Page 1

1

OctOber 2013 tex AppeAl




DECEMBER 2016 | TEX APPEAL


TEXAPPEALMAG.COM




Features

26

Reason for season A Walk Through Bethlehem

Outside the back door of the First United Methodist Church in Killeen, there is a hilly drop-off covered with brush and other Central Texas flora. Standing at the top of the hill looking down across the valley along Elms Road, a small village is visible through the brush, quiet in its absence of people. On Dec. 2, all that changes as the town comes alive for another year when the residents of Bethlehem return to celebrate the night that baby Jesus was born at FUMC’s annual A Walk Through Bethlehem. By CATHERINE HOSMAN

31

Holiday happenings Many events in Central Texas

There are many holiday events happening around Central Texas, and activities can be found in each of the local communities. From Copperas Cove to Temple and all places in between, there is something for everyone to celebrate Christmas in 2016. 

DECEMBER 2016 | TEX APPEAL

43

Polynesian holiday Community members share food, dance and culture

In the kitchen of Lauren Ah Sang’s home in Killeen, members of her extended family are busy making lumpia, a type of Filipino egg roll that is a coveted delicacy during the holidays or any other celebratory time of the year. “We make it for every occasion including events, weddings, Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Year’s Eve, grandfather’s birthday — if we can find a reason, we will make it,” said her cousin Melissa Rios. Ah Sang’s recipe has been handed down through the family for generations. “Mom and Dad brought it over from the Philippines,” said her mom, Teresa Burtchell. “No one makes it the way we do,” added Ah Sang. By CATHERINE HOSMAN

37

A Christmas classic ‘The Nutcracker’ returns

Imagine you are a child again in a land of winter where large, soft, one-ofa-kind snowflakes are falling from the sky, blanketing the earth. It’s Christmas Eve and your family is having a grand celebration. By CATHERINE HOSMAN


TEXAPPEALMAG.COM




Departments

11

59

TexTalk Neighbors Anita Baez is Santa Paws

16 TexTalk FLAVOURS Tex-Rican Restaurant

18 TexTalk SCENE Metroplex Gold Star Gala Neema House fundraiser

22 TexTalk CALENDAR Upcoming events in December

24 Life & Style in Central Texas

8

EDITOR’S LETTER

9 Tex Appeal Magazine

WELL-CONNECTED

10

Contributors December 2016 1

OctOber 2013 tex AppeAl

ON the COVER

Aidan Wright, Aaron Marks and Michaela Powers. 37 Photograph by JULIE NABOURS 

DECEMBER 2016 | TEX APPEAL

48

GIFT GUIDE

64 ADVERTISER’S INDEX

TexTalk WELL-FED HEAD “Deadly Encounter” by DiAnn Mills

55 TexVOLUNTEERS Christmas for Kids at Hope House

59 TexADVENTURES Elgin Christmas tree farm

66 TexTHERAPY


CLIEN JOB#: 2014 A

Why choose natural gas?

TRIM: 7 LIVE: 7 BLEED COLOR

BECAUSE IT’S

PUB: T CONTA Liz Jac lizj@td 254-77

THE BEST WAY TO KEEP

YOUR FAMILY WARMER AND

RELEA PRINT

COZIER. WhyChooseNaturalGas.com

TEXAPPEALMAG.COM ATMO-14-014 WCNG HotChoc_7_875x5_125.indd 1



11/19/14 4:52 PM


From the Editor

Tex Appeal Life & Style in Central Texas

Dear Readers, Another year has passed and the holidays are upon us. Christmas is just around the corner, and families are getting ready to come together and celebrate. Through the years, Christmas seems to have taken on a different meaning for some people. The true meaning seems to have gotten lost in the commercialism of the season while some retail outlets open earlier, and close later, every year to accommodate the throngs of shoppers looking for the best deal on that special gift. Shopping and gift exchange may be a big part of the holiday, but too often the emphasis is on “receiving” and not “giving.” This month, meet some of your neighbors who believe that giving is the best gift of all. Through the magic of faith, First United Methodist Church of Killeen will once again transform their back lot into the town of Bethlehem on the night that Christ was born. Congregant Bryan Charlton and his army of volunteers continue to improve and evolve the town and the message it conveys by keeping Christ in Christmas, Page 26. “You’d better watch out; You’d better not cry; You’d better not pout; I’m telling you why,” to borrow a line from “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” except in this case it’s “Santa Paws is Coming to Town.” Say hello to Anita Baez, a.k.a. Santa Paws. For 20 years, she has been bringing her menagerie of therapy pets to visit the residents of the Western Hills Nursing Home in Temple. Dogs, cats and birds, all obedience trained, are dressed in Christmas costumes and yap, squawk, and meow their way into the hearts of residents. It’s hard not to smile when one of these fluffy furred or feathered good Samaritans flounces or bounces its way onto your lap, Page 11. Christmas is for kids, and the folks at Hope for the Hungry’s Hope House put that phrase into action to provide Christmas for Kids through their annual family sponsorships. People and organizations can sponsor or adopt a Belton Housing Authority family at Christmas and make sure all the children have gifts under the tree waiting to be opened on Christmas morning, Page 55. The gift of dance is what the Texas Metropolitan Ballet dance studio is offering to the community this year. Open since July, and owned by internationally acclaimed principal dancer Randall Marks, the company is performing “The Nutcracker” in Killeen and Temple, Page 37. If the thought of a white Christmas seems a little too cold for you, take a trip to Polynesia with the Sivi Ori Polynesia dance troupe in Killeen and learn about dance, family and their favorite holiday treat, lumpia, Page 43. For a fun adventure, visit the Elgin Christmas Tree Farm where families can enjoy being outdoors, gift shopping and choosing their own fresh Christmas tree. Afterward, drive back into Elgin for some of Texas’ best barbecue, Page 59. If you are looking for something to do in Central Texas this holiday season, check out the holiday happenings, Page 31. Every year there are several festivals to attend, from Belton and Temple to Salado, Harker Heights, Killeen and Copperas Cove. Whichever direction you go this season, take a break, pour yourself a glass or cup of your favorite holiday beverage and enjoy the December issue of Tex Appeal. Wishing you a safe and peaceful Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Catherine Hosman

Tex Appeal Editor editor@texappealmag.com 254-501-7511 

DECEMBER 2016 | TEX APPEAL

Published by FRANK MAYBORN ENTERPRISES, INC. KILLEEN DAILY HERALD 1809 Florence Rd., Killeen, TX 76540

TEMPLE DAILY TELEGRAM 10 S. Third St., Temple, TX 76501

Publisher SUE MAYBORN Editor CATHERINE HOSMAN Editorial Director ROSE FITZPATRICK Photographers/Graphic Designers

M. CLARE HAEFNER JULIE NABOURS Contributors FRED AFFLERBACH MITCHEL BARRETT GABE WOLF Advertising 254-778-4444 254-501-7500

Tex Appeal Magazine is published monthly by Frank Mayborn Enterprises, Inc. 10 S. Third St., Temple, TX 76501. The cover and content of Tex Appeal Magazine is fully protected by copyright and cannot be reproduced in any manner without prior permission. Subscriptions: For the United States, $24 per year, 12 issues. Mail check to P.O. Box 6114, Temple, TX 76503-6114.

Questions about subscriptions, call 254-778-4444.

Postmaster: Send address changes to: Tex Appeal Magazine, P.O. Box 6114, Temple, TX 76503-6114. How to contact us: Advertising: Call 254-778-4444 or 254-501-7500. Editorial: Contact Catherine Hosman at 254-501-7511 or email editor@texappealmag.com.


Well-Connected Life and

Style in

Central

Honing

student

s use spR

in the spo

leadership

ing bRe

Solar Ctlienght Tex

Texas

ak to seR ve othe

August

A place of their ow n Creating opportun ity Ralph Wi lso

2

OctOb er 2013

2016

Rs

n Yout

tex App

eAl

h Club

WelCo

mes all

paRRie ha Yn

es RanC h C5 pRo

gRam

x Ap 13 te

1

peAl

r 20 Obe Oct

1

r Obe Oct

Ap tex 2013

peAl 1

Oct Obe r 20 13 te x Ap

peAl

DID YOU KNOW?

You can read back issues of Tex Appeal Magazine at texappealmag.com. Log on today to find the current issue and older editions of Tex Appeal. You also can connect with us on Facebook.

Share your thoughts with us

Email a letter to editor@texappealmag.com. Please include your name and a phone number for verification. TEXAPPEALMAG.COM




Contributors Fred AFFLERBACH is an award-winning writer and novelist, college graduate at age 50, and former long-haul trucker. His stories and columns have been published in daily newspapers across Texas. His novel, “Roll On,” debuted in 2012, and is an interstate odyssey about a man afflicted with an incurable wanderlust despite pressure from family and friends to settle down. Fred lives in Cedar Park with his wife, Diane, and enjoys perusing Central Texas backroads with a keen eye out for roadrunners, old trucks and lipstick sunsets.

MITCHEL BARRETT is an award-winning photographer and owner of Mitchel Barrett Photography. Although originally from the British Virgin Islands, for the past 12 years he has come to call the city of Killeen his home. He developed his love of photography while attending high school and the KISD Career Center, and has enjoyed life behind the lens ever since. When not busy taking photos, you can probably find him at the movies with friends or at home with his family and two dogs.

GABE Wolf is an award-winning photojournalist, with the most recent being the 2015 Barbara Jordan Media Award. He lives in Kempner with wife Stephenie, two dogs, Benny and Joon, three cats, Mouse, Veruca and Augustus, and two horses, Trouble and China. He’s been a professional photographer for the past 15 years, documenting the Western Lifestyle with his wife and business partner, Stephenie.

