and handcrafted jewelry to baby blankets and much, much more. Behind the scenes, a tremendous organizing effort takes place beginning in mid-April and continues until the day of the bazaar. All funds raised go to missions such as Allen Community Outreach, Collin County Children’s Advocacy Center, Plano’s Children’s Medical Center, Samaritan Inn, Hope’s Door, Methodist Children’s Home, Send Hope for Honduras and many more. Please join us on Saturday, October 26, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the fellowship hall of the First Methodist Church Allen at 601 South Greenville Avenue. v

Ride for Kids Maxim Honda would like to invite everyone to participate in our annual Ride For Kids. Ride For Kids motorcycle events take place across America to raise funds to help find a cure for one of the deadliest forms of childhood cancer. Maxim Honda has raised almost $60,000 over the last six years through Ride for Kids, with help from local businesses and donors. Please join us this year to help raise more money than ever before! You can take part in our dinner and live auction on October 9, and meet some of the families you are supporting. There are over 80 businesses donating items to this worthy cause. Previous items have included resort packages, spa packages, golf packages, electronics, restaurant and retail certificates, sporting events and much more! Or, come join us on October 13, when Maxim Honda will take part in the Ride For Kids charity ride, which starts and ends at Texas Motor Speedway where you can get to know the kids you are supporting. To find out more, visit or donate online at v Allen Image x October 2013


Snippets CCHS Boot Scootin’ Pet Benefit Join us again this year as the Collin County Humane Society presents our fourth annual fund raising event— Boot Scootin’ Pet Benefit—on October 26, 6-11 p.m., at Eddie Deen’s Ranch, 944 S. Lamar Street in Dallas. A cocktail hour with Matthew Middleton and Texas Drive Band, appetizers, drinks and a silent auction will kick off the event prior to the casino tables opening at 7 p.m. All guests may bid on the silent auction through use of cell phone applications or the many ipads scattered throughout the venue. As always, all of the proceeds will go towards building a CCHS adoption facility in 2016. At the casino, Texas hold ’em, craps, roulette, Black Jack, four-card poker, slot machines and more are available for your enjoyment. All guests must pre-register for the event and seating is limited so get your tickets early! Tickets are $85 per person. Sponsorship opportunities are available and are 100% deductible. Tickets include alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages, appetizers, Eddie Deen’s famous BBQ, $1000 in funny money for the casino or raffle tickets, validated parking, a parting gift and a chance to win one of many wonderful items in the silent and live auction. For more information on the event, for tickets or to sponsor the event, go to bootscootin-benefit.html. v

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Collin County Master Gardeners Association receives international award Recently, the Collin County Master Gardeners Association was recognized by horticulturalists around the world as innovators for their Earth-Kind® Research Gardens project at Myers Park and Event Center in McKinney. They were awarded the International Master Gardener Search for Excellence Award for Research Gardens at the September 2013 International Master Gardener’s Conference in Seattle, Washington. “This much deserved recognition represents the hard work and dedication of the Collin County Master Gardeners to the Earth-Kind® Environmental Stewardship Research Program developed by Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Horticulture Program,” said Greg Church, Ph.D., County Extension Agent for Horticulture Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Collin County. “CCMGA and the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service have devoted a lot of hard work and love in developing and tending the research gardens,” adds Jim Ewoldsen, CCMGA President. “During the growing season you will see our local master gardeners braving all kinds of weather every week to collect the data needed to conduct the research. These volunteers take tremendous pride in the results they have achieved, knowing this research will help homeowners, landscapers and commercial nurseries in making better informed landscaping decisions that will conserve time, money and the environment.” For more information visit or call 972.548.4232. v


On a

by Simon Valentin

If you’re not familiar with bobsledding it almost conjures up a gentle winter scene, like a sleigh shushing gently down a snow-dusted hill carrying goodies to grandma’s house. Think again. It’s two-hundred-pound bobsledders pushing a twelvehundred-pound-carbon-fiber-missile down an ice-encased concrete track, getting it up to speed and jumping in at the

Johnny Quinn

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slide same time trying to avoid hundreds of needle sharp spikes on their teammate’s shoes. Then they tuck their heads down, grab handles built into the metal frame and place their fates in the pilot’s hands. Should the driver lose it coming out of a curve at five Gs and the sled does an alley-oop and settles upside down, the bobsledders better hold on to the handles because seat belts aren’t an option on this ride, and, if you fall out, you learn quick enough that at 90-miles-an-hour, ice burns. “You have to have a couple screws loose to compete in this sport,” says U.S. Men’s Bobsled Head Coach Brian Shimer. Shimer knows what he’s talking about. A bobsledder for 17 years, he competed in five Olympics, and won a bronze medal in his last games. He’s seen dozens of bobsledders come and go. But one in particular caught his attention—Allen’s Johnny Quinn. “Johnny’s drive to be the best sets him apart. He knows more about body mechanics and strength training than most athletes I’ve known. He’s one of the hardest working guys I’ve seen. He is determined.“ How’s that for a vote of confidence. Johnny is one of dozens of athletes vying for a spot on the United States bobsled team set to compete in the winter Olympics in Russia in 2014. What qualifies him for the spot? Here’s his background in a paragraph short enough to tweet. He excelled in high school and college football, played in the NFL, injured his knee in Canada’s AFL and, at 26, his gridiron dream was done. We’re not downplaying years of hard work, hitting the weights, studying field strategy and learning to read opponents like a free book on Kindle. That’s amazing. But, after putting in all that body breaking

effort, shooting for the football dream and not realizing it, Johnny could have walked away from sports and no one would have thought less of him. Except Johnny Quinn. So he decided to bobsled. A Texas boy, whose experience with ice was limited to the cubes doing a tango in his soda, decided he would become an Olympian by shooting down a five-thousandfoot ice slick at 90 miles an hour. “I sent my training films to Corey Butner, a bobsled driver at the Olympic training center,” Quinn says. “He asked me to come out and give it a try.” Not much later, Butner, recognized as one of the best bobsled pilots in the nation, called Quinn and said a teammate was cut because he was overweight. “Two days before a competition he invited me to team trials. I told him ‘I’ll come but I’ve never pushed a bobsled in my life,’ “ Quinn says. “He told me to come get in the sled.” So he did. “Everyone was watching wide-eyed thinking ‘this will be interesting,’” Shimer says. “He slipped a little getting in, but he got in, sat where he was supposed to and had a decent time. He was one of the top three in the race that day.” That was all it took to re-channel Quinn’s drive. “Bobsledding is great,” he says. “It’s about wearing red, white and blue, about hearing ‘USA is at the line’, four guys with a goal that surpasses everything.” Quinn compares it to “extreme sports.” “If you get on a curve too early, get off too late, you’ll crash.” He’s been in five crashes and nonchalantly says, “They’re no fun.” Make no mistake, wrecks are dangerous and bobsledders have died. But more often than not they deal with broken limbs and nasty burns. To protect themselves they wear vests made of Kevlar (yeah, the same thing bullet proof vests are made of) under their suits. Sometimes even that’s not enough. “As a rookie we crashed, my shoulder stayed on the ice too long and got hot so I kicked out of the sled.” he says. “As I checked my limbs, I noticed my shoulder was

really, really hot. I had an ice burn in my shoulder.” But that didn’t stop Quinn. Lance Walker, Director of Performance at the Michael Johnson Performance Center in Dallas, trains the Allen based athlete and he’s impressed. “I’ve known Olympians that don’t have his attitude,” Walker says. “He’s a rarity, he has a “can do” attitude like my boss, Olympian Michael Johnson. Just like Michael, Johnny has ‘it’.” Walker acknowledges people like to hear about the Xs and Os of training, how many reps, how much weight is used, but with Quinn he says it’s about something deeper. “I’ve seen video of him training in the snow using garage sale weights when that’s all that was available. He’s one of those guys who keeps on coming back despite his injuries. He is the American Spirit.” Right now Quinn trains six days a week and runs a business called The Athlete Watch, helping families navigate the sports recruiting process. Why doesn’t he just focus on his Olympic run? “I have to raise 40-thousand dollars this year. Financing the season is the toughest part.” So it’s not training in a blizzard or getting skewered by spiked shoes, it’s not coming out of a curve at five times the force of gravity—raising money is the tough part. This is a “can do” guy competing on a low-dough budget. He. Still. Won’t. Quit. Come on. Say it with me—U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! Look out Russia, Johnny Quinn’s on his way. Johnny’s website is v Simon Valentin is a freelance writer from Allen. Allen Image x October 2013



The deadliest of natural disasters by Tom Keener

The estimated number of total deaths from the Spanish flu in 1918 varies wildly—the reported tallies range from 20 million to 100 million. It is estimated that the mortality rate was 2.5 percent of the world’s population. This pandemic did not dis­ criminate by age, gender, race or income. Like a tornado, it appeared with ferocious speed, devastated communities and then disappeared as rapidly as it arrived. When walking through old cemeteries, the number of tombstones with 1918 death dates is disproportionately high. Learn more about the evolutionary history of the Spanish flu with geneticist Dr. Peggy Redshaw at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, October 17, Allen Public Library. Dr. Redshaw emphasizes, “The question is not whether a similar pandemic will reoccur, but when?” Historian Alfred Crosby calls

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the 1918 Spanish flu a “forgotten pandemic.” Were there members of your family or community who were impacted by this illness? This presentation will show how a small town responded when the flu struck in the midst of WWI. To gain insight and understanding of how the 20,000 residents of Sherman, Texas, reacted to this flu outbreak, both newspaper accounts and funeral home records from October 1918 will be presented. Efforts to recreate the genetic sequence of 1918 strain (a subtype of avian strain H1N1) were successful in 2005. Tissue samples recovered by pathologist Johan Hultin from a female flu victim buried in the Alaskan permafrost, and samples preserved from American soldiers, allowed scientists to develop a greater understanding of this virus. A native of central Illinois, Peggy

A. Redshaw is professor of biology at Austin College in Sherman where she teaches genetics, histology and cell biology. She holds a BS from Quincy College and a Ph.D. from Illinois State University. Over a decade ago, when the 1918 flu virus was first isolated from bodies in the Alaskan permafrost, she became interested in the Spanish flu. She has taught several courses on the 1918 flu, the avian flu and the swine flu and delivered a paper before the Texas Folklore Society on “cures” that folks took in 1918. Her research on the Spanish flu has been published in the East Texas Historical Association Journal, January 2013. The library is located at 300 N. Allen Dr. Sponsored by Bach to Books, this program is free. Call 214.509.4911 for more information. v Tom Keener is the cultural arts manager with the Allen Public Library.

The Allen Public Library presents… by Tom Keener

Roberta Shore Gather your friends, pile in your ’55 Chevy and take a ride back to 1950s-60s Hollywood. Actress Roberta Shore makes a rare appearance at the Allen Public Library at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, October 10, to share stories about film legends such as Annette Funicello and Walt Disney. Remembered by many as the energetic and bubbly brunette teen actress with the cute bangs, Miss Shore still exudes that same dynamism in real life. At the age of 10, Miss Shore began her acting career when Tex William invited her to join his weekly TV show filmed at Knotts Berry Farm. She accompanied him on his popular country song “Smoke That Cigarette” that carried a subtle but satirical anti-

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smoking message. She subsequently joined The Pinky Lee Show (1954), NBC’s number one-rated children’s daily television program at the time. She then caught the attention of the iconic legend Walt Disney and appeared on 15 episodes of Annette Funicello’s miniseries “Annette” that aired in 1958 on The Mickey Mouse Club. Miss Shore played against type as a nasty and snooty rich girl and also sang a couple of songs. Playing the part of Franceska Andrassy in the movie The Shaggy Dog (1959), Miss Shore starred with Fred MacMurray and Annette Funicello. Other film credits include Blue Denim and A Summer Place and she spent a month in London for filming her role of Lorna in Stanley Kubrick’s, Lolita. In addition to guest appearances on The Jack Benny Program, The Bob Hope Show, Playhouse 90, Maverick, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis and Lawrence Welk, Miss Shore was in multiple episodes of The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, The Donna Reed Show, The Bob Cummings Show and Father Knows Best— where she portrayed Bud’s girlfriend. On TV’s The Virginian, Miss Shore starred as Betsy Garth, the daughter of Shiloh Ranch owner Judge Garth played by Lee Cobb. v

“Creature Feature” Month All films are free and begin at 7 p.m. on Tuesdays. Famed for combining psychological intrigue with mystery to create unpredictable plots, Alfred Hitchcock has a legion of fans that now spans generations. The Allen Public Library is excited to present one of his most popular horror thrillers, The Birds, to be introduced by its award-winning star Tippi Hedren via telephone conference call at 7 p.m., Tuesday, October 29. One of the last living Hitchcock actresses, Miss Hedren was discovered by Hitchcock when she appeared on a commercial for a diet drink during NBC’s Today Show. She then became one of Hitchcock’s classic icy blondes a la Grace Kelly, Kim Novak, Eva Marie Saint and Janet Leigh and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. To prompt attacks by hungry birds the actors in this movie— including Miss Hedren—were smeared with bait. Including Miss Hedren who starred as Melanie Daniels. Hollywood icon Cary Grant observed some of the filming and noted to her, “You are one brave woman.”

October 1

The Thing from Another World (1951), starring Margaret Sheridan, Kenneth Tobey and Robert Cornthwaite. Scientists and American Air Force officials fend off a bloodthirsty alien at a remote Arctic outpost.

October 8

The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953) starring Paul Hubschmid, Paula Raymond and Cecil Kellaway. An ferocious dinosaur awakened by an

Arctic atomic test terrorizes the North Atlantic and ultimately New York City.

October 15

The Great Hanging

The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), starring Richard Carlson, Julie Adams and Richard Denning. A group of scientists try to capture a prehistoric beast that lurks in the depths of the Amazonian jungle and bring it back to civilization for study.

October 22

Them! (1954), starring James Whitmore, Edmund Gwenn, Joan Weldon and James Arness. The earliest atomic tests in New Mexico cause common ants to mutate into giant man-eating monsters that threaten civilization.

October 29

The Birds (1963) starring Tippi Hedren, Jessica Tandy, Rod Taylor and Suzanne Pleshette. A wealthy San Francisco socialite pursues a potential boyfriend to Northern California. After her arrival, the town slowly takes a turn for the bizarre when birds of all kinds suddenly begin to attack people. The film’s technical wizardry earned it an Oscar nomination. At 6:30 p.m., archival footage of an Alfred Hitchcock television episode will be featured prior to The Birds. v

Dr. Richard McCaslin presents an account of a horrifying episode in North Texas history at 7:30 p.m., on October 24. This free program is sponsored by Bach to Books. History is replete with tales of tragic events that should not have happened. Pretending these never existed only increases the chances of reoccurrence; so learning about them will hopefully deter the repeat of another dismal or shameful event. What has come to be known as “The Great Hanging at Gainesville” proves this point. Unlike most of Texas, counties along the Red River, including Collin, voted against secession just prior to the Civil War. Acrimony between proUnion and pro-Confederate forces in the state was rampant; Texan against Texan hostilities were more venomous than Northerner against Southerner. The primary reason for this was that the influence of the slave economy was not as strong in this region. In the late 1850s, the famous Butterfield Overland Stage completed its route from St. Louis through Gainesville to California. Because of this, immigrants had been encouraged to relocate to Gainesville. By the onset

of the Civil War, slave owners constituted less than 10% of Gainesville’s population. The editor of the Sherman Patriot newspaper called for the secession of North Texas from Texas. Slave owners were paranoid about the prospects of Pro-Unionists conspiring with the Kansas Jayhawkers and other abolitionist groups. After Texas joined the Confederacy in 1861, enthusiasm was evident in the parades and newspaper editorials, but in 1862, the unpopular draft and the grim reality of war were disillusioning to many Texans, and with large contingents of men in the Confederate army, political organization in the frontier state was extremely fragile. It was during the fall of 1862, when more than 40 men, most guilty of nothing more than not reporting for the draft, were hung or shot in what was one of the largest cases of vigilante justice among Anglos in American history. Professor of history and chair­ person of the History Department at the University of North Texas, Dr. Richard B. McCaslin is author of Fighting Stock: John S. “Rip” Ford of Texas (Texas Biography Series) and the award-winning Tainted Breeze: The Great Hanging at Gainesville, Texas. v

The Allen Public Library is located at 300 N. Allen Drive. Call 214.509.4911 for more information. Tom Keener is the cultural arts manager with the Allen Public Library. Allen Image x October 2013


Haunted Halloween by Deborah Dove One of the things teens and preteens love best about Halloween are the haunted houses and Texas has the third most in the nation. Following are a few of the best that DFW has to offer. Warning—these are not for the faint-hearted! Haunted Shadows Lake Trail—Blue Sky Sports Center, 7801 North Main, The Colony Fridays/Saturdays in October from 7:30 pm-midnight; Sundays 7:30-10 pm; Halloween 7:30-11 pm. Tickets are $23 (credit cards accepted). No strobe lights. No black lights. Just a terrifying one-mile, self-guided walk through the dark, scary woods along Lake Lewisville with one flashlight per group, where you never know what might be lurking behind the trees.

The Slaughter House—2615 Elm Street (in Deep Ellum near downtown Dallas) Open Friday/Saturday (10/4-10/5, 10/11-10/12, and 10/18-10/19 from 8 pm-1 am; 10/20, 10/24, 10/27, 10/28, and 10/29 from 7-11 pm, 10/2510/26 from 8 pm-2 am; and Halloween night from 7 pm-1 am. Tickets are $18 in advance at or $20 cash at the door. Talk about a real nightmare on Elm Street! Over 16,000 square feet of zombies in cages and chain-saw wielding characters that chase unsuspecting guests. Some guests complain this one is on the short side, but it is billed as the most graphic haunted house in the area.

Reindeer Manor—410 Houston School Road, Red Oak Fridays in October from 8 pm-12:30 am, Saturdays from 7 pm-12:30 am, plus Sunday 10/27 and Halloween night from 7-10 pm. Tickets are $11$17 per attraction (adults) or $4-$8 (kids under 10), or purchase all 3 attractions for $35 (adults) and $17 (kids). Cash only. A tractor-pulled trailer ride down a bumpy dirt road takes you to three haunted venues that are scary enough to make Reindeer Manor rank as one of the top rated haunted houses in America.

The Haunt House—4935 West Interstate 30, Caddo Mills

plant (now a two-story human processing plant), this haunted house is consistently voted one of the best in the nation and holds the Guinness world record for being the world’s largest walk-through haunted house. Special effects, monsters, scary clowns and ghosts—this one has it all.

Thrillvania—2330 County Road 138 (I-20 and Wilson Road), Terrell Open 10/4-10/5 and 10/11-10/12 from 8-11 pm; 10/18-10/19 and 10/25-10/26 from 7 pm-midnight; 10/20 and 10/27 from 8-10 pm; Halloween 7-10 pm. Tickets: $30 for ages 11+/$25 ages 10 and under (plus taxes and fees if purchased online). Four creatively themed attractions occupy nearly 50 acres—Verdun Manor, the clown-infested maze known as Cassandra’s Labyrinth of Terror, the outdoor Trail of Torment, and the eerily dark Thorn Hall.

Tayman Graveyard—4721 Cecilia Avenue, Midlothian Hours are 10/4-10/5 and 10/11-10/12 from 7:30 pm until midnight; 10/18-10/19 from 7:30 pm-12:30 am; 10/20, 10/27 and Halloween night from 7:30-11; 10/25-10/26 from 7:30 pm-1 am. Tickets are $25 for adults; $18 for kids 48” and under. (Receive $3 off full price admission with the donation of any canned good item to benefit the North Texas Food Pantry) This eerie haunt includes a graveyard, a mazelike abandoned mine, and the main attraction—the Tayman Funeral Home. October 20 and 27 are light’s out nights, where visitors must navigate the attraction with only a glow stick (admission is only $15 on these nights).

Zombie Manor—7501 US Highway 287, Arlington They are open weekends and Halloween night. Visit www. for specific hours. Tickets are $17. This themed haunted house will transport you into the world of the walking dead.

Fridays/Saturdays in October from 7 pm-12 am, Sundays 7-10 pm, Halloween from 7-11 pm. Tickets are $17. Situated in an empty field outside of town, this classic walk-through haunted house is a gory fright fest with detailed scenes and scary actors. It’s definitely one of the best in town. For the truly fearless, visit on November 2 for Fright’s Out, where visitors must navigate the pitch black house with one glow stick.

Terrorplex —6921 Bennett Lawson, Mansfield

Parker House Haunted Attraction—8550 West University, Denton

Ghouls and Graveyards presented by Dallas Children’s Theater—Rosewood Center, 5958 Skillman, Dallas

Hours are Friday/Saturdays in October and Halloween night from 7:30 pm-midnight; 10/13, 10/17, 10/20, 10/24, 10/27, 10/29. And 10/30 from 7:30-10 pm. Tickets are $23. Scares abound inside the Parker House mortuary and its surrounding trails and graveyard.

Cutting Edge—1701 E. Lancaster (intersection of I-30 and I-35), Fort Worth Open every Friday-Sunday in October, with additional hours the weeks before Halloween. Visit for exact hours. Tickets are $30 for ages 11+ and $25 for 10 and under (plus taxes and fees if purchased online). Located in an old abandoned meat-packing

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Open Fridays and Saturdays from 7:30 pm-midnight; Sundays and Halloween from 7:30-10 pm. Tickets are $22. Explore the haunted Victorian Midnight Manor, visit the Circus of the Dead, determine if you will become a flesh eating zombie in the military compound Infected, and try to find your way out of Limbo, Terrorplex’s outdoor maze.