JOIN the Tex Appeal TEAM

Tex Appeal Magazine is looking for photographers and freelance writers with experience photographing and/or writing features for a newspaper or magazine. We are seeking candidates from the Central Texas area. Candidates must be detail- and deadline-oriented and good storytellers, and must be familiar with AP style. Ability for writers to take photos is a plus, but not required. Interested candidates may send their resumes and three to five recent stories and/or photographs for consideration to editor@texappealmag.com. 10

DECEMBER 2016 | TEX APPEAL


neighbors 12

flavours 16

scene 18

TexTalk

calendar 22

well-fed head 24

Spreading holiday cheer Anita Baez, a.k.a. Santa Paws, brings her menagerie to the Western Hills Nursing Home in Temple. Counter clockwise from left: Mandisa, an African gray parrot; Sofia, a Maltese; Jolie, a miniature poodle; Hannah, a Yorkie; and Delilah, an umbrella cockatoo. TEXAPPEALMAG.COM 11


TexTalk neighbors

Pets entertain residents at Senior Care of Western Hills

Story by CATHERINE HOSMAN Photos by MITCHEL BARRETT and CONTRIBUTED by ANITA BAEZ

S

anta Paws, a.k.a. Anita Baez, steps out of her car in the parking lot at the Senior Care of Western Hills nursing home in Temple surrounded by an assortment of critters decked out in their Christmas best. The menagerie of birds and dogs, a total of six, squawk, yap and run in circles, eager to get into the building to visit the residents. Baez places Jolie, a one-eyed miniature poodle, and Sofia, a 14-year-old Maltese into a pet stroller; Delilah, a 16year-old umbrella cockatoo and Mandisa, a 15-year-old African Gray Parrot perch themselves on the stroller’s handle. Pumpkin, a South American sun conure parrot, hitches a ride on Santa Paws’ shoulder. Hannah, her Yorkie, leads the parade as the group makes its way into the home. Once inside the foyer, a cacophony of animal voices can be heard throughout the building as the squawks, yaps and barks get louder. One by one she collects her brood and adjusts their costumes and the birds’ flight suits that are really just a disguise to cover their diapers. “When you gotta go, you gotta go,” Baez said as she attached the Velcro straps under Delilah’s chest. As she turns to adjust the straps on the tiny Pumpkin, Delilah is busy pulling apart the straps of her flight suit with her beak in an effort to disrobe. Baez tries a few more times to keep her garment secure and eventually, Delilah lets the straps be. After making sure the dogs’ costumes are snug in place, the troupe is ready to stroll through halls of the home with Hannah forging the way. “Hannah is the alpha dog,” Baez said. “She is the boss of everybody. She helps Jolie get around and they have become best friends.” Hannah is Jolie’s seeing eye dog companion. Hannah knows Jolie cannot see well, she only has one eye after losing one to cataracts, and often wanders off in a different direction. Hannah is quick 12

DECEMBER 2016 | TEX APPEAL

Sofia and Hannah dressed up for Halloween. The dogs visit Senior Care of Western Hills nursing home in Temple to spend time with residents.

“Some people have never touched a bird before. Touching, holding and petting a dog calms a person. It helps them so much. I like to share the joy and happiness I receive. It is my responsibility to share it.”

— Anita Baez

to respond, staying close to Jolie, and herding her back to the group. With the troupe in place, Hannah takes the lead, her little furry body bouncing down the halls, greeting all that come in contact with her. Sofia, on the other hand, smells something interesting being rolled into the resident dining room. In a flash, she turns around and

follows the scent, finding her way to seated diners, waiting for something to drop her way. “Sofia, a Maltese, is the matriarch with a problem,” Baez said, a giggle in her voice, while she calls out to Sofia in Spanish, because all her dogs are bilingual. “She loves to eat. While walking down the hallway she smells the food in


Anita Baez, a.k.a. Santa Paws, dances and sings with her fur kids to entertain residents Hildona Messer and Edmund Mendez. With a flip of the switch on the Snoopy doll, the parrots and dogs sing along with Baez to the delight of their captured audience.

the dining room. She is all about eating, and when it comes to food, she will run. She is usually slow.” Watching the group make its way through the maze of hallways to visit residents, there is a distinct jingle of bells coming from one of Baez’s legs. Wrapped around her knee is the bell collar that belonged to her beloved Labrador, Jake, who passed away. She wears it in memory of him. “Many of them (the residents) don’t get a visitor,” said Baez, an information security officer with the Department of

Veterans Affairs. “They may have families from out of state. It’s very hard on them, so we share the love of our pets with the rest of them.” “Anita is so encouraging about letting the animals be involved with everybody,” said Deborah Stiehl, wellness life and enrichment director for Western Hills Senior Center. “It’s just like being at home and these are your own pets. It is your home and your pets are there to visit.” Stiehl said Baez visits at least once a month, and sometimes twice.

“It’s a win-win-win situation,” Baez said. “It wins because the dogs love to be petted, residents love the animals (they can’t have animals so we bring them to them), and for the volunteers it gives us such joy to see the happiness between the residents and the pets.” “It makes me feel happy,” said resident Edmund Mendez, as he cradled Sofia on his lap in the resident lounge. “They make me smile,” added resident Hildona Messer, holding Jolie. “It so rewarding to see the residents Continued TEXAPPEALMAG.COM

13


open up, smile, give kisses and be involved hugging the pets,” Stiehl said. “For people that cannot get out of bed, Anita puts the dogs up on the bed and the birds sit on the bed rails. It’s a whole menagerie. If Anita plays music, the birds will sit there and dance.” But it isn’t just the residents that benefit from the visit. “I am blessed in the way that God has allowed me to have my pets, and healthy for so long, and I feel in this blessing I really need to share that happiness they give me with the residents I know don’t have their pets,” said Baez, who is often accompanied by another pet volunteer. “All my life I’ve had pets. Once you go into a nursing home, it’s not by choice. If I ever have to go into a nursing home, I pray and hope there is someone who will share their pets with me.” Baez said she’s been doing therapy pet visits since 1997 when a group of students at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor got the idea for a pet therapy project. It was a six month project that went beyond its expiration date thanks to the caring volunteers who continue pet therapy visits today. In the early days, Baez they would visit the VA hospital and nursing homes three Saturdays a month. “We would go with the dogs to visit inpatient or outpatient residents. We always dressed up in costume, depending on the season — Fourth of July, Halloween, Valentine’s Day. Now I usually do special occasions like Christmas or Halloween, just a few times a year.” Baez said all pets are obedience trained and up to date on all their vaccines before visiting homes.

From a tropical island to Texas Baez was born and raised in Puerto Rico and said as a child, her family always had dogs and cats. “My love affair with animals started a long time ago,” she said. “One of the first photos of me is as a baby surrounded by puppies.” In addition to cats and dogs, Baez said she and her siblings had an assortment of birds, turtles, fish and hamsters as they were growing up. She called her childhood an innocent time when she and her friends would get together, take bus trips to the beach, go to movies or hang out at the mall. “We 14

DECEMBER 2016 | TEX APPEAL

Delilah, a 16-year-old umbrella cockatoo, is ready to wave the flag on the Fourth of July.

were having fun, doing the right thing,” she said. Her parents were from different cultures. Her mom was from Scotland and migrated to America when she was still in her 20s. Her dad was Puerto Rican. Her parents met when they were both living in New York. She said her mom had never heard of Puerto Rico. “I’m half Scottish and half Puerto Rican,” Baez said. She grew up bilingual, speaking English at home and Spanish with her friends and at school. Jolie was her late mother’s pet, still

living in Puerto Rico with her father. After her dad passed away, Baez went back to the island and brought Jolie home to Texas. Baez likes sharing her pets with others. She said the residents can associate and relate to the loving feeling of holding a dog, or seeing a bird. “Some people have never touched a bird before,” she said. “Touching, holding and petting a dog calms a person. It helps them so much. I like to share the joy and happiness I receive. It is my responsibility to share it.”


TEXAPPEALMAG.COM

15


TexTalk flavours

Taste the flavors of the island at Tex-Rican restaurant

Story by CATHERINE HOSMAN Photos by MITCHEL BARRETT

I

f you are looking for a happy place to dine your worries away, Tex-Rican restaurant in Killeen offers up a taste of authentic Puerto Rican cuisine in a family-friendly establishment. Walk through the doors of the unassuming restaurant with the flag of Puerto Rico painted on the window, and you are swept away to the tropical island; you can almost feel the warm sea breeze. Latin music playing in the background has some customers moving to the rhythm while waiting for their orders. If it is your first time dining a la Puerto Rico, ask the owner, Edwin Camuy, to steer you in the right direction. For this first-time diner of authentic Puerto Rican cuisine, Camuy prepared a chicken fricassee (stew) with Caribbean rice and plantains, and a mofungo, his specialty, with garlic shrimp and a side salad. The mofungo can be eaten by itself or stuffed with the protein entrée. “That (mofungo) is the first dish someone would want to try if they visited Puerto Rico,” he said. “It’s the most interesting to try because it also looks nice.” The plantain is a tropical banana and is a regional food from the island that accompanies most dishes. Each plate was unique in its presentation and taste. The chicken was tender and fell off the bone with a touch of the fork. It was bathed in a Caribbean sauce and delicately seasoned with Puerto Rican spices. The tender garlic shrimp was fragrant and tasty. Dessert was a cup of homemade coconut pudding. Camuy opened his first restaurant in Harker Heights six and a half years ago before moving it to Killeen in 2013. “This is where I could support the Caribbean soldiers. Most business for lunch comes from soldiers,” he said. “I want to bring the best Puerto Rican flavor and food to Killeen town.” Everything is made from scratch, and Camuy said what he offers is, “real 16

DECEMBER 2016 | TEX APPEAL

traditional flavor of the Puerto Rican food.” The restaurant seats up to 65 customers. Patrons can dine in, carry out, or cater their next event. For residents living on the other side of town, Camuy opened The Shack, a Caribbean seafood restaurant in Harker Heights last month.

TEX-RICAN RESTAURANT 1026 S. Fort Hood St., Killeen Phone: 254-213-2776 Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, closed Sunday


Edwin Camuy shared his recipes for chicken fricassee with Caribbean rice with pigeon peas. This will easily serve a large family. You will need to prepare Sofrito for Puerto Rican recipes. Specialty items can be purchased at the Puerto Rican & Caribbean Grocery Store, 105-117 E. Avenue D in Killeen, or in the Hispanic food aisle of your neighborhood grocer.

SOFRITO BASIC CONDIMENT Step 1 3 large yellow onions, peeled and cut in pieces 3 large green peppers, seeded and cut in pieces 6 heads garlic, peeled (or to taste) 2 bunches fresh cilantro, washed and trimmed ½ teaspoon whole dry oregano 2 tablespoon garlic salt 2 tablespoon adobo goya with pepper 12 sweet chili peppers, seeded Step 2 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar 1. Wash and mix ingredients in a bowl. 2. In a blender with a little water base, start blending all ingredients until smooth. Add oil and vinegar in Step 2. 3. Pour into a large bowl. 4. Spoon mixture into empty styrofoam egg cartons and place in freezer. 5. When frozen, empty sofrito cube in plastic freezer bags until ready to use. They will keep for a long time — makes enough to use for 15 recipes.