October 18-27, tickets are $12. Designed for kids ages 12 and up, this collection of horror masterpieces by the likes of Edgar Allan Poe are brought to life by an all teen cast.

Other Area Haunted Houses Screams Halloween Theme Park (Waxahachie)— Fright Fest at Six Flags over Texas (Arlington)—www.sixflags. overTexas/events The Boneyard Haunted House (Arlington)— Moxley Manor Haunted House (Bedford)—


Teetering near the brink of a black hole Collin graduate succeeds in the face of adversity

Photo: Nick Young, Collon College

by Heather Darrow

Ashylyn Shellito

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Everyone deals with challenges, but Ashylyn Shellito’s life experiences took the word challenge to a whole new level. It was as if she continually teetered near the precipice of a black hole, the point of no return, which scientists dub the event horizon. At the event horizon, matter is heated until it emits radiation, and ultimately the black hole’s gravity draws it in. Even light cannot escape a black hole. Shellito’s mother was addicted to drugs and as a child she was passed from one economically challenged relative to another. Constantly transplanted, she lived in 11 states. It would have been easy for her to follow in the footsteps of those surrounding her, but Shellito chose a different path—the pure pursuit of knowledge. “I realized I was going to be part of the cycle, working terrible jobs to make ends meet, burning the candle at both ends. My only escape was through education. I was interested in biology and chemistry and I wanted to understand interactions smaller than the atom, which I found in physics. Science had answers to my questions,” she said. In high school, Shellito made the conscious decision to make straight As. She achieved her goal and with financial aid she was able to attend college. Things were looking promising until her mother disap­ peared and she was unable to receive the funding she needed. “I waited until I was 24 to regain financial aid but the month after my

24th birthday my mother committed suicide. It had been years since I had spoken to her. My grandparents did not have the money to pay for her cremation or grave marker, so I paid for them. The cost pushed me back another semester,” she said.

Leaving the black hole behind “In fall 2011, I began taking classes at Collin College. I selected Collin because it is renowned. It is the best community college in the state and has some of the best professors in the country. It has partnerships with many universities, and I knew I would get a good education.” At Collin, Shellito took a variety of classes including two calculusbased physics courses and several computer science courses. She submitted two papers to the college’s Undergraduate Interdisciplinary Student Research Conference, was named an Emerging Scholar and was awarded a board of trustee scholarship. She was also named a NASA Aerospace Scholar. A member of the math club, robotics club, Phi Theta Kappa and Sigma Kappa Delta honor societies, Shellito took honors courses and graduated from Collin, cum laude, this May with an associate of science degree in computer science. She is attending Northern Illinois University this fall, majoring in physics and computer science.

brilliant scientists in the world. Fermilab is so vast. From the 15th floor of Wilson Hall looking down you can see the linear accelerator, main injector, booster ring and Tevatron, formerly the most powerful particle accelerator in the world.” Working with students from Case Western Reserve University and William and Mary as well as international students from Germany, Russia and Italy, Shellito wrote software and built and calibrated

multi-wire proportional chambers and scintillator photomultiplier tubes to detect particles from cosmic rays or radioactive sources. She was the only summer intern who was offered a part time job at the lab this fall. “My experience at Collin prepared me really well for the internship. I would not have been able to do this without attending Collin,” she said. Shellito’s ultimate goal is to earn a Ph.D. in particle physics, the field that captivates her every waking

Playing with particles in the summer Before Shellito transferred to the university she completed a U.S. Department of Energy internship at the renowned Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. She learned aspects of high-energy physics while working on instrumentation tech­ nology for the International Test Beam Facility in the particle physics division with celebrated physicists, engineers and other scientists. “Fermilab is a science wonderland. Everyday you meet some of the most Allen Image x October 2013


thought. She explains that while the sun may be the largest thing in our solar system it is small compared to the mass needed to make a dying sun into a black hole.

“According to the math, we should be able to experience time backward and forward. With black holes the physics goes crazy and I like the crazy physics,” she said. In one fell swoop, Shellito may be the perfect example of all three of Newton’s laws of motion. Faced with adversity, she flung her past into oblivion, which propelled her onto a new path. (For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.) Step by step, she has continued to move toward a new destination. (A body in motion tends to stay in motion.) Educational opportunities are cata­ pulting Shellito toward increasing success, faster than she ever imagined possible. (The force on an object is proportional to that object’s acceleration.) “It is surreal. One of my life goals was to work at Fermilab and that door has opened for me already. Now, I am having to reset my goals because I’ve already reached one,” she said laughing. For more information about classes at Collin College visit www. v Heather Darrow is a public information writer for Collin College.

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Legacy ER and Urgent Care combines a fullservice, freestanding emergency room and a leading-edge urgent care center all in one stateof-the-art facility. Legacy ER provides superior medical care in a soothing environment designed for comfort, privacy and convenience. A board certified emergency room physician treats all minor and major pediatric and adult emergencies. Most patients are seen within minutes upon arrival and discharged in less than an hour. An on-site laboratory provides speed and access to state-of-the-art NASAdeveloped equipment. Legacy ER also offers on-site radiology services with real-time readings of X-rays and CT scans by a board certified radiologist. Legacy ER was selected by the residents of Frisco to receive the Star Community newspaper Award for Best Emergency Care for 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012, as well as #1 Emergency Room in

2012. Two of the physicians were selected as some of D Magazine’s Best ER Doctors in the DFW region for 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. They were also a proud winner of the Frisco Chamber of Commerce 2012 Medium Business of the Year Award. For timely registration, Legacy ER & Urgent Care encourages patients to utilize the online check-in feature on their website. Legacy ER is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and urgent care services are available from 7 a.m.-9 p.m. daily. Legacy ER and Urgent Care is excited about providing the same healthcare services to Allen and surrounding communities as it does to Frisco. The Allen location is expected to open in early November 2013.


Taking a bite…


…of the Big Apple By Deborah Dove Although it is often said that the best time to visit New York City is anytime, autumn in the Big Apple is especially beautiful. There’s a hint of crispness in the air, the temperatures are mild and the leaves are changing in Central Park. In the late fall, there’s the added bonus of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, holiday decorations and ice skating at Rockefeller Plaza. 3 4 w w w. a l l e n i m a g e . c o m

I recently visited NYC with my teenage daughter and sister-in-law for a long girls’ weekend. Of course trying to see all that New York City has to offer in a weekend (or even a week) is impossible, but with a little planning we were able to make the most of our visit. Staying in Times Square provided the most convenient base for sightseeing, and we were pleasantly surprised by the spacious and quiet rooms at the Hilton Garden Inn there. The hotel is also within walking distance of most attractions, with the subway less than a block away.

Day One: Times Square/Theater District (Midtown)

After arriving, we set out to explore the sights of Times Square at the junction of Broadway and 7th Avenue, the most bustling square in New York with shops, electronic billboards, street performers (including the Naked Cowboy who plays the guitar in his tighty-whities) and the New Year’s Eve ball drop. From there we walked to Rockefeller Center, the site of the Today Show (show up early if you want to be part of the audience) and the wellknown ice-skating rink. We purchased tickets to go to The Top of the Rock Observation Deck, which offers panoramic views of the city that many say rival the Empire State Building; best of all, the Top of the Rock’s vistas include the Empire State Building! No trip to New York is complete without seeing a Broadway show and show options are plentiful. We purchased tickets (in advance) for Wicked at the Gershwin Theater. The theater is small enough that there isn’t a bad seat and the talent of the performers trumped anything I have seen before. Although you should purchase tickets well in advance if there is a particular show you want to see, you can often purchase tickets for a show the day of at a discounted rate from the TKTS booth in Times Square (cash only) or through your hotel. Although Wicked let out at 11 p.m., New York is “the city that never sleeps;” the streets were packed so we enjoyed a late dinner at Da Marino—a fantastic, authentic Italian restaurant on 49th Street (which I was thrilled to find out was featured on an episode of Sex and the City). Delicious food, complimentary

champagne, a charming ambiance and singing Italians made this one of our favorite restaurants.

Day Two: Upper West Side/ Upper East Side (Uptown)

We started the second day of our trip exploring the Upper West Side, a primarily residential area with picturesque tree-lined streets and brownstone buildings. This is the stomping ground of television’s Seinfeld, so we stopped for lunch at Tom’s Diner at the corner of Broadway and 112th, the diner featured on the television show. From there we walked to Central Park, a beautiful 840-acre, heavily treed park in the middle of the city, which can be explored on foot or by bicycle (you can rent one at 1710 Broadway for about $15), pedicab or horse-drawn carriage. The park has numerous playgrounds, a zoo, ice skating rinks and the famous Central Park carousel. Be sure and see the Bethesda Fountain, which has been

Central Park in fall featured in numerous movies and stop at The Loeb Boathouse where you can rent a rowboat, ride on a gondola or simply enjoy dinner or drinks overlooking the picturesque lake. On the eastern edge of Central

Park is the iconic Metropolitan Museum of Art, where we spent several hours perusing the massive collection of art, including original works by Jackson Pollock, Renoir, Monet and more.

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The upscale shops on Madison Avenue and Fifth Avenue are a short walk from the Met and provide the perfect opportunity for window shopping. Back in Times Square, we finished the day with dinner at the Haven—a rooftop restaurant and lounge atop The Sanctuary Hotel that affords great sunset views of the city and the skyline at night.

Day Three: Greenwich/SoHo/ Chinatown/ Financial District (Downtown) Day three found us 9/11 Memorial hopping on the subway and heading downtown to Greenwich pizza at Famous Joe’s Pizza and strolling Village where we visited Washington the charming tree-lined streets. Square Park with its infamous arch, From Greenwich Village, we hippie vibe and plethora of musicians walked to SoHo for some retail therapy and street performers before grabbing (this is arguably THE place to shop in the city), then wandered the crowded streets of Chinatown. From there, we took a taxi to the 9/11 Memorial, which features two memorial pools with 30-foot waterfalls and the names of those who lost their lives engraved along the sides. Beautiful, peaceful, humbling and profoundly moving, the memorial is a must-see. Get visitor passes online in advance to avoid waiting in line. The Staten Island Ferry terminal was nearby, so we boarded the ferry for a free 25-minute ride that provided great views of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty. You do have to physically get off the ferry on Staten Island

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and board the next ferry back to Manhattan. For a closer look, you can purchase tickets to tour Lady Liberty at We left the next day with aching feet, extra­ordinary memories and a love for New York City that seems to affect everyone who visits. Strolling across the Brooklyn Bridge, Coney Island, Grand Central Terminal, the David Letterman Show, Macy’s Herald Square, the Guggenheim and the Museum of Modern Art—we’re already planning our next trip!