CHICKEN FRICASSEE (CHICKEN STEW) Step 1 3 pounds chicken pieces, washed and sprinkled with lemon juice Step 2 2 tablespoons olive oil 2 ounces salt pork, diced 2 ounces lean ham, diced 1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced Step 3 1 cup pimento stuffed olives, cut in halves 1 teaspoon capers 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar 2 bay leaves 1 can tomato sauce

1 cup Sofrito basic condiment 1 teaspoon adobo goya with pepper 1/3 teaspoon garlic salt 2 packages sazon goya with cilantro and achiote 2½ potatoes, peeled and cubed 1 4-ounce can red pimentos Step 4 1½ cup water 1. In a heavy pot, heat oil. Brown salt pork and ham. 2. Add onions and stir until onions are translucent 3. Add all ingredients in Step 3. Saute for about 20 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add water from Step 4. 4. Add chicken pieces and mix well. Cover and boil for 45 minutes on moderate heat. 5. Check for seasoning, doneness and thickness.

RICE WITH PIGEON PEAS Step 1 2 cups ham, cubed (small pieces) 1 cup ham fat, diced 1 cup salt pork, diced ¼ cup olive oil ¼ cup canola oil Step 2 2 cups pork meet, cubed and seasoned with garlic salt 1 teaspoon garlic salt 1 large yellow onion, peeled and chopped Step 3 1 cup Sofrito basic condiment

½ cup olives stuffed with red pimento, cut in halves 1 teaspoon capers 2 packages sazon goya with cilantro and achiote 1 jar red pimento, diced small 1 teaspoon adobo goya with peppers 2 tablespoon garlic salt 1 cube beef bouillon 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce 1 large can stewed tomatoes Step 4 8 cups medium grain rice 9 cups water 2 cans gandules (pigeon peas) goya with their water (you can substitute pinto or navy beans). Left over rice can be frozen. 1. Heat oil in a large heavy pot. Add ham fat and salt pork. Fry all together to get about two cups of fat. Add ham and cook for about five more minutes. 2. Add ingredients in Step 2 and stir-fry for 10 minutes. 3. Add all ingredients in Step 3 and stir for five minutes. 4. Add ingredients from Step 4. Turn it from bottom to top to have all of the seasoning blended. Cover and let cook for 20 minutes on medium heat. Uncover and turn it again from bottom to top. Turn heat to low. Cover and let it cook for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes of cooking, uncover and turn it again. Recover and let it cook for 10 minutes. NOTE: If rice is a little hard to the touch after cooking for 60 minutes, sprinkle a half cup of water on top, cover and let it cook for 15 minutes. Freeze leftover rice. TEXAPPEALMAG.COM

17


TexTalk scene

1

Gold Star Gala benefits Metroplex Heart and Vascular Center 2

3

1. The Four Tops provided entertainment for those gathered Nov. 4 for the 22nd annual Gold Star Gala at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center. The fundraiser, which included dinner and an auction, benefitted the Metroplex Health and Vascular Center this year. 2. Metroplex President and CEO Carlyle Walton and his wife, Astrid. 3. From left, Marlene DiLillo, Aubree Kasten and Tina Johnson. Photos by EMILY HALE 18

DECEMBER 2016 | TEX APPEAL


scene TexTalk

4

5

6

7

8

9

4. Becky and Phillip Day. 5. Krista Kasper and Ross Gaetano. 6. Brenda and Lloyd Coley.

7. From left, Iamira Alvira, Jessica Hyde and Mary Stewardson. 8. Charles Hollinger and Kathy Jones Clark. 9. Metroplex CNO Tammy Rodriguez and her daughter Annlysa. TEXAPPEALMAG.COM

19


TexTalk scene

1

Fundraiser benefits Neema House mission in Tanzania 2

20

1. On Oct. 27, the Temple Railroad & Heritage Museum was the site of a murder-mystery theater performance at a fundraising dinner event for the Neema House, which was founded by Dorris and Michael Fortson, in Tanzania, Africa. 2. Sue Hamby, center, receives flowers from Michael and Dorris Fortson for her efforts in planning the evening’s fundraiser. 3. Some of the murder-mystery performers entertain the crowd. 4. Dr. Terry Rascoe was the murderer in the evening’s mystery, and Dr. Sonjanette Crossley narrated the performance. 5. Susan Chandler with Dorris Fortson. 6. Edgar Ortiz and Gabriela Mendoza take a photo with a performer dressed as Elvis Presley. 7. From left, Gary and Paula Meyer and Linda Johnson. Photos by Zoe Rascoe DECEMBER 2016 | TEX APPEAL


scene TexTalk

3

4

5

6

7

TEXAPPEALMAG.COM

21


TexTalk calendar

Country Dances at Belton Senior Center Dec. 1, Old Friends performs Dec. 15, Christmas dance with Larry Burgin, Texas Tradition Dec. 19, Potluck Dinner with Quinton Locklin, “Frank Sinatra Christmas” Bring a small food item for the snack table for the dances. $5 suggested donation For more information, call 254-939-1170 842 Mitchell St., Belton City of Harker Heights Gingerbread House Contest Dec. 9 Judging: 5:30-8:30 p.m. during the annual Frost Fest celebration. Make a 100 percent edible gingerbread structure (excluding baseboard) and drop it off at Frost Fest from 3 to 5 p.m. A gingerbread contest entry form must be submitted and can be found at www.ci.harker-heights.tx.us/ parks. Market Heights Shopping Center, 201 E. Central Texas Expressway. For information call, 254-953-5465. City of Harker Heights 17th annual Heights Lights on Parade Outdoor Lighting/Decorating Contest Register through Dec. 1. Judging and voting: Dec. 12 to 14. 6 p.m., Citywide The Harker Heights Parks and

22

DECEMBER 2016 | TEX APPEAL

Recreation Department will host its annual Christmas outdoor decorating contest within the city limits. Each division will have two categories: owner decorated and professionally decorated. There will be awards for first place, second place, and people’s choice in Division I, Division II, and Division IV. In Division III, there will be first place, second place, and people’s choice awarded per area. To register for this free, visit www.ci.harkerheights.tx.us/parks or stop by the Harker Heights Recreation Center, 307 Miller’s Crossing, or the Harker Heights Activities Center, 400 Indian Trail. For more information, call 254-953-5465.

Salado Ghostwalk Dec. 1, 8 p.m. $20, cash only Arrive 10 minutes early to purchase tickets and light your lantern (provided). As twilight falls, meet at the lantern-lit “ghost wagon” across the street from the Stagecoach Inn in downtown Salado. The tour lasts for approximately 1½ hours and is recommended for ages 13 and older. Not wheelchair accessible. A weather cancellation notice will be posted on the website by 6 p.m. the day of event. For more, visit www.saladoghostwalk. com or email info@saladoghostwalk.com. A Christmas Carol at Tablerock Dec. 2 and 3; Dec. 9 and 10 Concessions open at 6:30 p.m.

Show begins at 7 p.m. $10 adults, $5 students; $3 children 12 and younger. Tickets sold at the gate the night of performance. Tickets also available in advance at www.tablerock.org. For group tickets (20 or more) call 254-947-9205. Tablerock Amphitheater, Salado For more information, email tablerock1@ aol.com or visit www.tablerock.org.

Santa at the Depot Railroad History Museum Dec. 3, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Free Take part in the downtown familyfriendly celebration. Santa will arrive by train at 10 a.m. and meet with kids throughout the day. Stop by for crafts, music and old-fashioned holiday fun. 315 W. Avenue B, Temple For more information, call 254-298-5172 or visit rrhm.org. Friends of the Gatesville Public Library present A Celtic Christmas Concert with Jerry Barlow Dec. 5, 6:30 p.m. Free The Friends of the Gatesville Public Library will welcome Celtic finger style guitarist Jerry Barlow for a special Celtic Christmas concert. Gatesville Civic Center 301 Veterans Memorial Loop For more information, call Faye Nichols at 254-865-5367. To learn more about Barlow, visit www.jerrybarlow.com.


calendar TexTalk

Gatesville presents Christmas in the Park Lighted Drive-Thru Display Dec. 10 – Jan. 1 Faunt Le Roy Park in Gatesville will be aglow with lighted and animated holiday displays from dusk to 11 p.m. Free admission, courtesy of local business sponsors. Concessions and Santa will be available on select nights. At the end of South Seventh Street. For more information, call Cheri Shepherd at 254-865-8951 or email cheri.shepherd@ci.gatesville.tx.us.

Pepper Creek Trail. W. Highway 2305, Temple For more information, call 254-298-5440.

The Derailers at the Cultural Activities Center Dec. 10, 7:30 p.m. The Derailers celebrate the legacies of Buck Owens, George Jones, Roy Orbison, Elvis Presley, Charlie Rich and the Beatles, while still being on the edge of today’s country music. $23 in advance $27 at the door 3011 N. Third St., Temple For more information, call 254-773-9926 or visit www.cacarts.org.

Second Annual New Year’s gala benefiting The Ralph Wilson Youth Club Dec. 31, 7:30 p.m. midnight This black-tie event features live music by Austin band Blind Date; valet parking, craft cocktails, elegant cuisine and fireworks at midnight. Optional round-trip transportation is available (with sponsorship). Child care is available at the Ralph Wilson Youth Club for a donation. Optional room and brunch package are available. $275 per person, table sponsorship available. Advanced reservations only. For more information, contact Sherrie Wilson at 254-773-9001 or swilson@rwyc.org or visit https://www. facebook.com/Last-Night-Gala-RWYC1501928573444522/.

Sammons Community Center 16th annual Senior Christmas Dinner Dec. 13, 6-8:30 p.m. $5 per person; reservations required. Seniors age 50 and older are invited to this annual event as Santa and his helpers serve a traditional holiday feast. Musical entertainment is provided throughout the evening. Make your reservations before Dec.

Bend O’ the River Christmas Dec. 17, 3-8 p.m. See Cowboy Santa, enjoy Christmas caroling, wagon rides, arts and crafts and more. 7915 General Bruce Drive, Temple For more information, call 254-298-5440 or visit TempleParks.com.

Martha Plume is met at the door by Trent Birkes, 7, with a candy cane, before the Sammons Community Center’s Senior Christmas Dinner in 2015.

6, at the Blackmon Community Center (1807 Curtis B. Elliott Drive, Temple). Frank J. Mayborn Center 3033 N. Third St., Temple For more information, call 254-298-5403.

12th annual Schlotzky’s Jingle Bell Bun Run Dec. 10 Half Marathon: 8:45 a.m. 5K: 9 a.m. 1K Family Fun Run: 10:30 a.m. Pre-registration closes Dec. 4 Race Day registration available. Come run with Santa for the holidays. All races begin and end at the

To have your event considered for listing in the calendar, email information to editor@texappealmag.com.