NYC Travel Tips Dial 7 provides transportation to and from the airport for a flat fee and is generally less expensive (and more pleasant) than taking a taxi. The subway is safe, easy and faster and cheaper than a taxi. You can get a subway map from the concierge at most hotels and purchase single ride tickets or a MetroCard pass at machines at the station. If you have a smart phone, download the Stop Hop app for easy subway navigation. Go to to purchase passes for multiple attractions at a discounted rate. v Deborah Dove is a freelance writer from Allen.

For MarketPlace Your Health

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interiors/outdoor spaces

Timelessly chic transitional style by Dawn Bluemel Oldfield When Pat and Patti Calhoun decided to build a home in Fairview, they were drawn to the Serenity neighborhood adjacent to The Heard Museum and Nature Preserve. The new picturesque community with mature trees and scenic views of the countryside reminded them of their Midwest roots. They hand-picked the half-acre lot, and set out with purposeful intent to create a home where every room met their needs and desires. Outside, the impressive 5,800-square-foot Huntington home features a natural stone and brick façade, with a welcoming walkway lined with colorful, drought tolerant perennials. Inside, artful architectural features such as crown molding and hand scraped oak wood floors add to

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the homes traditional look, yet accommodate the family’s contemporary lifestyle. Eye-catching touches add character, style and family-friendly function to the home. The Calhouns have seamlessly blended traditional and contemporary styles. Natural elements like granite and wood add warmth and are perfect in the design since both play a big role in traditional and contemporary designs. Sleek chrome and glass accents and furniture in striking fabrics inject that stylish, contemporary edge. Patti describes the homes style as transitional contemporary. “It’s not ultra modern which can appear cold and sterile. This is warmer. This house has traditional bones with a contemporary twist.”

“Truly elegant design incorporates topnotch functionality into a simple, uncluttered form.” – David Lewis

“We’re blessed that with this house we could come in and do what we wanted. We’ve built a number of houses over the years and we’ve learned from each one,” Patti shares with a smile. “We knew we wanted chocolate brown and aqua to be the anchor colors throughout the house and we built on that. Fabrics and materials in similar colors and varying textures carry the theme from one room to another giving the house a natural flow. Our designer suggested we add orange to the color palette for a pop of color and it really works.” The first floor flows smoothly with an open concept plan that combines the kitchen, living and dining areas to create a space easy for family time and entertaining. Large windows in the living room bring in lots of natural light and stunning views of the back yard but the focal point in this room has to be the stone fireplace with its massive mantle. Pat shares, “The unique, metal sculptural artwork above the mantle was purchased from Cantoni. We wanted art with color that wouldn’t hide the beautiful fireplace stone. The vases on the mantel complement the sculpture in color and texture.” The state-of-the-art kitchen is the hub of the home. The spacious area is a chef’s paradise with Wolf appliances, a sub-zero refrigerator and microwave drawer. Clean, transitional oak Downsview cabinets with soft close doors and drawers, in a rich espresso finish offer ample storage. “We chose the same style for the large Lennon granite center island but finished it in a custom gray paint,” said Patti. A backsplash made up of both polished and honed Carrera marble along with glass complete the timeless look. Allen Image x October 2013


Lighting choices throughout the space are stunning. Pat continues, “The chandeliers are carefully welded stainless steel that surrounds individually hung Swarovski crystal.

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Clear crystals for the dining areas and aqua blue for the kitchen pendants.” Patti adds, “I love this kitchen! The large center island was designed for friends and family to gather without

compromising work­­s pace when I’m cooking.” The lights add an elegant, unexpected pop of color in the otherwise neutral color scheme of the kitchen. A tranquil master bedroom suite with an adjoining elegant master bath offers respite to the home­o wners. The scale of the room is simple, not w helming, and the over­ lush cocoa and aqua hues deliver a look that is both masculine and feminine. A chaise lounge in the quiet sitting area overlooking the back yard garden is a tempting place to escape with a good book and favorite beverage. Lucky guests will be treated to a bright and inviting bedroom with an en-suite bath. The room features luscious chocolate walls and accessories and artwork with green

apple accents add an earthy, bright pop of color. Corner windows offer lovely views and a French door leads to a quiet outdoor sitting area, perfect for that first morning cup of coffee. Also on the first floor, a classic office off the foyer featuring rich architectural wood paneling, a custom builtin library wall and a large window with views of the pond makes for a tranquil work environment. The traditional design reflects fine woodwork, craftsmanship and graceful lines. Contemporary light fixtures and accessories add a modern touch. Throughout the home, the Calhouns have assembled a lovely collection of art, including colorful pieces of pottery, glass, sculpture and paintings. While each unique piece enriches and inspires the area where it is placed, Patti insists, “We didn’t set

out to find things that make a statement. You stumble upon art!” Hand-blown glass discs, reminiscent of the work of famed artist Dale Chihuly, adorn the walls above the elegant grand staircase. Pat adds, “They are the perfect decorative feature we wanted for that

area and they match the glass pieces we have in the Vitrene curio cabinet at the top of the stairs.” The soaring second story opens to the first—its comfortable, colorful rooms are filled with natural light. It features bedrooms personalized by

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the couple’s three children. Ten-yearold twin sons Michael and Sean’s rooms are tastefully decorated to reflect their love of sports, while daughter Katie’s is feminine perfection in shades of purple and pink. An upstairs study area offers a quiet workplace for the boys to tackle homework or art crafts, as well as an entertainment suite with a kitchenette and media room—perfect for family time spent watching movies or Notre Dame football games. Pat and Patti agree, “This house is special because we were very careful to pay attention to detail, making sure everything flowed together from room to room. And, we had a lot of fun designing and decorating it! We wanted it to have bright colors and contemporary furnishings, yet still be warm, fun and different.” The result is a house that is inviting, stylish and interesting, with an elegant, enduring design that is as comfortable as it is classic. v Dawn Bluemel Oldfield is a freelance writer.

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For MarketPlace Your Health

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living green

Eco-friendly options for pets by Dawn Bluemel Oldfield

“Going Green” to support the environment is a growing movement, as it should be. My husband and I practice Earth-Kind® gardening principles and grow organic when we can. We eat vegetarian more days of the week than not. We compost and recycle. We are among the few households in our neighborhood who comply with the mandatory watering restrictions placed upon our community during our area’s current severe drought conditions (note to neighbors who don’t…shame on you!). We aren’t the king and queen of living green, but we’re making an effort. Like most Collin County residents, we have a busy household. Our hours are filled with jobs, chores, friends, family and the pitter-patter of little feet…four-legged feet that is! Our SPCA adopted Siamese-mix kitty rules our roost, and a high-energy Siberian husky adopted from North Texas Husky Rescue keeps us active with

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morning runs and evening walks. If you, too, share your home with animals, you know they are more than pets; they give us unconditional love that brightens our days and exercise that improves our health. We’ve all read about reducing our carbon footprint to help save our planet, but living green isn’t just for people. The way you take care of your cats and dogs can be eco-smart for your pet and the planet. Make Fluffy and Fido’s environment greener and you can reduce their carbon paw print, too. According to Molly M. Price, DVM at Allen Veterinary Centre in Allen, “The availability of eco-friendly products for family pets has increased greatly over the past several years. Whether you are looking for food, toys, kitty litter, pet beds or clothing, you’re sure to find a “green” version lining the shelves of stores today.” Dr. Price cautions, “When you are choosing health care items, toys or accessories for your pet, always put safety first. If you want to add more natural, eco-friendly products to your pet’s routine, read labels carefully and always check with your vet before introducing them to your cat or dog. Just because the label says it is natural, that doesn’t mean it is going to be safe.” Bath time isn’t a favorite activity for most kids or pets. While getting them into the tub might not be your idea of fun, selecting an ecofriendly shampoo doesn’t have to be stressful for you or your pup. Dr. Price says, “Select a hypo-allergenic shampoo for your pet. The shampoos we sell are prescription, but a natural cleanser containing aloe vera and oatmeal is very gentle on skin and will leave your pet’s coat soft and luxurious. Always ask your veterinarian to help you find a shampoo to meet your pet’s needs. About 70% of our appointments are for pets with skin irritation or allergies. Use soft, nice, washable towels instead of wet-wipes or paper towels to wipe your dog’s eyes or feet. Also, try to stay away from shampoo in small bottles. Buy bigger containers

with a recycle emblem on it. That way you’re using less plastic.” One of the most unglamorous jobs of having a pet is picking up poop. Dr. Price says, “I’m a big fan of making waste more biodegradable! When you are out walking your dog, use a biodegradable waste bag to clean it up. They break down in the landfill faster. If you have a cat, use a biodegradable litter that is low dust and silica free. There are lots of ecofriendly alternatives on the market and they are just as effective as the clay litter that clumps. It’s just a matter of finding the right one for your cat. You can also compost waste; just don’t use it in your garden. Whatever you do, don’t flush stool down the toilet! That’s a sure-fire way to get round worm, hook worm, and whip worm eggs into our water supply!” Indestructible toys are made for animals of every size and personality. Your furry friends can have plenty of fun with eco-friendly toys made from recycled materials or sustainable fibers like hemp. Dr. Price adds, “I like ropes and Frisbees because they are really durable. Avoid toys that break easily and could end up in the landfill.” Your pet won’t have to sacrifice style or comfort to be green. Hemp collars and leashes are soft and hypoallergenic, and cute outfits made from 100% cotton and recycled materials are readily available online and at eco-friendly retailers. Choose beds made from organic fibers so your pet gets a good night’s sleep. Nutrition is one of the key factors in good health, so naturally you want your pet’s kibbles to be high quality, and tasty, too! While there are a number of organic and/or natural pet foods on the market, Dr. Price counsels, “A good quality, commercially prepared food is going to be best for your pet. Be sure to select a food that has been FDA approved, and read labels so you know exactly what you are putting in your pet’s bowl.

In general, people food is a no-no for pets. That said, homemade diets can be great, but consult a veterinarian nutritionist to ensure your pet is getting the right nutrients. It is really complicated to get the right balance they need. And, if you get it wrong it can be dangerous for your pet.” “Always spay and neuter your dogs and cats,” Dr. Price urges. “There are so many medical benefits, like eliminating or reducing the risk of uterine, ovarian and testicular cancers. And, it is the one and only way to prevent so many unwanted puppies and kittens from winding up without homes.” Dr. Price concludes, “The number one way to go green with a dog or cat is to recycle it! What I mean by that is to adopt, and save one of the 70,000-plus kittens and puppies born each day in the United States from a shelter or rescue organization. These angels know they have been saved and will reward you with love, ten-fold.” Your pet is a lifelong commitment and an important part of your family. With a little effort you can easily include them in your living green routine. By doing so, not only are you helping keep our planet healthy, you are ensuring that your pet is healthy, too. v Dawn Bluemel Oldfield is a freelance writer.

“We share the earth not only with our fellow human beings, but with all the other creatures.” – The Dalai Lama Allen Image x October 2013


pet page


Scout is a 16-month-old shepherd/lab mix that weighs about 45 pounds. She is a playful pup with lots of love to give. She adores other dogs and she enjoys playing with the young children in her foster home. She is house and crate trained and working on her leash manners. During the day she is trusted not to be crated and not make a mess. Scout has been in her foster home seven weeks and in that time has made progress with her anxiety around men. She used to run and hide when her foster dad would come home and now she will hop on the couch next to her foster mom and cuddle even though her foster dad is there. Scout is young, playful with lots of love to give— she loves to cuddle and give lots of kisses—she just needs a bit of time to trust, not at all unusual coming from a home that did not show her the love she needed as a puppy. If this fun loving girl is for you please fill out an application to meet her—Scout is waiting for her furever family! She has been spayed, brought current on vaccinations and heartworm preventive. She is microchipped and all ready for a home to call her own! If you are interested in meeting this sweet pup, just fill out an application online at http://www. and you will be contacted by her foster family.

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calendar October


Friends of Fairview Firefighters Association Fall Community Pancake Breakfast, 9 am-noon, Fairview Fire Station #1, 500 State Hwy 5 (Old Town Hall Building). Eat breakfast with friends, family and firefighters who serve our community. Tours of the station and fire & rescue apparatus. $5/person for pancakes, sausage, orange juice & coffee. Children 2 & under eat free! Benefiting Friends of Fairview Firefighters Association.


Halloween at the Heard, Heard Museum, 1 Nature Place, McKinney. Kids will trick-or-treat on the Dinosaurs Live! exhibit trail, watch a familyfriendly movie under the stars in the amphitheater, stroll through the “Haunted Forest,” participate in a costume contest (for kids 12 & under), etc! Tickets sell out each year, so we encourage you to get yours soon. For further details, visit


Pinktoberfest Women’s Ice Hockey Tournament & World Girls Ice Hockey Weekend Learn to Play Clinic through the 13th at the Allen Community Ice Rink and Allen Event Center. Benefitting Breast Cancer at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Allen. To learn more, visit pinktoberfest or contact Kendall Hanley, at 972.912.1074.


Tucker Hill Pumpkinville, through the 31st, 7216 Percy Drive, McKinney. Weekend activities will include toddler-sized hay maze, tractor-pulled hay ride, activities & music, DJ cooordinating games, food trucks and Baker Elementary PTO bake sale, pumpkin decorating and more. Concert on the lawn featuring dance band Soundhouse on Oct. 26, noon-2 pm. For more information go to


Live from Allen Event Center it’s Saturday Night! Three of the most legendary comedic talents ever cast on NBC’s Saturday Night Live!— Dana Carvey, Dennis Miller and Kevin Nealon—will headline a jam-packed triple bill of great stand-up comedy at Allen Event Center. Tickets are on sale now via and at the Allen Event Center Box Office.

Equest Therapeutic Horsemanship presents Ridefest 2013, 11 am-4 pm, 3800 Troy Road, Wylie. Circus-themed activities, performances by local groups, Karaoke, bounce houses, a magic show and Rockwall’s Amber Carrington of The Voice! Admission is free. Games require a ticket. All donations go to the care and keeping for the 38 specially trained Equest therapy horses. Equest is a nonprofit organization providing equine-assisted therapy to adults and children with disabilities and U.S. veterans participating in Hooves for Heroes. Visit for information.

4th annual Trek or Treat 5K Run and Walk, 8 am, Watters Creek, Allen. Benefiting Carson’s Crusaders. Halloween celebration full of live music, activities and tasty treats for all ages. Fall festival follows with live music, sidewalk sale, hayrides, duck races and trick-or-treating. Register online at or visit www. for details. 3rd Annual Parkerfest, 11am-4 pm, Parker Preserve, Gray Lane, just east of City Hall on Parker Road. Many events for the entire family, including pony rides, kids games, chance to win a cake, dog agility show, classic cars, motorcycles from Harley Davidson, John Deere equipment display, carved pumpkin contest, face painting and a pie tasting contest as well as entertainment. The Carter Blood Care mobile unit will be on site and we will be collecting gently used eyeglasses to be donated to those in need. Also, food trucks and vendors selling their wares! For details, go to Collin County Humane Society’s 4th annual fundraising event—Boot Scootin’ Pet Benefit. All proceeds go to building a CCHS adoption facility in 2016. Join us at Eddie Deen’s Ranch in Dallas for a cockatil hour, silent and live auctions, casino fun and Eddie Deen’s famous BBQ. For information on the event or tickets, go to


2013 Scare on the Square, 4-6 pm, Downtown McKinney. This event has grown to hundreds of trick or treaters enjoying treats and the annual “Be Green on Halloween” Costume Contest showcasing home-made costumes, a Pumpkin Patch and other interactive activities to celebrate a safe, secure family fun Halloween. For more information, call 972.547.2660 or visit Allen Image x October 2013


October 3-12PFamily Arts presents Drood (The Mystery of Edwin Drood), Inspired by the unfinished Dickens mystery; this recent Broadway hit deals with John Jasper who is madly in love with his music student, the fair Miss Rosa Bud, who in turn is engaged to Jasper’s nephew, young Edwin Drood, who disappears mysteriously. Whodunit? Only the audience will decide. For more info: 4

27th Annual Allen Fairview Chamber Golf Classic, 7 am, shotgun start at 8 am, The Courses at Watters Creek, 7201 Chase Oaks Blvd., Plano. A hole-in-one, putting and other contests, prize drawings, breakfast, lunch and an after golf party. $150/person. For more info: www.allenchamber. com or 972.727.5585.


Wish 100, 7 am, Downtown McKinney. This 60-mile bike ride through McKinney and surrounding communities will once again bring cycling enthusiasts from North Texas together to raise funds to help make wishes come true for children battling lifethreatening medical conditions. Formore info: visit www. or call McKinney Main Street at 972.547.2660.

Plano International Festival, 11 am-5 pm, downtown Plano’s Haggard Park. Enjoy ethnic cuisine, multicultural music and dance performances, cultural displays, live art demos, a naturalization ceremony, children’s activities and more. Admission and parking are free. For more info: or volunteer opportunities visit www.

Boys and Girls Club of Collin County Chrysalis Ball, 6 pm-midnight, Frisco Embassy Suites Hotel, 7600 John Q Hammons Dr, Frisco. Live and silent auctions as well as entertainment by Emerald City. For more info:

10 Fire Truck Golf Ball Drop and Ron Gentry Memorial Golf Tournament, The Courses at Watters Creek, 7201 Chase Oaks

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CITY OF ALLEN Allen Event Center

Blvd., Plano. Proceeds will benefit the many children-oriented service projects sponsored by Kiwanis. For more info: 14 Youth Ropes Course Day at the Heard Museum, 9 am-2 pm, 1 Nature Place, McKinney. Ages 9-15 get to experience the Team Power Pole, Bessie’s Tree Climb and the 500-foot Zip Line. Also fun team building games—Raccoon Circles, Chocolate River, Group Juggling. For more info: www.heardmuseum. org. 19 Share the Harvest Fall Festival, 10 am-4 pm, Jacob’s Reward Farm, 4308 Church Lane. Visit our working farm, where dozens of local hand crafters offer their wares—jewelry, knitted items, fused glass art, metalwork, leatherwork, homegrown honey, soap and much more. See farm animals up close, enjoy professional storytelling and refreshments, have your face painted enjoy a day in the country! Free admission and parking. For more info: www.jacobsreward. com.

Tickets on sale now through Ticketmaster (, charge by phone at 800.745.3000 or at the Allen Event Center box office. For more information, visit www.

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SNAP Dance, 7-10 pm, Recreation Hall. Special needs adapted program! Dances feature live music, a fun and creative theme, snacks and photo. Email tharben@ or call 214.509.4707. Saturday Night Rec and Roll, Joe Farmer Rec Center offers this fun and safe social program for students grades 3-6. Gym games and dancing with music provided by DJ, dodge ball, pool, table tennis, theme nights and contests with prize giveaways. Supervision provided; concessions available. Party Packs $12 includes a $5 concession credit for only $4. ID card (one-time $5 fee) is required and must be purchased at before 5:30 p.m. the day of the event. Walk up admission ($10 admission or $14 party pack).

ALLEN PUBLIC LIBRARY Children’s Programs story times begin September 9 Baby & Me—For pre-walkers with an adult Tues. & Thurs., 10:15 am Fun Ones—For 1 year-olds with an adult Mon., 10:15 am, Wed., 10 am Family Together Time—For children 2-6 years and their family Mon., Tues. & Thurs., 11:15 am, Wed., 10:45 am All By Myself—For 4 & 5 year-olds ready to attend independently, Wed., 11:30 am. Pajama Story Time—For children 2-6 years and their family, Tues., 6:30 pm, Thurs., 7 pm.

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Adult Athletic Leagues For more info: or call the Athletic Information Hotline: 214.509.4810. For Allen Community Ice Rink programs, call 972.912.1097. Rudolph Run Registration—Reg. is now open. Cost: Elf Run (1 Mile) $15; Rudolph Run (5K) $20 pre-registered or $25 day of race. Event Date: December 1.


Noontime Pageturners, noon, 2nd floor program room. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. Bring a lunch and a friend and join us for a lively discussion! Free. No registration. Twisted Threads Fiber Craft Circle, 6:308:30 pm, 2nd floor Adult Program Room. Twisted Threads is a social group for crocheters, knitters, felters, quilters and any type of craft done with thread or yarn! All skill levels are welcome! Bring your latest project and work on it in the company of other fiber crafters. Discover a Healthier You—Talk This Way: Defusing Hot Emotions in Yourself and Others noon, 2nd floor program room. Presented by Jeana Webster, Certified Anger Management Specialist. Learn how

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to manage strong emotions. Age 18+. Free. Registration requested www.allenlibrary. org; walk-ins welcome as space permits. For more info: Debbie Vavra 214-509-4913 Talking History—Winston Churchill and the Battle of Britain, 7 p.m., 2nd floor program room. Join us and learn how Winston Churchill’s leadership guided Britain to its first major victory of World War II. Dr. James Hopkins of Southern Methodist University will discuss how Britain defended itself against Nazi Germany’s attempt to gain air superiority over the Royal Air Force. Dr. Hopkins is a specialist on modern Britain, and has published several articles and books on its history. Registration is required. Register online at or contact the Reference Desk at 214-509-4905. Calming Calligraphy, 10:30 pm, 2nd floor program room. Ages: 16+. Learn basic techniques of calligraphy by creating a project in a relaxed and fun setting! Program is free. Register online or by calling the Reference desk at 214.509.4905.