TEXAPPEALMAG.COM

23


TexTalk well-fed head

Mills delivers another romantic thriller in ‘Deadly Encounter’

By M. CLARE HAEFNER

F

rom the first chapter, when Houston airport ranger volunteer and veterinarian Dr. Stacy Broussard makes a grisly discovery, it’s clear “Deadly Encounter” will be another thrilling read from DiAnn Mills. The first novel in her new FBI Task Force series is packed with action and adventure as her main characters uncover and attempt to solve a mystery that begins with murder, an injured dog, the dead man’s motorcycle and an armed drone equipped with a laser powerful enough to take down a 747. Like her previous novels, “Deadly Encounter” (Tyndale Fiction, 2016) adds to the suspenseful story with a blossoming romance between Broussard and FBI Special Agent Alex LeBlanc, who is assigned to the case. Initially seeing a clear-cut case of domestic terrorism, the wary FBI agent begins to wonder if the bleeding-heart veterinarian was targeted as he starts to uncover connections between a string of incidents affecting his fellow Louisiana transplant. It’s easy to get lost in the stories Mills weaves. Her characters are fully formed and emotional connections go beyond the surface, transporting the readers to her fictionalized version of Houston and bringing them along for the ride as the thrilling mystery is solved. While it’s easy to like the lead characters and their wariness to give in to mutual attraction, my favorite character is a 12-year-old genius named Whitt. All but abandoned by his deadbeat parents, the boy basically lives with his neighbor, Stacy, who gives him a job and a place in her heart. Some of the novel’s best passages involve Whitt’s too-smart-forhis-age dialogue as he struggles to understand the emotions he feels about his shattered family life. Not knowing how the story will unfold, you can’t help but root for Whitt and Stacy, hoping that they overcome obstacles so she is able to become the mother he so desperately needs, and that Alex will find a permanent place in both their lives. While Alex and Stacy seem like polar opposites, their early discovery of shared Cajun heritage opens the door for a relationship to bloom. “People respond to loss, guilt and heart wrenching pain according to their personalities. Some dig deeper for strength to survive while others use those happenings as an excuse to justify inappropriate actions. Stacy and Alex are courageous survivors who strive to make the world a better place by using their backstory to fight for others. Although seemingly different, Stacy and Alex come together to find out who is hurting innocent people and why — no matter the cost,” Mills said. While earlier works have focused on the FBI, Mills said she wanted to do something a little different with “Deadly Encounter,” showing how the FBI works with other agencies to keep Americans safe at home. “While readers are immersed in story and living the lives of my characters, my desire is for readers to understand I’ll do whatever it takes to bring them a real story with real characters in real situations,” she said. “Deadly Encounter” is inspired by real people. “My passion 24

DECEMBER 2016 | TEX APPEAL

began at the FBI Citizens Academy a few years ago. There I met a woman who worked with animals and was involved as a volunteer with Houston’s Airport Rangers. She loved her role of patrolling the perimeter of the airport on horseback. The more I discovered about her volunteer position, the more I wanted to write a story about a woman who shared the same background and enthusiasm. She planted a seed for a story that refused to leave me alone,” Mills said. The story won’t leave readers alone either. It was impossible to put down, as the twists and turns kept coming in the wellpaced novel. It’s definitely worth getting wrapped up in this “Deadly Encounter.” If this is your first encounter with DiAnn Mills, be sure to pick up her earlier novels along with the next FBI Task Force series novel “Deep Extraction,” which will be released in April. Mills said it delves into the world of Houston’s oil and gas business. “This book explores what happens when money and greed become the ruling power of a man’s life — and death.” And Mills said she’s always interested to hear what readers think. You can connect with her and share in the adventure at www.diannmills.com.


Free Christmas Movies December 22, 23, 24 @ 9:30am more details coming soon on our website

TEXAPPEALMAG.COM

25


Bryan Charlton, coordinator of A Walk through Bethlehem, plays a shepherd in the annual pageant. 26

DECEMBER 2016 | TEX APPEAL


Reason for the season

Killeen church presents annual A Walk Through Bethlehem Story by CATHERINE HOSMAN Photos by MITCHEL BARRETT and contributed by FUMC in Killeen

O

utside the back door of the First United Methodist Church in Killeen, there is a hilly drop-off covered with brush and other Central Texas flora. Standing at the top of the hill looking down across the valley along Elms Road, a small village is visible through the brush, quiet in its absence of people. On Dec. 2, all that changes as the town comes alive for another year when the residents of Bethlehem return to celebrate the night that baby Jesus was born at FUMC’s annual A Walk through Bethlehem. A potter, perfumer and basket weaver will be working in their shops and displaying their wares, while some of the townspeople will be attending synagogue, having dinner with their families or shopping in the town’s market. Now in its 11th year, A Walk Through Bethlehem attracts hundreds of people and for a few hours, visitors can take a peek into what life was like on the evening that Jesus was born. For the past four years, A Walk Through Bethlehem has been under the direction of congregant Bryan Charlton, a Harker Heights High School math teacher by day and a creative force by night. “This allows me my alter ego,” he said, smiling. “It’s my creative side.” Charlton’s enthusiasm for this project is clear when he speaks about the story being told. He knows it’s not his story and said, “God told the story. The glory goes to God, and I want people to see what He put in my head.” He also knows he doesn’t do this alone.

In the beginning In all started in 2005 when former Pastor Skip Blancett got the idea for the village. “It was during the time when First

In Bethlehem, Mary and Joseph welcome their newborn son, Jesus, into the world.

A Walk through Bethlehem Dec. 2, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 9, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Re-enactment Dec. 3, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Dec. 10, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Dec. 4, 5 to 6 p.m. First United Methodist Church Killeen, 3501 East Elms Road Phone: 254-634-6363 Methodist was building the new sanctuary on Elms,” said congregant Jerry Duggar. “The land down by the creek was part

of the purchase for the new sanctuary. A group of men got together to decide how we could serve this new community on this creek bed.” Duggar said a group of men came together to brainstorm ways “to build a meaningful project that would serve as a permanent outreach of faith into the community.” “It would also build support for this new sanctuary on this new property,” Duggar said. Duggar and a team of men, along with 25 other members of the church worked on planning the building. “Each Continued TEXAPPEALMAG.COM

27


had a different talent; but all worked together,” he said. While the men were constructing the village, with help from members of the church’s youth group and a couple of Eagle Scouts who completed their projects on site, the women were busy making the costumes and gathering the furnishings. “All of the work came from the men (and women) of the church,” Charlton said. “They built the village.” And like any living village, it has continued to grow during the 11 years the story has been told. “This fall, a vandal burned the stable to the ground. While it was tragic, God’s plan is much more powerful,” Duggar said. “Our group of men had already prepared the foundation for a new stable across the creek and it was already framed before the old stable was destroyed.”

Retelling the story of Christ’s Birth Planning an annual production of this magnitude takes dozens of volunteers, and hours of labor. When Charlton took over the reins, he said he didn’t want to see the “sweat, labor and blood of all the men and women who built the village die out.” “People were moving and someone had to take the lead,” he said. “I had things I wanted to see, to honor the folks who built it.” When Charlton took over, the production was in a period of transition. The first two years presented unexpected challenges, including one performance when the shepherds were on the hill and he tried to get the sound to the shepherds, via generator-powered electric, with not too much luck. As he stood there, looking up at the shepherds and the three crosses on the hill, a full moon rose behind the crosses, illuminating the hillside. “It was God telling me to get out of the way,” he said. “I stepped back and saw a full moon rise behind the three crosses.” He knew he had to continue striving to improve the production — to let God take over. “I heard God say to me, ‘It’s OK the way it is. People are going to hear the story and it will be fine.’” This year will be the first year without generator-powered lighting and sound. “This is our first year with electrical service,” Charlton said. “There is more we can start planning to do with light and sound.” 28

DECEMBER 2016 | TEX APPEAL

For the past four years, A Walk Through Bethlehem has been under the direction of congregant Bryan Charlton, a Harker Heights High School math teacher by day and a creative force by night.

With the help of the new electrical line and modern technology, Charlton said actors won’t have to worry about forgetting their lines. The script is prerecorded by the actors and played over a loudspeaker so everyone can hear the dialogue. Charlton said the good part about telling this story is that God has already written it. “All I have to do is use the story and that story is what I tell,” Charlton said. Charlton writes the script every year but acknowledges that the scripts are directly from the Bible. “God is telling the story. Every year we add something new (from scripture) to the story,” he said. This year he wants to emphasize the

fact that Joseph and Mary “were a real man and woman.” “I want to tell the story of those emotions,” he said. “Mary was an outcast. The only place they could go was the Inn and they were rejected. Possibly, this is symbolic of the world’s rejection of Jesus.” The expectant couple had to find shelter somewhere else. Traditionally, the story told that Christ was born in a manger, surrounded by hay and animals. Today the common idea is that Mary and Joseph actually took shelter in a cave. To enhance the performance and to keep it relevant for today’s younger generation, Charlton adds modern Christian music to the performance and


ABOVE: A basket weaver shows her wares at the town market. BELOW: Pottery made by hand on a potters wheel.

utilizes the songs to tell the story. “We’ll add more dialogue this year, more real feeling, more emotion,” he said. “We want to create a performance that tells the story.”

The planning begins Charlton begins planning for next year’s event as soon as the current year’s program ends. After this year’s performance, he and church members will write an action report to see what worked and what didn’t. If Charlton comes up with a new idea for the village, he takes it to Duggar and Bob Kure, Methodist Park committee chairman in charge of maintenance. “I take my ideas and sound off to them and they get it done,” Charlton said. Duggar and Kure maintain the village and choose to stay behind the scenes, Charlton said. “So many people work with them. We remodel when we have to keep old things and add new stuff every single year,” Charlton said. “I let God take the reins and he leads us to where he wants us to go.” TEXAPPEALMAG.COM

29


30

DECEMBER 2016 | TEX APPEAL


A red, white and blue arc of stars leads the way to a colorfully lit holiday village along the BLORA light display.

Here comes Santa Claus

Family-friendly holiday events around Central Texas

T

here are many holiday events happening around Central Texas, and activities can be found in each of the local communities. From Copperas Cove to Temple and all places in between, there is something for everyone to celebrate Christmas in 2016.