Watters Creek

Concerts by the Creek, 7 pm. 3 7 14 21 28

Moving Colors, Variety Vic Duncan, Country Variety The 8-Tracks, 80s band Rhythm N Roses, Country The PitPops, Rock N Soul

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Connemara Conservancy



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Connemara Meadow Preserve Astronomy Walk, 9-11 pm, Connemara Meadow Preserve. Join Clyde Camp for an Astronomy walk. Meet at the Suncreek Park circular parking lot, 9 pm sharp, and walk to the meadow the back way. For more info: www.connemaraconservancy. org. Bird Walk at the Connemara Meadow Preserve, 8-11 am, Allen. Bring binoculars and field guides if you have them; learn what to watch for in habits, characteristics and calls from Gailon and Rodney, with Prairie and Timbers Audubon Society. All ages welcome. We recommend wearing long pants, closed-toed shoes, sunscreen and insect repellent. Guided Meadow Walk, 9-11 am. Join Rich Jaynes for a Guided Walk. Open House, 1 pm, Connemara Meadow Preserve. Join us to wander (and wonder) at the meadow hiking the trails, watching flora and fauna. Enter at Wooded Gate on East side of Alma, south of Bethany.

CLUBS & ORGANIZATIONS City of Allen offers a variety of affordable recreational classes and programs. Register at Joe Farmer Rec Center, 214.509.4750 or Rodenbaugh Natatorium, 214.509.4770. For more info: Allen Early Childhood PTA, support for parents & caregivers of preschoolers. Each

month has fun activities for all Play groups, park days, lunch with friends, field trips, Mom’s Night Out, Dads & Kids and other events. Come play with us. For more info: or MOMS Club of Allen, group for moms and children who live in Allen, Fairview and Lucas. Monthly playgroups, kid field trips and business tours, special events, Mom’s Night Out and more. For more info: http://momsclubofallentx. or MOMS Club McKinney Central, support group for stay-at-home moms. Play groups, daytime activities, Mom’s Night Out, parties, babysitting co-op, etc. Monthly bus. meeting. For more info: Kids Helping Kids, bring new or gently-used toys to Kids Pediatric Dentistry, donate to kids in the area. Receive chance to win prize. For more info: 972.727.0011 or www. Divorce Care, 13-week courses—biblical teaching for recovering from divorce. For more info: Kim Tedford: 214.544.8050 ext. 109, or www. American Cancer Society, Road to Recovery needs volunteers to drive cancer patients to appointments. If you have a car and can spare time 9-5, you can help. For more info: Debbie Moen, 972.712.5711.

Baylor Health Care System offers support groups, medical information and events. For more info: Heart Link Women’s Networking group, women only business networking. Monthly meetings—days & locations vary. For more info: www.75013. Urban Explorers, laid back, fun, diverse social group with meetups throughout Dallas area. Something for everyone! For more info: getoutandabout. Plano Bicycle Association, club rides, social activities, monthly meetings, newsletters. For more info: Chris Mathews, 972.964.2869 or Texas Health Presbyterian, a variety of events. For more info: Every Monday-Friday The Shores AA Group, noon, Raceway Profesional Building, 200 W. Boyd, Suite C (Adjacent to Dayrise Recovery), Allen. Open AA discussion group. Everyone welcome. For more info: 469.854.9593. Every Monday-Sunday Allen AA meets, 601 S. Greenville. Mon.Fri., 7 pm; Sat., 9 am; Sun., 7:30 pm. For more info: Joe, 214.564.9403 & Tina, 214.566.7561. Every Monday Allen Toastmasters’ Club, 6:30 pm, Allen Train Depot, 100 E. Main, Allen. Guests welcome. For more info: Joe Nave at 214.566.3100. Allen Symphony Chorus rehearsals, 7-9 pm, choir room at First UMC. For more info: Henry@ Preston Persuaders Toastmasters, 7:15 pm, Custer Road United Methodist Church, Rm B2, 6601 Custer Rd, Plano. For more info: Ed Meissner, 469-323-0538 or Todd Richardson, 214.497.4495 or www. Ericsson Village Toastmasters Club, 12-1 pm, Ericsson, 6300 Legacy, Plano. Guests welcome For more info: Per Treven, 972.583.8273 or Fit and Funky Fit Club, 7:30 pm, Unlimited Success Martial Arts, 604 W. Bethany #208, Allen. Work out to p90x, Insanity, etc. Free. For more info: Second Monday The MOB (Men of Business), 11:30 am-1 pm, TopGolf USA, Allen for male bonding and networking over lunch. $20 chamber members; $25 non-members/general public. For more info: www.allenfairviewchamber. com. Heard Museum Collin County Hobby Beekeepers, 7 pm, Heard Craig Center, McKinney. For more info: 972.562.5566 or www. Allen Image x October 2013


McKinney Ladies Association (SRLA), 7 pm. Various locations and service projects monthly. For more info: Veterans of Foreign Wars “Lone Star Post 2150”, 1710 N. Church Street, McKinney. Post Members, 6:30 pm; Ladies Auxiliary, 5:45 pm; Men’s Auxiliary, 6:30 pm. For more info: 972-542-9119, gmlsp2150@ or visit on web: www.vfwpost2150. org. Collin County Early Childhood PTA, 9:45 am, Parkway Hills Baptist Church, 2700 Dallas Pkwy., Plano. Nursery res. req. For more info: Suzanne Judkins, 972.712.3634. American Association of University Women-Plano/Collin County Branch, 6:45 pm, 2nd Floor Conservatory, Senior Living Center, 6401 Ohio Dr., Plano. Open to anyone with assoc. or bachelors degree interested in helping women. For more info: Carol, 972.862.3460 or www. Sons of Confederate Veterans, William H. L. Wells Camp, No. 1588, 7 pm, Tino’s Too Restaurant, 2205 Ave. K, Plano. Speakers, school programs, etc. Open to anyone interested. For more info: Lloyd Campbell, 972.442.5982. Third Monday Plano Amateur Radio Klub, 7 pm, all welcome. For more info: Collin County Aggie Moms, 7 pm, Texas A&M Ext. Center, Coit between Bush Tollway & Campbell. For more info: 972.382.3124 or www. Breast Cancer Support Group for patients, family & friends, noon, N. Central Medical Center, 4500 Medical Center Dr., McKinney. For more info: Kelly Finley Brown, 972.540.4984. Allen Retired Educators, 10:30 am, Heritage Ranch Country Club, 465 Scenic Ranch Circle, Fairview. For more info: or RSVP: Jerri Caldronia@ Fourth Monday Allen Seniors Genealogy Club, 1 pm, Allen Seniors Center. Must be a member of ASRC. For more info: or Richard Henry, 972.390.7402. Plano Photography Club, 7 pm, Grace Presbyterian Church, 4300 W. Park Blvd., Plano. Visitors welcome. For more info: www.planophotographyclub. com. Texas Democratic Women of Collin County meets at 6:45 pm, Collin College, Frisco campus, Rm F148. For more info: or Barb Walters, 214.477.5183. Every Tuesday Allen/Fairview Chamber of Commerce Tuesday Morning Live networking breakfast, 7:30 am, 5th Street Pizza, 111 Central Expwy., #102, (Inside Stacy

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Furniture). $1 member/ $7 non-mem. 1st visit free. For more info: 972.727.5585. 2ChangeU Toastmasters, 7-8:45 pm, Custer Rd. United Methodist Church, Rm B5, 6601 Custer Rd., Plano. Visitors welcome. For more info: Toastmasters Creative Expressions, 11:15 am- 12:30 pm. Raytheon, McKinney. Guests welcome. Take Off Pounds Sensibly, 6:15-8 pm, Good Shepherd United Methodist Church, 750 W. Lucas Road, Lucas. For more info: 1.800.YEA.TOPS or www.tops. org. Every Tuesday & Thursday Allen Serenity Al-Anon Family Group, 7 pm, 1st United Methodist Church, Wesley House, 601 S. Greenville. Offers strength and hope to friends & family of alcoholics. For more info: 214.363.0461 or Volunteer Master Gardeners offer landscaping & gardening advice, 9 am-4 pm. Texas A&M’s Co-op Extension, 825 N. McDonald #150, McKinney. For more info: 972.548.4232 or 972.424.1460. First Tuesday Heard Museum Native Plant Society, 7:30 pm, One Nature Place, McKinney. For more info: 972.562.5566. Newcomer Friends of Greater Plano, 9:30 am refreshments, 10 am program, SMU Plano Campus, 5228 Tennyson Pkwy., Plano. Guests are welcome! For more info: First and Third Tuesday Legacy 4-H Club (Allen and Lucas), 7 pm, Lovejoy High School, Lucas. For more info: or 214.616.2460. Common Threads of Allen, 7 pm, Saxby’s, 150 E. Stacy Road, Villages at Allen. Share needlework projects, learn new techniques, make friends. For more info: contact Debi Maige at 214.704.0994 or Allen Lions Club, 7 pm, Kelly’s at the Village, 190 E. Stacy Rd., #1204, Allen. For more info: Bob Schwerd, Secretary, 214.402.0982. Second Tuesday Allen Senior Citizens Luncheon, 11:30 am, St. Jude Catholic Church, 1515 N. Greenville. For more info: 214.509.4820. Allen Democrats, 6:30 pm, Reel Thing Catfish Cafe, 600 E. Main St., Allen. For more info: Deborah Angell Smith 214.893.3643. Blackland Prairie Chapter of Texas Master Naturalists, 7-9 pm, Heard Museum, 1 Nature Place, McKinney. Visitors welcome. For more info: or email info@ Collin County ADD/LD Parent Support Group of Collin County, 7-9 pm, parlor, First United Methodist Church, 601 S. Greenville Ave., Allen. For more info: Shirli Salter,

Collin County Archaeology Society, 7 pm, Texas Star Bank, McKinney. For more info: Plano Pacers run at Schimelpfenig Library parking lot, 5024 Custer, in Plano, 7 pm. For more info: Third Tuesday Plano Republican Women’s Club, 11:30 am, Southfork Hotel, 1600 N. Central Expwy., Plano. For more info: www.planorepublicanwomen. com. Allen-Frisco-Plano Autism Spectrum Parents Group provides support & resources for parents of children with autism & related developmental disabilities. Join online group at http:// autismparentsupport. Daughters of the American Revolution, NSDAR, The General Bernardo de Galvez Chapter meets Aug.-May. For more McKinney Area Newcomers’ Club, welcomes new residents, 9:30 am, Trinity Presbyterian Church, 5871 W. Virginia Pkwy., McKinney. Our program will be Naturally McKinney featuring speaker Randy Williams, who will give us in depth insight on the economics and development of the McKinney community For more info: Fourth Tuesday Allen/Fairview Chamber of Commerce monthly luncheon, 11:30 am-1 pm. $20 member/$25 guest. For more info: Heard Museum Prairie & Timbers Audubon Society meets at 7 pm, One Nature Place, McKinney. For more info: 972.562.5566. Porcelain Art Guild of North Texas, 9:30 am, Carriage House, 306 N. Church St., McKinney. Open to anyone, beginner to expert For more info: Gayle Harry 214.509.0787. Every Wednesday Allen Rotary Club, noon, Courtyard by Marriot, 210 East Stacy Rd. For more info: Toastmasters SpeakUp Allen, “Become the Speaker and Leader you can be”, 7 pm, IHOP, 315 Central Expy,Allen. For more info: Daniel Dodd, 972.571.7527. Allen Sunrise Rotary Club, 7 am, Twin Creeks Hospital, 1001 Raintree Circle. For more info: 972.673.8221 or www.asrotary. org. McKinney Chess on the Square, 4-7 pm, Downtown McKinney Performing Arts Center. Open play & lessons. Promotes creativity, imagination & strategic thinking. For more info, 214.620.0527 or First Wednesday Allen Heritage Guild, Allen Heritage Center, 100 E. Main St, 6:30 pm. For more info: 972.740.8017 or www.