FORT HOOD 20th annual Nature in Lights Twinkling for 20 Nature in Lights turns Belton Lake Outdoor Recreation Area into a winter wonderland for kids and kids at heart. This event is open to the public and visitors can drive through the 800-plusacre park nightly to view 5½ miles of illuminated displays, many computer animated, and ranging in size from a single strand to scenes spanning 40 feet by 300 feet wide, as well as architectural and foliage lighting. Guests can shop for gifts, take photographs with Santa, and enjoy

homemade cookies, hot chocolate and other treats at Santa’s Village, located in the park’s enclosed and heated Live Oak pavilion. Visitors can also stop at Santa’s Depot, located at BLORA’s Marina parking lot, and hop aboard the train for a ride through an exclusive trail of lights, enjoy concessions under the stars, ride a pony, shop for glow-in-the-dark toys, or just stretch their legs on a playground before the ride home. Holiday cartoons will be showing on select evenings at the Depot’s outdoor theater. Cyclists are invited to ride through the lights without vehicle traffic during Spoke (bicycle) and Cycle (motorcycle) nights. Trail of Lights Now through Jan. 8, nightly 5:30 to 11 p.m. Santa’s Village and Santa’s Depot Thursday through Sunday through Dec. 11, then nightly: Dec. 15 to 24 Outdoor Theater: Holiday cartoons Dec. 3, 10, 17 and 24, weather permitting. Cycle Night: Jan. 4 (Jan. 5 rain date)

Spoke Night: Jan. 9 (Jan. 10 rain date) Partial trail of lights starts at 6 p.m. from the Liberty Hill Road park entrance. Adults $3/bicycle; 12 and under $2/bicycle Train ride limited to the first 30 passengers — $3/person Tickets for the trail of lights may be purchased at the park’s main gates. Train and $5 pony ride tickets can be bought at Santa’s Depot. Rates: $15 per car, mini-van and trucks $30 per 15-passenger van, limo, RVs $50 per 24-passenger van or bus $75 per 47-plus passenger bus Come early and receive a commemorative ornament on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, while supplies last. For more information, directions and weather-related status, call the 254-2872523; for directions, visit www.hoodmwr. com.directions/htm. Continued TEXAPPEALMAG.COM

31


ABOVE: The 1st Cavalry Division Band performs during the Copperas Cove Christmas parade. BELOW: Ornaments are for sale at the Krist Kindl Markt in Copperas Cove.

COPPERAS COVE Kris Kindl Markt Dec. 2-4 Copperas Cove is gearing up for another weekend of merriment and mirth at the annual Krist Kindl Markt. Dec. 2, the market is open from 4 to 10 p.m., and at 6 p.m. Santa and city officials will flip the switch on the festival Christmas tree. On Dec. 3, the Markt is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., with a variety of vendors set up along Avenue E and Main Street and between First and Second Street and Avenues D and F. A variety of merchant and food vendors will set up along the fairway “with many unique items for sale.� Continuous entertainment begins at noon with various school choirs performing. At 3 p.m., the Christmas Parade begins and travels from the north parking lot of the Copperas Cove High School, down Avenue D and on to the Cove Terrace Shopping Center. Viewing is good on either side of the street on the parade route and spectators are encouraged to bring their own chairs. The parade usually lasts one hour, but that depends on how many entries there are. The festival remains open until 10 p.m. or as long as there are shoppers. On Dec. 4, the gates open at noon 32

DECEMBER 2016 | TEX APPEAL

and remain open until 3 p.m., or when the last shopper leaves the fairway.

BELTON 2016 Christmas on the Chisholm Trail: An Old-Fashioned Christmas Dec. 3, noon to 7 p.m. Parade, 6 p.m. A Christmas celebration filled with family fun, festive music, food, vendors, Santa Claus and a Christmas parade in downtown Belton. For more information, call 254-9335860 or visit www.Beltontexas.gov.

HARKER HEIGHTS 13th annual Frost Fest and Holiday Farmers Market Dec. 9, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. The city of Harker Heights, in partnership with the Harker Heights Chamber of Commerce, invites the community to the 13th annual Frost Fest. Enjoy free hot chocolate, cookies, and a variety of Christmas entertainment. Shop for winter produce, unique gifts, baked goods, traditional Christmas tamales, jellies, jams and relishes. Just after 5:30 p.m., Santa Claus


Volunteers prepare food for H-E-B’s Seventh Annual Feast of Sharing holiday dinner last year at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center.

with Santa Claus. There will be a first-, second- and third-place prize plus one Santa’s choice. So there are two chances to win. Other activities include a super sack slide for kids. The Harker Heights Fire Department also will be on-site with Santa Pal. Help the fire department fill a truck or ambulance with gifts for kids. Last year, Recreation and Events Coordinator Nichole Broemer said more than 2,000 people attended the event. “Now that people know we are staying at that location, we are anticipating more to attend,” Broemer said. “We’ve enjoyed the partnership with Market Heights and the businesses within Market Heights. They participated with coupons and helped with marketing.” Santa Claus waves to the crowd during the Christmas parade in downtown Belton.

arrives via a fire truck escort and is available throughout the event to meet with children. For all Gingerbread House contestants who pre-registered prior to

the event, the winning gingerbread house will be selected. Cast votes from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. All entries will be staged in the tent

KILLEEN Holiday Under the Stars Dec. 2, 6 to 10 p.m. At 6 p.m. watch the lighting of the tree. From 6:30 to 8 p.m., Santa Claus Continued TEXAPPEALMAG.COM

33


Attendees watch as the tree is lit up during the Holiday Under the Stars event at the Killeen Community Center.

visits with the kids. There will be a petting zoo, songs of the season, arts and crafts, children’s activities, a car show and refreshments. A family-friendly movie, “Elf,” begins at 8:15 p.m. Dec. 3, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. At 8 a.m. enjoy Breakfast with Santa. If you’d rather run, join the Jingle Bell Dash, also at 8 a.m. From 1 to 8 p.m., there will be children’s activities, a petting zoo, songs of the season, arts and crafts, songs of the season, live entertainment and a food truck competition. Jingle Bell Dash 5K and Breakfast in Toyland Dec. 3, 8 a.m. This is part of the Centex Race Series. Participants can pre-register at www.killeen.gov/centex or on the day of event. Breakfast in Toyland is sponsored by the American Business Women’s Association, is from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Ticket prices are $5 and include a full pancake breakfast with juice and sausage, and a photo with Santa. Tickets are available at the event. 34

DECEMBER 2016 | TEX APPEAL

54th Annual Christmas Parade “A Storybook Christmas” Dec. 10, 4:30 p.m. Christmas parade Call 254-501-7878 for information. Feast of Sharing Dec. 13, 4-8 p.m. The city of Killeen and H-E-B invite the community to a free, holiday meal with all the fixings. There will be entertainment and activities for children. Volunteers are still needed for this event and can register by calling 254-501-7878 or online at killeentxas.gov/volunteer. Killeen Civic and Conference Center 3601 S. W.S. Young Drive, Killeen Letters to Santa There is still time for kids’ letters to Santa. Children can bring their letters to the drop box by Dec. 16 at the Killeen Community Center, 2201 E. Veterans Memorial Blvd., or the Killeen Family Recreation Center at Lions Club Park, 1700 E. Stan Schlueter Loop. Be sure to put your return address on the envelope because Santa always writes back.


Temple Santa Fest Holiday Market Dec. 3, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Enjoy arts and craft vendors, food truck, carriage rides, carolers, and great deals from downtown merchants. Welcome Santa and his elves to town as they arrive by train to the Railroad & Heritage Museum. Parents can take photos of their kids with Santa at the gazebo. Additional entertainment includes a holiday home tour through select homes in Temple’s Historical District; complimentary shuttle service to and from the Historical District (available at the Czech Museum, 119 W. French St.), and horse-drawn carriage rides will be available, departing from the Depot. Live Christmas music will be played throughout the downtown area, Santa Fe Depot, and at select local merchants. Vendors will set up along the downtown square, 2 N. Main St., and the Community Market, 212 S. Main St. The winner of the 2016 Shop Local Campaign will be announced at the end of Santa Fest. Maps and a schedule of events are available at the Santa Fe Depot, online at discovertemple.com or at the Santa Fest booth the day of the event. Admission to the market is free. For more information, call 254-298-5900. Tree Lighting Ceremony and Christmas Parade Dec. 5, 6:15 p.m.; parade 6:30 p.m. This year’s theme is “It’s Christmas! A Time for peace, love and joy! One of the largest lighted Christmas

Children ride on the Extreme Cheer parade float during the annual Temple Christmas Parade through downtown.

parades in Texas, there will be dozens of colorful floats, marching bands and decorated rides that will make their way through downtown Temple, each covered with hundreds of lights. The tree lighting ceremony is right before the parade and begins at City Hall at 6:15 p.m. The parade route begins on Adams Avenue near West Eighth Street and travels to 23rd Street. Stay for the last float when the Temple Fire Department brings Santa Claus at the end of the parade. “The Christmas Parade is one of those unique events where the entire community comes out, year after year, to celebrate the season and get into the holiday spirit,” said Holly Leiferman, special events coordinator for Temple Parks & Recreation Department. “We hope you will join us for this magical holiday event.” For more information, call Jonathan

Logue at 254-298-5586, or visit www. ci.temple.tx.us/calendar.aspx.

SALADO Salado Christmas Stroll Enjoy shopping, dining and entertainment in downtown Salado. Dec. 1, 5 p.m. Christmas parade Dec. 2-4 & 9-11, Christmas Stroll Historical Society Tour of Homes Dec. 2, 5-8 p.m. Dec. 3, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 4, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Live Nativity Dec. 2-3 and 9-10 Children of all ages will enjoy the live Nativity scene, sponsored by the First Baptist Church, holiday carolers, shopping and live entertainment. For more information, call 254-9478634 or email ylane@saladotx.gov.

TEXAPPEALMAG.COM

35


36

DECEMBER 2016 | TEX APPEAL

From left, Michaela Powers, Randall Marks, Aaron Marks, Jeanne Marie Marks and Aidan Wright.