Art History Brown Bag Series, 12:30-1:30 pm, Heard-Craig Carriage Hosue, 205 W. Hunt St., McKinney. Lectures presented by Annie Royer. Bring lunch. For more info: 972.569.6909 or www. Collin County Master Gardeners Assoc. guided tour of Myers Park, 10 am, 7117 County Rd. 166, McKinney. Res. requested. For more info: 972.548.4232 or go to First and Third Wednesday MOPS of Hope Plano, Hope Community Church, 9:30-11:30, 3405 Custer, Ste. 200, Plano. For more info: 214-762-0037 or www. Second Wednesday Collin County Genealogical Society, 7 pm, Haggard Library, 2501 Coit Rd, Plano. For more info: VFW Post 2195, 7:30 pm, Cottonwood Creek Baptist Church, 1015 Hwy. 121, Allen. For more info: Larry Nordgaard, 972.727.9956 or Every Thursday Allen Kiwanis Club, Noon, Twin Creeks Clubhouse, 501 Twin Creeks Blvd. Visitors welcome. For more info: Sandy McNair, 214.548.5483 or Allen Classic Cars, 7-10 pm, 103-111 N. Central, parking lot of Chipotle and Stacy Furniture. Sweet Adelines, NoteAbly North Texas Chorus, 7 pm, Grace Evangelical Free Church, 2005 Estates Pkwy, Allen. Women of Allen & surrounding area invited. For more info: Community Bible Study, 9:30–11:30 am, Community North Baptist Church, 2500 Community Avenue, McKinney. Bible study for women and children. Studying Luke. Registration required. For more info: katpf@att.nett or NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness of Collin County), Recovery support for adults living with mental illness. Led by trained individuals. Free, 6:30-8:30 pm, Custer Road UMC, 6601 Custer Rd., Plano. For more info: 214.509.0085 or www.namicco. org. Weight Watchers, 12:15 and 6 pm, First United Methodist Church, 600 S. Greenville Ave., Allen. Enter at the south entrance, second floor. Speak Up! Frisco Toastmasters Club, 7-7:30 pm social, 7:30-8:30 meeting. U of D-Frisco campus, Frisco Chamber, 6843 W. Main St. For more info: http://speakupfrisco. First Thursday W.I.S.E. (Women in Support of Enterprise), 11:30 am. Location varies. Networking & discussion of women’s issues. Fun & informative meeting for

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women in Allen & surrounding areas. $20 member/$25 guest. For more info: North Dallas Newcomers, 11 am., Canyon Creek Country Club. Social time followed by a luncheon and Gayle Brink will present her review of the coming of age tale that seems to combine elements of Steel Magnolias, Fried Green Tomatoes and The Help. Please call Linda at 682-203-1979 for a lunch reservation before Sept. 30. For more info: Allen Garden Club, meets 7 pm, monthly gardening talks by area experts, Allen Heritage Center, 100 E. Main Street. For more info: Denise Webre, 972.390.8536 or Second Thursday Lovejoy Preschool PTA. Monthly general meetings at Creekwood United Methodist Church, 261 Country Club Road, Fairview. Different topic and guest speakers each month. Lunch provided free and babysitting available for nominal fee. A list of speakers is available on website. For more info:, meetup. com/Lovejoy-Preschool-PTA/. Osteoporosis Support Group, 6:30 pm, Presbyterian Hospital of Allen, Com. Education Rm-Medical Office Bldg. 2. For more info: 972.747.6036. Legal Aid Clinic, 6 pm, First United Methodist Church. For more info: or 1.888.529.5277.

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McKinney Area Republican Co-Ed Club, 7 pm, Collin County GOP Headquarters, 8416 Stacey Rd., #100, McKinney. Location sometimes varies. For more info: PSA:NAMI [National Alliance on Mental Illness] of Collin County, 7:30 pm, Custer Road UM Church, 6601 Custer Road, Plano. Enter at the SE end, room B2. Peer support group, B6, and Family support group, B1, meet from 6:30-7:20. For more info: Second and Fourth Thursday Allen High Noon Lions Club, 5th Street Pizza (inside Stacy Furniture), 111 Central Expwy. S. For more info: Peter Young, 972.849.4952. Allen Area Patriots, 7-8:45 pm, Failth Fellowship Church, 415 West Lucas Road, Lucas. Local Tea Party presents speakers, enlightening and motivating citizens to participate in the political process. For more info: Third Thursday

Xtra Years of Zest Seniors Luncheon, noon, First United Methodist Church Allen, 601 S. Greenville, Fellowship Hall. Lunch,fellowship, speakers & entertainers. For more info: Knights of Columbus, 7:30 pm, St. Jude Catholic Church, 1515 N. Greenville, Allen. For more info: Steve Nagy, 469.569.3357 or

Cancer Support Ministry, 7 pm, First Baptist Church Allen, 201 E. McDermott, Rm E101. For more info: James Craver, 972.727.8241. Collin County Republican Men’s Club, 7 pm, locations vary. For more info: Live @ 5 Business After Hours, 5-6:30 pm at various member businesses. Free. For more info: Allen Quilters’ Guild, 6:30 pm, First Presbyterian Church, 605 S. Greenville. For more info: Breast Cancer Support Group, 6:30 pm, Presbyterian Hospital of Allen, 1105 Central Expwy. N., Community Education Room-Med.Office Bldg. 2. For more info: 972.747.6036. Allen/McKinney Area Mothers of Multiples, new & expectant moms’ forum, 7 pm, First Christian Church, 1800 W. Hunt, McKinney. For more info: or 972.260.9330. Fourth Thursday Voyagers Social Club of McKinney, 10 am, Heard-Craig Hall Gallery, 306 N. Church St., McKinney. Social club open to women in McKinney and surrounding areas. For more info: Every Other Thursday North Texas Referral Group, 11:45 am, Friday’s (121 & Preston). For more info:

Every Friday Allen Senior Rec Center Dances, 1-3 pm. Ages 50+. Members free/Non-member Allen resident $3. For more info: 214.509.4820. McKinney Chess Club, 2-5 pm, Senior Center, 1400 South College Street, McKinney.Adults 50+(Free). For more info: 972.547.7491. Every Other Friday MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers), nondenominational support group for moms with kids birth to 5 years, 9:30-11:45 am, First Baptist Church in Allen. Childcare provided. For more info: 972.727.8241. First & Third Friday Classic 55+ Game Night, 6:30 pm, First Baptist Church Allen, 201 E. McDermott, Rm E104. Snacks, fellowship and games. Open to the community, no res. required. For more info: 972.727.8241 or Eddie Huckabee at Every Saturday McKinney Chess Club, 10:30 am- 1:30 pm, McKinney Public Library, 101 E Hunt St. Any age. Free. For more info: 972.547.7491. First Saturday Open Forum, meaningful discussions, 3 pm, Delaney’s Pub, 6150 W. Eldorado Pkwy., McKinney. For more info: Charlie, 214.585.0004.

VFW “Lone Star Post 2150” Motorcycle Group 33, 10 am, 1710 N. Church Street, McKinney. For more info: “Driveway John” 971-8224483, or visit on web: Second Saturday Heard Museum Nature Photography Club meeting. 1:30 pm, Heard Museum, One Nature Place, McKinney. For more info: 972.562.5566. Vrooman’s Regiment, Children of the American Revolution, service organization to teach children to serve their community. For more info: 972.396.8010. Department 56 Village Collectors Club meets in the Plano/North Dallas area to share ideas. For more info: Third Saturday Single Side Up, 7 pm, This Side Up Family Center, 1100 Capital Ave., Plano. Single parent support group. No charge to attend. Low cost child care is available. For more info: or info@ Allen Folk Music Society, 7-10 pm, The Blue House, 102 S. Allen Drive, Allen. Musicians aged 15-100. Bring snacks to share. For more info:

Fourth Saturday American Sewing Guild, 10 am-noon, Christ United Methodist Church, 3101 Coit Rd (at Parker), in Plano. For more info: Jane Johnson, 972.841.6854 or Last Saturday Plano Pacers run at Bob Woodruff Park on San Gabriel Rd., Plano, 8 am. For more info: Bob Wilmot, 972.678.2244, or Every Sunday Fit and Funky Fit Club, 7:30 pm, Unlimited Success Martial Arts, 604 W. Bethany #208, Allen. Work out live to p90x, Insanity, etc. Free. For more info: First Sunday United Methodist Women’s Reading Group, 2 pm, First Methodist Church of Allen, 601 S. Greenville, Church Parlor. Join us for book discussion and refreshments. Book selections are determined at the January meeting. We do encourage women of all faiths to participate. For more info:

Please keep us informed of any local activities or events of general interest to our readers by fax to the Allen Image at 972.396.0807 or email to

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For Your Health

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For Your Health

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cover story

Let’s consider the possibilities Okay, so first we have to eliminate the ever-popular Tyrannosaurus rex (or T rex as it’s more commonly referred to). If Fido or Fluffy next door turned up missing, we all know whom the neighbors would blame. But even herbivores may prove a challenge. A Brachiosaurus wouldn’t fit in most back yards, and although a Triceratops won’t eat you, most moms would deem the horns a hazard. The Comsognathus might have been a carnivore but what harm could this dinosaur do since it weighed about the same as a fat Chihuahua? These little dickens were fast, so you’d have to be extra careful not to leave the gate open. Sadly, it’s Allen’s animal control supervisor Alison Harper who must break the disappointing news to us. Although she admits there is no specific city rule against the raising of dinosaurs in the city limits, there is an ordinance that most likely would stymie the dream. Citing Section 3-15, part A, of Allen’s Code of Ordinances, Alison reads, with what sounds to be a bit of regret in her voice, “It shall be unlawful to own, possess, keep or harbor any wild, wild-hybrid, or prohibited animal within the city.” Don’t fret though. Maybe you can’t have a dinosaur in your back yard, but the Heard Museum in McKinney and Billings Productions of Allen offer the next best option.