A Christmas classic

Texas Metropolitan Ballet to present ‘The Nutcracker’ Story by CATHERINE HOSMAN Photos by MITCHEL BARRETT and JULIE NABOURS

I

magine you are a child again in a land of winter where large, soft, oneof-a-kind snowflakes are falling from the sky, blanketing the earth. It’s Christmas Eve and your family is having a grand celebration. A kind godfather brings you a handmade toy — a life-size nutcracker; but it causes your brother to become jealous, thinking your gift is grander than his. A sibling rivalry unfolds and the nutcracker is broken, but quickly repaired by the kind godfather and placed under your Christmas tree. Once the guests leave you go to check on your gift. Exhausted from the excitement of the evening, you fall asleep under the tree, hugging the nutcracker. This month, adults and children alike will be transported back to that wintry night when young Clara Stahlbaum falls asleep under her family’s Christmas tree, holding her life-size nutcracker handmade for her by her godfather Drosselmeyer, a skilled clock and toy maker, ad nearly destroyed by her brother Fritz. As she drifts off to sleep, strange things begin to happen and her family’s spacious living room is transported to a magical place where the nutcracker becomes a prince, toys come alive and Clara is transformed into the Sugar Plum Fairy. “This is our first time producing The Nutcracker,” said Randall Marks, owner and classical ballet teacher at the Texas Metropolitan Ballet in Killeen (www. texasmetropolitanballet.com) that opened this past July. “It’s a lot of work the first time.” Costumes have to be made, and made right, scheduling of dancers needs to be coordinated, “small kids have two parts, you can’t schedule them at the Continued

The Nutcracker comes to life as a prince in Clara’s dream. TEXAPPEALMAG.COM

37


same time,” Marks said. And there are rehearsals several hours a week. Also, there are props to be found, flexible floors to transport, advertising, ticket sales, rehearsals, the list of details goes on and on. But one thing is for sure, Marks, a professional ballet dancer for more than 30 years and former principal dancer for the Austin Ballet is a perfectionist when it comes to classical dance. He has danced for the New York Ballet, Metropolitan Opera and the Dennis Wayne Dancers. He danced at the Pennsylvania Ballet, Connecticut Ballet and with jazz and dance companies, operas, in casinos and musicals. He has toured all over the world, visiting 38

DECEMBER 2016 | TEX APPEAL

“The kids become a part of the family, too. We get very close. You see them grow up, see them do the lead in The Nutcracker — it’s wonderful.”

— Randall Marks

60 countries, but one of his favorite experiences was the three years he and wife Jeanne Marie spent dancing on sixstar cruise ships from 1996 to 1999. “We danced classical ballet, opera, Swan Lake, pad de deux and went all over the world,” he said. During their days off, the couple was able to tour the many ports of call where the ship docked,

including Egypt and Turkey. But all that changed after Sept. 11, 2001, when much of the world came to a stand still and travel came to a near total halt. “We came back to Austin and started teaching at different dance studios,” Marks said. “Teaching and performing are similar. You dance choreography, you teach choreography. It’s something that


ABOVE: Jeanne Marie Marks helps Michaela Powers with her epaulement. AT LEFT: Randall Marks, owner and teacher at Texas Metropolitan Ballet, takes his students through a rehearsal for “The Nutcracker.”

I have to do or I would just fade away. I couldn’t do anything else. It’s (teaching) the same wonderful feeling of performing a piece, style — seeing your work come to life is great.” The school welcomes all seriousminded and dedicated students of ballet, with a focus on home-schooled children. Their son, Aaron, 11, who plays Fritz, Clara’s brother in the Nutcracker, is home-schooled. “In Austin, there were a lot of kids home-schooled,” said Marks, who was teaching at an Austin Ballet school before moving to Killeen. During the day, home-schooled kids train from 1 to 2:30 p.m., go back home

to continue school, then return to the studio at night from 4:15 to 8:30 p.m. “The kids become a part of the family, too,” he said. “We get very close.” Marks said students can be with a school from two to 10 years. “You see them grow up, see them do the lead in ‘The Nutcracker’ — it’s wonderful.”

Musically inclined Marks grew up in Philadelphia in a musical family with his three siblings. His dad was an attorney who played the violin, and his stay-at-home-mom played piano. In school, he was athletic, a diver. But when he saw Mikhail Baryshnikov dance across the screen in the 1977

movie, “The Turning Point,” he knew what he wanted to do. “My sister said I should go to Broadway; get a musical start to ballet. But I said, ‘No way. My friends would disown me.’” But his destiny was clear and eventually he began to study ballet. “It takes so much discipline, classical ballet, but I love that part of it,” he said. He started getting jobs in ballet and at one point, he auditioned for Baryshnikov. “The tricks, the technique, the musicality and his stage presence,” he said. “I don’t know if anyone will match him.” Continued TEXAPPEALMAG.COM

39


Randall Marks and his dancers watch their mirror image for form.

A Christmas tradition When the curtain opens up on The Nutcracker on Dec. 3 and 4 at the Temple Cultural Activities Center, and on Dec. 16, 17 and 18 at the Killeen Arts & Activities Center, Marks will see his work come to life, and he said he is keeping it classical. Marks teaches the Bournonville Method, of the Danish Royal Ballet, and the Vaganova Russian Method. “The Nutcracker was originally choreographed in the late 1800s in St. Petersburg, Russia, but it didn’t come off well,” Marks said. The Nutcracker Ballet evolved from a story written by German author E.T.A. Hoffman in 1816. It was later rewritten by French writer Alexandre Dumas. The Ballet was based on his version, choreographed by Marius Petipa with music by Tchaikovsky. It wasn’t until its U.S. premiere in 1944 at the San Francisco Ballet did The Nutcracker begin to gain momentum. (simple.wikipedia. org/wiki/The_Nutcracker) “That production was directed by William Christensen,” Marks said. However, by changing a few characters, the late choreographer George Balanchine, co-founder of the New York City Ballet and its artistic director for more than 35 years, the ballet gained popularity with future productions, especially in the United States, according to dance.about.com. “Now it’s become a family tradition. It’s done so often,” Marks said. “We’re keeping it traditional, close to what the original story was.” 40

DECEMBER 2016 | TEX APPEAL

Aidan Wright, left, and Michaela Powers both play the Sugar Plum Fairy in the Texas Metropolitan Ballet production of “The Nutcracker.”


SUPPOR T ING T E X AS-SIZED DRE A MS FOR 100 Y E A RS

-PPLJOHUPCVZZPVSQJFDFPG5FYBT -PPLOPGVSUIFS UIBO-POF4UBS"H$SFEJUGPSZPVSGJOBODJOHOFFETGPS SFDSFBUJPOBMQSPQFSUZ SVSBMIPNFT GBSNT BOESBODIFT -POF4UBS"H$SFEJUIBTCFFOIFMQJOH$FOUSBM5FYBOT GJOBODFUIFJSESFBNTGPSZFBST DBMMUIFMBOEFYQFSUT BU-POF4UBS"H$SFEJUUPEBZ

Financing your piece of Texas

Temple Credit Office 2552 Blue Meadow Drive Temple, Texas 76502

LoneStarAgCredit.com

254.778.8111

LoneStar Temple- NancyStaudt 3.75x4.875 color.indd 1

4/26/2016 4:28:58 PM

TEXAPPEALMAG.COM

41


Counterclockwise from left, Teresa Burtchell, Melissa Rios, Janay Garcia and Lauren Ah Sang with their finished lumpia.

42

DECEMBER 2016 | TEX APPEAL


A Polynesian holiday

Community members sharing food, dance and culture Story by CATHERINE HOSMAN Photos by MITCHEL BARRETT and GABE WOLF

I

n the kitchen of Lauren Ah Sang’s home in Killeen, members of her extended family are busy making lumpia, a type of Filipino egg roll that is a coveted delicacy during the holidays or any other celebratory time of the year. “We make it for every occasion including events, weddings, Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Year’s Eve, grandfather’s birthday — if we can find a reason, we will make it,” said her cousin Melissa Rios. Ah Sang’s recipe has been handed down through the family for generations. “Mom and Dad brought it over from the Philippines,” said her mom, Teresa Burtchell. “No one makes it the way we do,” added Ah Sang. Her kitchen table is covered with plates holding the different ingredients that go into making lumpia. The women work days ahead to prepare the handmade rolls that are then deep fried to a tender crispiness. Like most families, the cooks barely get the rolls out of the fryer and onto the paper-towel-covered plate when someone sneaks up behind and grabs one, still hot from the fryer “Lumpia is a holiday favorite,” said Ah Sang. “Everyone is excited to make lumpia.” Making a Filipino delicacy is just one of the many activities that bring this group together. Ah Sang is the founder of Sivi Ori Polynesia, a dance group that brings together men, women and children of different ethnicities to learn, perform and share the culture of Polynesia through dance. It started with 12 members and has grown to 40, with nine actual dancers. “It’s very important to me that the children can participate and learn cultural traditions, discipline and grace from learning different cultural dances,”

Lumpia is a mixture of shredded pork, cabbage and cole slaw, wrapped in rice sheets and fried. Uncooked, it can be stored and frozen for later use.

“We make (lumpia) for every occasion including events, weddings, Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Year’s Eve, grandfather’s birthday — if we can find a reason, we will make it.”

— Melissa Rios

said Ah Sang, who is the mother of five daughters ranging in age from 2 to 15 years old. Ah Sang said her husband, Sunny, who is Samoan, introduced her to Polynesian dancing when they were both students at Ellison High School. They

were dating at the time and Ah Sang said “she fell in love with the culture.” Last year, Ah Sang decided to share her cultural dances and founded Siva Ori Polynesia, a dance group that performs Samoan, Hawaiian and Tahitian dances. Continued TEXAPPEALMAG.COM

43


Members of the Siva Ori Polynesia dance group include grandmothers, mothers, daughters, cousins and friends who become a part of the extended family. Lauren Ah Sang, fifth from left, is the founder of the group.

Lauren Ah Sang, organizer of the Siva Ori Polynesia dance group, performs at the Killeen Amphitheater on Sept. 10. 44

DECEMBER 2016 | TEX APPEAL

Ah Sang said Samoa is the land of the happy people. “It’s very small, but they have the most beautiful voices,” she said. “Dances are very graceful. A lot of other islands use the whole body. With Samoan dances you use the right foot only and your hands move.” Men do a step dance called “Siva Tau,” a war chant. Traditionally, Samoan fire dancers have been men, but Ah Sang said times are changing with children and women learning the dance. Hawaiian dances are more connected to the earth, she said. “You keep both feet connected to the ground and use the whole body to tell stories. There is emphasis on the hands, and chants in Mele (a Hawaiian language) tells of ancient times. They also use a lot of dance props,” she said. To become a true Hawaiian dancer, one must train with a Kumuhula master. “A Hawaiian lady who teaches dance,” Ah Sang explained. “Only one student out of 100 will be picked as a new Kumuhula.” A Kumuhula must know about


Lagi Ah Sang performs the Siva Afi, or fire dance, using fire knifes at the Killeen Amphitheater.

“It’s very important to me that the children can participate and learn cultural traditions, discipline and grace from learning different cultural dances.”

— Lauren Ah Sang

plants, what each plant is because there is a deity in the plant, Ah Sang said. “When

she makes a costume, she dyes the fabric using natural pigment.” Tahitian dancing is more exciting, Ah Sang explained. She said it is mostly hip and hand movement with a focus on the hips, and drumming. “It’s not hula,” she said. Siva Ori Polynesia travels around the state performing dances and sharing their culture. Burtchell said other dance troupes have embraced them. “They are impressed with what we accomplished,” Rios added. This past September, Sivi Ori Polynesia held its first So Poly Fest that drew more than 2,500 people to the Killeen Amphitheater. “We accomplished things we didn’t think we would accomplish,” Rios said. Continued TEXAPPEALMAG.COM

45


Tiani Ah Sang performs with the Siva Ori Polynesia dance during the So Poly Fest on Sept. 10 at the Killeen Amphitheater.

Siva Ori Polynesia dancers Kim Lelei, left, and Hana Ropati use a smartphone as a mirror before performing. 46

DECEMBER 2016 | TEX APPEAL

“The Poly Fest was huge. We had no idea we can do that, be able to do this.” This multicultural group welcomes all who are interested in learning the dances of the islands. They embrace family and welcome all who step over their threshold as a member of their extended family. Army wife Janay Garcia said she had only been in the area for two weeks when she brought her daughter to So Poly to learn how to dance and get to know others. “At first I did it for my daughter. She wanted to join. But they got me, too,” Garcia said. Being family oriented is a huge draw to the members of Siva Ori Polynesia. Burtchell said it’s the love of family that attracts other people to their join their group. “They want to be part of a family,” Burtchell said. “Men, women, cousins, learn the culture, what’s important to family, stay together and play together.”


TEXAS-SIZE SAVINGS Don Murphy

Gary Schmiedekamp

Jessie George

Davis Ford

LUTCF Agency Manager

LUTCF Agent

Agent

Agent

1341 Marlandwood Rd. Temple, TX 76502 254.778.4741

4200 E. Stan Schlueter Loop Killeen, TX 76542 254.690.7111 Gary M. Lynd

LaDeena Boyd

Decius Tasby

Art Williams, II

Agent

Agent

Agent, Killeen

Agent, Killeen

Steve Giniewicz

Mandi Wilson

Zack Dragoo

Agent

Agent

Agent BEL1016

TEXAPPEALMAG.COM

47


Holiday Gift Guide Just in time for the biggest shopping weekend of the year! Take the stress out of finding the perfect gift and visit these local business for great ideas.

GIFT GUIDE PAGE 1

48

DECEMBER 2016 | TEX APPEAL


Movies in Grand Style Gift Certificates Available

Grand Avenue Theater

2809 Oakmark, Belton 254-939-5050 grandavenuetheater.com

GIFT GUIDE PAGE 2

Temple Wildcats Fan Headquarters

Unique women’s clothing

Looking for something special for the fan at your house? Come by and visit Sports World we have sports shirts, fleece, scarfs, beanies, caps, and much more.

Mention this advertisment and enjoy 10% off of your purchase through December 24, 2016!

Sports World

120 A S. Main St., Temple 254-778-2641 sportsworldtemple.com

Susan Marie’s

201 N. Main St., Salado 254-947-5239 TEXAPPEALMAG.COM

49


50

DECEMBER 2016 | TEX APPEAL


+FXFMSZt#FBET 'JOEJOHT

Beads, stones, components, and everything in between. Handmade jewelry by Texas artists. Fashion Jewery | Rings | Watches Tues - Sat 10-5 | Closed Sun - Mon

SophistiKatz Bead Emporium

600 N Main Street, Salado 254-947-0883

TEXAPPEALMAG.COM

51


52

DECEMBER 2016 | TEX APPEAL


®

of Central Texas

TEXAPPEALMAG.COM

53


From left, Brianna Helmer, Karen Berg and Jen Sutton, director of children’s ministries at Hope House, wrap presents for Christmas for Kids at the Hope House.

54

DECEMBER 2016 | TEX APPEAL


TexVolunteers

Christmas for Kids

Hope for the Hungry makes sure children get gifts Story by CATHERINE HOSMAN Contributed photos

O

n Christmas morning, children from families living in and around the Belton Housing Authority will wake up to gifts donated to the Hope for the Hungry Christmas for Kids Ministry. “Christmas for Kids is one of our benevolence ministries for the parents of the kids that are in the program,” said Jen Sutton, director of children’s ministries at the Hope for the Hungry outreach program at the BHA. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, the Hope House offers an afterschool program for children from the community. “We have 50 different kids on our weekly roster at the Hope House,” Sutton said. “We welcome anybody and everybody within the proximity of the Belton Housing Authority complex.” The majority of the families served are from BHA, or from along the streets that surround the neighborhood. Kids get to munch on snacks, do arts and crafts, play games and listen to Bible stories told by the volunteers. Thursdays are class days where kids might learn how to cook, act, or create an art project. “Today we are making bird houses,” Sutton said. “It’s kind of whatever we can do and whatever volunteers from the community we can get to help out in their field of service.” Sutton was first introduced to Hope for the Hungry when she was a student at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. “Most of the volunteers at Hope for the Hungry were UMHB students,” she said. “I fell in love with the ministry and volunteered all four years while at UMHB.” Sutton has been a staff member at Hope for the Hungry since 2007. Prior to joining the organization as an employee,

Rows and rows of Christmas gifts wait to be wrapped by parents of children living in the Belton Housing Authority and who participate in the Hope House after school program.

and following her graduation from UMHB, she worked as a cancer researcher at Texas A&M Medical School in Temple, all the while still an active volunteer at Hope for the Hungry. When a position at Hope came open, Sutton didn’t hesitate. Before assuming her present position as director of children’s ministries, Sutton worked with local programs and the center’s Haiti ministries.

A new Christmas tradition The idea of Christmas for Kids was

born in 2009 when one of Sutton’s BHA families asked her if they offered any kind of service for Christmas. “It was a family of six, relatively small, but doable,” Sutton said. “I remember going to their house and bringing gifts for them to wrap while the kids were in school.” From that one family, the ministry has grown to serve more than 100 families from two specific housing districts in Belton. More importantly, Jeff Pedigo, Continued TEXAPPEALMAG.COM

55


Back row, from left, Kelli Mann, Abby Magdaleno, Beth Ann Earley, Rebecca Maul, Lindsey Wash, Emily Maulding, Jen Sutton and her son. Front row, from left, Jayti Wilson, Sara Billingsley, Rachael Wood and Addie Craighead.

director of public relations, said it has grown in the sense that “it has grown in the relationships.” “It has allowed the relationships of the families and interns to grow,” he said, referring to the UMHB interns who work with the children. Fifty to 75 volunteers and sponsors are needed each year to provide Christmas gifts for the families. “We find sponsors from the community and give them the child’s, or children’s, clothing size(s) and toys they are interested in,” Sutton said. “One sponsor can choose a family with one kid or six kids.” Often, Sutton said, groups get together to sponsor a larger family. Sponsors are given guidelines on how the buy and package the gifts, making sure that all gifts are equal in value. 56

DECEMBER 2016 | TEX APPEAL

Once the items have been collected, parents are invited to come to Hope House to pick up the unwrapped presents where volunteers offer camaraderie and fellowship while they help the families wrap their gifts. “When it first started, all gifts were taken to homes,” Pedigo said. “Now, with Hope House, gifts are taken there and families come to get the gifts.” “Wrapping gifts is one of my most favorite things to do in the world,” Sutton added. “To give gifts, wrap gifts — it’s a great way to connect with other parents and share the love of Christ, organically, as you talk about the holiday season and the true meaning of Christmas.” One week each December, volunteer moms come in to help the Belton Housing Authority families wrap presents. “That dynamic changed the program a

lot,” Pedigo said. “Other organizations are not necessarily doing that one-on-one, sit-down-and-visit, join-hand-in-hand type of ministry. This isn’t normal, but very effective.” Gifts sponsors are required to purchase for a child include one toy valued at $25, and a Christian item such as a Bible, story book, DVD or coloring book and a clothing item. For families not in the BHA, the Hope House opens a family store and invites those families to come and choose Christmas gifts for their children. Pedigo said since the Christmas store began three years ago it has changed from serving the traditional sponsored family and folks who were late in signing up for the program to include the new folks in the area and any families living in the BHA complex.


Brianna Helmer helps wrap Christmas presents for Belton Housing Authority children at Hope House.

“Not only do we need to find a community sponsor for a child, but also we are trying to fill up the store for families to come,” Sutton said. “This is another way for people to be involved as sponsors and gives us the ability to reach more people in the area, more than the families of the kids in the program.” Sara Billingsley, a senior at UMHB, has been an intern at the Hope House for three years. She said Christmas for Kids is one of her favorite ministries because, “we have to get involved with the parents.” “We see the kids all the time, but for the kids, we build trusting relationships with parents, one at a time,” Billingsley said.

She recalled a family that the Hope House had helped through the years. “They said if they could ever give back, they would,” Billingsley said. As it turned out, their church had raised donations to help that family who turned around and used that money to purchase gifts for other families at Hope House. “I love to see their hearts. They (families) need a little help and it’s special to see their hearts at Christmastime,” Billingsley said. College kids do a “fantastic job of bonding with the kids,” Pedigo added. “When a third-grader sees his intern come in, his eyes light up.” TEXAPPEALMAG.COM

57


Pruning and shaping trees is a year-round chore. Marc Nash uses a weed eater with a special cutting attachment to reach the tops of trees.

58

DECEMBER 2016 | TEX APPEAL


TexAdventures

A family tradition

Finding the perfect Christmas tree at Elgin farm Story by FRED AFFLERBACH Photos by FRED AFFLERBACH and contributed by JANET NAMKEN

B

ack in 1984, folks around Elgin thought newcomer Bill Walton must have lost his mind. He planted a crop that everyone knows doesn’t grow in Central Texas — Christmas trees. Hundreds and hundreds of them, none higher than a foot tall. “I think I’m a little bit crazy,” Walton, now 77, said with a big laugh. “There’s a guy who’s got a road named after him, Roy Davis. He would go in and have coffee with all the old timers in town. And he didn’t tell us this until about the second year we started selling trees, but he came out one day and said, ‘I am so glad to see y’all are doing good. You were the laughing stock of town. Planting Christmas trees in Central Texas?’” More than 30 Christmas seasons later, the Elgin Christmas Tree Farm sells about 5,000 Virginia pines annually. Oftentimes, two or three generations of families make the annual pilgrimage to the 96-acre woodland. Hop aboard the hayride and bounce into the fields of thousands of evergreens. Select a special tree that will brighten your living room or den and cut it by hand with a bow saw provided by staff. Workers will then haul your tree to a shaking and wrapping station. (They shake the trees to throw off dead needles or perhaps an abandoned bird nest.) Finally, workers wrap your tree in netting and help you load it on your car roof or in the bed of your pickup. “When you see these families coming out, it’s a time when they all get together. You’ve got the families that won’t come until their kids get back from college. It’s just a neat experience to watch them,” said Marc Nash, the man who married Walton’s daughter, Twyla. In 2002, the

Most of the gifts at the Christmas Cottage cost less than $5.