Billings Productions Manufacturing and leasing lifesized animatronic dinosaurs, primarily to zoos and museums around the world, Allen-based Billings Productions gives our town bragging rights to being the birthplace of the next best thing to a real live dinosaur. In 2003. Larry and Sandra Billings opened their business in a McKinney warehouse and went straight to work

creating their initial 60 animatronic dinosaurs. The couple’s son Trey, now vice-president of operations for the family business, notes that his parents had previously worked for a California-based company that also built dinosaurs. The two choose to start their own company with the intent of creating better quality and more life-like creatures. Although Larry died in 2007, the family has worked hard to maintain Billings Productions’ standing as the largest and most respected animatronic dinosaur manufacturers in the world. Sandra is now president and daughter, Lauren, serves as the head of human resources. As demand for their dinosaurs grew, Billings found its original working space shrinking. With 48 employees and 350 dinosaurs, Billings opted for a move to Allen last year. In addition, the company recently expanded their creature stock with the production of 13 giant arthropods, including a variety of larger-than-life insects, a 20-foot wide tarantula and a scorpion with a 17-footlong tail, initially for the Chester Zoo, the United Kingdom’s number one wildlife attraction. On a tour of the Billings facility, Trey notes that authenticity is a primary concern. “We work pretty hard to do that,” he explains. “We examine bones and skeletons and sometimes consult with dinosaur experts, or entomologists, to make sure things are accurate.” Once their artists know what the creature should look like, an approximately one-foot sized model is carved. Another machine that scans in 3-D recreates the first model into a lifesized one out of extruded polystyrene foam. After corrections are made to the foam form, artists then cover this model in clay and carve in details. From this, a rubber mold is cast. After the molds are made, mechanical designers begin work on the robotic structure to be placed inside the body to create motion and sound, and artists begin making the

polyurethane “skin” that covers the body. Once the skin and internal works are complete, they are put together, seamed up and painted. Emphasizing that no one knows what color the dinosaurs really were, Trey says of their decisions as to what colors to paint the ancient reptiles, “It’s really what is socially accepted for a dinosaur. So if we painted one hot pink, people probably wouldn’t accept it. But that’s not to say they weren’t hot pink!” Trey then admits that four years ago Billings did create a pink dinosaur for the St. Louis Zoo. “They were drawing a line between birds and dinosaurs so they wanted one to look a little like a flamingo,” he clarifies. This unique reptile was transformed back to its more traditional color as part of the company’s annual maintenance process. The sounds for each of the dinosaurs, as well as the few insects in their collection that make noise, are purchased from professional sound engineers. Trey confesses that although the noises can be fun, “after a while the bumblebee gets annoying because of the buzz.” Trey estimates that the averagesized Billings dinosaur takes six months to complete. And of course, being lifesized, the dimensions and weights of each dinosaur vary tremendously. The smallest of the dinosaurs include the newly-hatched baby T rex, measuring about 8 inches in width. The largest is the 46-foot adult T rex. In addition to the T rex and “something that at least looks like a Triceratops,” Trey observes that their other most requested dinosaur is the Dilophosaurus. “In Jurassic Park it spit acid.” Trey laughs. “No scientist actually thinks it spits acid, but ours spits water.” To date, the most complicated movement design placed in one of their creatures is for the ladybird beetle, or ladybug. “We animated its wings, so they fold in and then fold in again,” Trey explains. “And all these motions are going on simultaneously with the shell going up and down. It Allen Image x October 2013


took an enormous amount of time getting the mechanics working.” Noting that the company is always looking for new and innovative motions for their creatures, Trey states, “We’re working on a system to make them more adaptive in their movement, to make them realistic and add a new level of interactivity with people that walk by.” With many repeat clients, over this spring and summer Billings shipped out dinosaurs to the Bronx Zoo, Columbus Zoo in Ohio, Birmingham Zoo in Alabama, Indian River Reptile Zoo in Ontario, Bristol and Twycross Zoos in the United Kingdom, Parken Zoo in Sweden and Osaka’s Asian and Pacific Trade Centre in Japan. The greatest distance their dinosaurs have traveled is to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. With almost 60 species on hand, Trey states that available space is a major determining factor as to the number of creatures that will be on display at a given exhibit. A typical number is around 15.

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Each of the dinosaurs is attached to metal frames with wheels and are shipped whole in containers—even the T rex. Upon arrival at an exhibit, they are put in place by forklift and the frames are concealed. Each creature has its own computerized controls situated in or near it. Serving as manufacturer, shipping center and warehouse, the 46,000square-foot Billings facility is con­ stantly on the go. In the winter, when most of the dinosaurs are back in house, each gets an overhaul to keep it in the best operating order. Over the spring and summer, when more space is available, the staff dedicates more time to design and build creatures. Trey emphasizes that because of the safety issues, Billings is not open for public tours. So if you want an up-close and personal dinosaur experience of your very own, what can you do? Simply don your dino-safari attire and trek up to the Heard Natural Science Museum and Wildlife Sanctuary in neighboring McKinney.

ining in


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The Heard Museum For the eighth year, the Heard Museum offers local ancient reptile lovers the opportunity to ogle their favorite fearsome Billings creature from just a few feet away at its Dinosaurs Live! exhibit along the nature trail. This year’s event will be hosted from mid-September until February 2 and an estimated 35,000 visitors come to the museum each year for this display. According to the Heard Museum’s marketing director Stephanie Jennings, the trail includes nine full-sized animatronic dinosaurs, two small dinosaurs in sand for children to climb on and a static T rex, that is only from the shoulders up, designed to be used for photographs. “We were trying to find an exhibit during the cooler time, some sort of exhibit people would want to see,” Sy Shahid, executive director, explains. “Our number one group of visitors are families, and dinosaurs are something both boys and girls are attracted to. And we wanted something to capture their imagination.” Although the Heard tries to bring in different dinosaurs each year, Sy notes that public demand requires that both the T rex and the water-spitting Dilophosaurus be in place every year.

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He also points out that having the smaller dinosaurs to climb on at the beginning of the trail allows young children who might possibly be frightened by the larger animatronic dinosaurs a chance to see that they are not only harmless but fun. Although admitting that the Heard enjoys having the increased traffic because of the dinosaurs, Sy points out, “Most importantly it brings people and nature together. It gets them out and away from video games

and with their kids walking along a nature path. The path is gravel and winds through trees and a meadow.” He adds that the loop of the path with the dinosaurs in ½ mile and the museum has another 6 miles of nature paths for families to explore. Alas, even these dinosaurs must return to the Billings warehouse in February for a little rest and rejuvenation, but this doesn’t mean we will be dinosaur-less. Come back to the Heard and get acquainted

with Mosie, the 83-million-year-old Tylosaurus, who is getting new “digs” in the museum’s gallery.


Over 40-feet-long and weighing approximately eight tons, the aquatic Tylosaurus, a member of the Mosasaur family of marine lizards, was a terrifying creature that swallowed its prey whole. “Their jaws were unique; they had two extra rows of teeth on the roof of their mouth and a double-hinged jaw that worked like a conveyor belt system,” explains Darlene Sumerfelt of Allen. She also notes that although this reptile lived during the age of the dinosaurs, it is more accurately labeled a sea monster. If we had lived on Earth when this Tylosaurus was swimming the seas, we would have been neighbors. Its bones were discovered embedded in limestone at Duck Creek in Garland by an amateur fossil hunter in 2008. The landowner gave the Dallas Paleontological Society permission to remove the bones and this was managed under the direction of Rocky Manning, current president of the DPS. Once carefully removed by the all-

volunteer staff, it was taken to donated lab space at the Heard Museum. In 2010, Darlene took over the voluntary responsibility of serving as the director of the Tylosaurus lab, located at the Heard’s Education Annex. She and other volunteers from DPS, including her primary assistant Richard Sheppard, have slowly and painstakingly extricated bones from the limestone, focusing their work for now on the jawbones and teeth. She adds that approximately 60 percent of

the creature’s bones were preserved and rescued from the Duck Creek site. Darlene estimates that over 100 volunteers have played an active role in removing the bones from the creek and cleaning them up for a permanent display at the Heard Museum. With a BA in anthropology and employed in sales for Drees Custom Homes, Darlene had held a long-time fascination with paleontology. She has voluntarily prepared dinosaur bones for 11 years, first with the Dallas

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Darlene Sumerfelt and Joan Sheppard Museum of Natural History that later became the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. She has also worked as a preparatory and dig crew member at a site in Arlington with an assortment of fossils including those of dinosaur, ancient crocodile, turtle, shark and plant as well as assisting with a mammoth excavation in Sherman. Darlene also points out that, in addition to the many long hours

donated by the DPS volunteers, others have given their time, talents and financial backing to the project in other ways. Once the Tylosaurus bones have been extracted and cleaned, they will be placed in a secure and protective cabinet and set on display in one of the Heard’s main building gallery rooms. Darlene notes that the Heard provided the supplies for the case and Russell Sublette and Dennis

Bishop of the Dallas Museum of Art donated their talents to design and build the cabinet. A local plastic company is also providing at cost the protective acrylic bonnet needed for this delicate display. “Usually we spend eight hours a week on this, but right now we are giving about 16 hours over the course of the week,” she explains. “We are trying to get much of this done by the end of the year.” Darlene also points out that more volunteers for this project are welcome. Because careful training is required to work with these rare bones, Darlene emphasizes that these volunteers must be at least 18 years old and able to commit at least one four-hour work shift a week. She also warns that volunteering in the lab requires wearing safety equipment and that getting dirty should be an assumed occupational hazard. This seems like a small price to pay. After all, if we can’t have our very own pet dinosaur, having some for neighbors promises to be fun. As an added bonus, these require no feeding and clean-up is strictly voluntary. v Peggy Helmick-Richardson is a freelance writer.

Want to know more about our local dinosaurs? For a humorous video of two-year-old Zack seeing his first Billings dinosaur at the Heard Museum, look for “giant robot dinosaur scares Zack” on YouTube. Recorded at the museum’s 2009 dinosaur exhibit, this very real account of boy-meets-T rex has had over 2,500,000 viewers. The Dinosaur Live! Exhibit at the Heard Natural Science Museum is included in the price of regular admission, which varies seasonally. • Through September 30, tickets are $9 for adults, seniors 60 and over and children from ages 3 to 12 are $6 • From October 1 through January 31, adults are $11, seniors and children are $8 • On February 1, spring rates go into effect, with adult admission being $10 and seniors and children are $7. Members and children under the age of 2 are always free. The Heard Museum’s annual fundraiser, “Halloween at the Heard,” which includes special activities and trick-or-

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treating along the dinosaur-studded nature trail, will be hosted Saturday, October 19. Tickets for this special event will be $15 for adults, $10 for children ages 3 through 12, and free for children 2 and under. An always-popular event that sells out in advance, the Heard recommends that tickets be purchased early. For the winter holidays, the nature trail, along with some of the dinosaurs, is decorated with lights and wreaths on December 14, 20 and 21. To learn more about the Heard Museum and to purchase general admission or Halloween tickets, go to www.

Dallas Paleontological Society For additional information on the Dallas Paleontological Society, go to If interested in training and working on the Tylosaurus, contact Darlene Sumerfelt at


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C A R D S 65

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