Nash couple bought the farm from Bill and his wife, Kaye Walton, and continued the family tradition of selling live Christmas trees.

“Most of our business is repeat customers,” Nash said. “When I’m out there trimming the trees, and it’s 100 Continued TEXAPPEALMAG.COM

59


Marc and Twyla Nash hang out at the farm with their 1949 Chevrolet pickup. They bought the farm from Twyla’s parents, Bill and Kaye Walton, in 2004.

If you go Elgin Christmas Tree Farm is a few miles east of Elgin just off U.S. Highway 290. Coming from Elgin, turn left on Roy Davis Road, then left on Old McDade Road and look for the bright red sign. Call 512-281-5016 or go to www. elginchristmastreefarm.com. It’s open 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from noon to 5:30 p.m. Sunday. Tree prices range from $28 to $134. Throughout the year, the farm hosts various group events and is available for private gatherings and photo shoots. About 12,000 elementary students from area schools take field trips to the farm annually. The Pumpkin Festival draws large crowds during October weekends. Bluegrass music for the adults and pumpkin decorating for children are the highlights. More information is available online. 60

DECEMBER 2016 | TEX APPEAL


degrees and it’s miserable, I sometimes think of those families and I just think, that’s what makes it worthwhile.” When Twyla and Marc Nash took over farm operations, they added the Christmas Cottage, a wood frame house in which you can buy handmade wreaths, ornaments, crosses and other decorations. About 10 years ago, the Nashes found the 1930s-era building for sale on Craigslist. They bought it and paid a house mover to haul it from the Travis Heights subdivision in South Austin to Elgin. Janet Namken, the Christmas Cottage shop manager, remembers the day the house arrived at the tree farm. Namken lives in Bastrop, and while taking her son to work she saw a big yellow building on the side of Highway 95. “By the time I dropped him off, and by the time I picked my cousin up, who was also working up here, we couldn’t get through the gate. It was the yellow house coming through the gate,” Namken said. It took a year of remodeling and painting (green of course), but the next Christmas season found Namken managing the cottage covered wall to wall with Christmas decorations. Managing the popular Christmas Cottage rekindles Namken’s childhood memories from the 1970s. “It’s like a kid’s dream come true to us, because we used to play Christmas store when were kids and now we get to do it. People are happy. They’re bustling. We have lots of crosses. We have just about any kind of ornament. We have bling ornaments. We have dog and cat ornaments. We have elves and Santas and lots of crosses, lots of signs of faith.”

Renewable resource In an era when the terms sustainability, renewable resource and carbon footprint are implemented in many business plans, the Nashes point out the ecological benefits of purchasing and cutting a live tree as opposed to buying an artificial one. Trees absorb carbon dioxide, a chemical compound linked to global warming, and emit fresh, oxygenated air. Real trees are also recyclable. Most communities have stations where workers grind the trees into mulch used in parks and other locations. According to the U.S. Commerce Department, about 85 percent Continued

Customers of the Elgin Christmas Tree Farm use a bow saw to cut down a Christmas tree of their choice. TEXAPPEALMAG.COM

61


Bill Walton proved skeptics wrong when he successfully propagated Virginia pines such as these, beginning in the 1980s. A few, larger native pines called loblollies are also for sale at the farm outside Elgin.

of artificial trees are imported from China. And they are made from plastic, a petroleum-based product that does not decompose in landfills. “Everybody always thinks that fake trees are more environmentally friendly than real trees, but the predominant number are not recycled even if they could be, they’re just thrown away into the landfill,” Marc Nash said. “The real trees are 100 percent biodegradable. So you get a second life out of the trees. They provide lots of wildlife habitat. In the summertime, the birds will nest in there and have their babies.” Although the ubiquitous ashe junipers that thrive across Central Texas pollinate during December, causing runny noses, itchy eyes and headaches, Virginia pines are dormant in winter. And the other type tree grown at the farm, Leyland Cypress, is a sterile hybrid that doesn’t pollinate at all. “So when people think they may be allergic to that Christmas tree it may just be the pollen from the ashe juniper is starting up the same time they might put a Christmas tree in their house,” Nash said. To replace last year’s tree crop, the Nashes buy between 6,000 and 9,000 seedlings from an East Texas grower each winter. Planting takes several weeks during January and February. The Elgin trees typically live between three and five years before they are harvested. During any given year, about 50,000 trees are growing on the farm. Thousands of Virginia pines, some native loblolly pines, and a few hundred Leyland Cypress, all growing in long rows, is a usual sight in a region thick with cattle, corn and cotton. And the two-story family farmhouse 62

DECEMBER 2016 | TEX APPEAL

Elgin is known for its sausages and barbecue. Southside Market & Barbecue and Meyer’s Elgin Smokehouse are popular places to grab a bite to eat.

Break for Barbecue Elgin is known for mouth-watering barbecue, especially peppery sausage. Two noted barbecue restaurants, Southside Market and Meyer’s Elgin Smokehouse, have been smoking meat for a cumulative total of almost 200 years. Driving through Elgin on most weekends in late November and throughout December, you will see numerous cars with Christmas trees strapped to their roofs parked at these two noted eateries. Meyer’s or Southside? A difficult choice. Maybe like selecting the perfect Christmas tree. You really can’t go wrong. provides a picturesque backdrop to a Christmas card scene more likely to be found in Wisconsin than Central Texas.

Family faith Signs of the Nash family’s Christian faith are ever present at the farm. A sign pointing the way down a country lane to the farm quotes a passage from the New Testament. The Nashes held special Easter services, called the Halleluiah Hayride, with live actors for a couple of years. Throughout the seasons, the farm is open

to Christian youth events. Three wooden crosses stand high on a low hill. And during Christmas season, Church on the Farm is held at 11 a.m. three successive Sundays: Nov. 27, Dec. 4 and Dec. 11. The farm doesn’t open until services are complete. Trees are also sold at half price to churches. Over at the Christmas Cottage, Namken greets everyone the same way. “I love saying Merry Christmas. I could say Merry Christmas all day long. Not happy holidays, but Merry Christmas.”


TEXAPPEALMAG.COM

63


ADVERTISERS INDEX Advocare................................ 52

Lone Star Ag Credit................41

AFC Urgent Care.................... 5

Marvina’s Optical Boutique.. 50

Affordable Insurance............... 5

Metroplex Health System........ 3

Akasha’s Treasures................. 53

My Giving Tree.................51, 52

Atmos Energy........................... 7

My Therapy Cloud................. 63

Avon....................................... 52

Oh Snap Mirror Me Images.................. 52

Bell County Museum............... 7 Bell County Women’s Bar Association...................... 34

Paperdoodles.................... 49, 50

Callie’s Boutique............. 48, 50

Perfume Palace....................... 53

CCA Bartlett.......................... 63

Pizazz Gifts & Decor.............. 49

Central Texas College.............47 Central Texas Expo................ 63 Cochran Blair and Potts........ 49 Coryell Memorial Hospital.... 35 Crawford Bowers................... 65 Crotty Funeral Home.............10 Cultural Activities Center..... 64 Curtis Cook........................... 25 Darling Decor & More...........51 Davis, Dr. J. Phillip.................. 9 Day for Women..................... 15 Devereaux’s Jewelers...............57 Document Solutions.............. 22 Ellis Air Systems..................... 23 English Maids.................. 45, 49 Exchange on Central............. 48 Extraco Banks........... Back cover Fountain of Beauty................ 49 Giebel, Dr. Shelley..................47 Grand Avenue Theater.... 25, 49 Greater Central Texas Federal Credit Union..........................10

Pecans of Central Texas..........51

PopAbilities............................ 50 Purifoy & Company ............. 45 Ramirez Swimming Pools.......51 Rosebud Artisan Alley........... 48 Salado Olive Oil..................... 53 Sally’s Star Resale................... 50 Seton Medical Center.............67 Shoe Box................................ 48 Shoppes on Main................... 25 Smile at the World Ortho....... 7 So Natural.............................. 52 SophistiKatz............................51 Sports World.......................... 49 Susan B. Mitchell................... 65 Susan Marie’s Boutique......... 49 Temple Railroad and Heritage Museum........... 34 Texas Farm Bureau.................47 Texas Ranger Museum............57 The Contemporaries.............. 63 Total Retirement.................... 15

Gretchen Williams................. 50

Union State Bank...................41

Hallmark Service Company..... 5

United Way...................... 25, 53

Killeen Overhead Doors........ 64

Vivy La Rue’s......................... 52

Lastovica................................. 15

Whimsies Boutique................51

Liberty Scrubs.........................51

Wisener’s Auto Clinic............41

Lochridge Priest....................... 2

Zooty’s.................................... 48

The Advertisers Index is published for reader convenience. Every effort is made to list information correctly. The publisher is not responsible for errors or omissions. 64

DECEMBER 2016 | TEX APPEAL


Season’s Greetings

New year. New beginnings.

Are you planning to start, finish or accomplish something in 2017? Share your resolutions with Tex Appeal. Email editor@texappealmag.com by Dec. 5, and your goals may be included in the January issue. Please include your name, city and phone number in your email or message us on Facebook so we can contact you. TEXAPPEALMAG.COM

65


TexTherapy

May the spirit of Christmas bring you peace, The gladness of Christmas give you hope, The warmth of Christmas grant you love. Author unknown

66

DECEMBER 2016 | TEX APPEAL


Tidings of Financial Comfort & Joy

Whether online or in store, shop smart and safe this holiday season. Our EMV-enabled chip debit cards, Fraud Alerts and Mobile Banking apps; and Text Message Alerts are some of the ways Extraco Banks protects you and your money this holiday season. Mobile Banking

Text Message Alerts

Fraud Alerts

One Bank.

f

in

BLOG

Member FDIC.

To see how Extraco can help you, contact a Relationship Banker at 254.774.5500 or visit extracobanks.com.

Tex Appeal Magazine | December 2016  
Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you