Category Archives: Arts & Entertainment

Valley Ranch Library celebrates 50th anniversary of “The Outsiders”

The Valley Ranch Library hosted a 50s-style sockhop on Friday, Aug 4, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the influential young adult novel, “The Outsiders.”

Written by 16-year-old S.E. Hinton, the book was first published on April 24, 1967. It tells the story of Ponyboy Curtis and the conflict between two gangs in the 1960s in rural Oklahoma. Ponyboy and his brothers are the Greasers, a gang of low-income working class teens. Their rivals the Socs, or Socials, are wealthy teens from the other side of town. When one of the Socs is killed by a Greaser, Ponyboy’s life is changed forever as he learns death and pain can affect anyone, no matter what their background.

“It’s a story about social classes,” Annette Burford, youth librarian at the Valley Ranch Library, said. “It’s about bringing differences together. There’s no perfect lifestyle, there’s no perfect group of people, and I think the message S.E. Hinton wanted to get across is that everybody comes from a different walk of life, but everyone is basically the same. Everybody has problems, everybody has conflicts, everybody has the same emotions. It’s important for kids to understand that no matter what walk of life they come from, nothing should hinder them from doing what they want to do, regardless of their background.”

Although the book is 50 years old, Burford believes its message is just as relevant today.

“It’s really different [today] as far as teen angst and problems people go through,” Burford said. “But it‘s all part of life, and everybody goes through it.”

The book was considered highly controversial at the time of its publication. It was ranked #38 on the “American Library Association’s Top 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-1999” for its portrayal of gang violence, underage smoking and drinking, and strong language. Despite the controversy, The Outsiders was adapted into a film in 1983 directed by Francis Ford Coppola and also had a TV series adaptation in 1990.

Mindy Ewing, a volunteer with the Valley Ranch library, saw the film when she was a teenager.

“I saw the movie for the first time in the theater when it was showing,” Ewing said. “It’s one of those things that sticks with you. All teens have conflict, no matter what clique you’re in. You’re not always a Greaser, and there’s not always knife fights, but there’s always some kind of clique conflict between teens. I thought it was encapsulating of what we were feeling without us being able to express it.”

In addition to being directed by Coppola, the film also boasted a cast of up-and-coming stars, including Matt Dillon, Emilio Estevez, Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe, Ralph Macchio, Tom Cruise, and Diane Lane.

“Being that I saw [the movie] back then, I have grown up with all these actors,” Ewing said. “They’re very young, and it’s almost hard to realize that those people you’re seeing there are really famous actors now and that this was one of their first big breakout roles.”

The party was held as part of a tri-annual book party series held at Valley Ranch. The library held similar events this year for The Chronicles of Narnia in January and Alice in Wonderland in March.

“The parties are a great way to introduce classic books to a new audience, whether it is families who are new to the country or tweens and teens who haven’t yet encountered the book in school,” said Marianne Follis, the head librarian of Valley Ranch Library. “By creating a party, we give the books fun and memorable points of access which will hopefully stay with the attendees.”

Mark your calendar!

Back-to-School Nights
August 15-18

Each campus in the district will host a back-to-school event that will give families and students the opportunity to meet teachers, drop off school supplies and become familiar with the school. In addition, those who have not completed all steps of the registration process can do so at these events. The schedule is as follows:

Tuesday, August 15 – high schools, 5 to 7 p.m.

Wednesday, August 16 – middle schools, 5 to 7 p.m.

Thursday, August 17 – elementary schools, 5 to 7 p.m.

Friday, August 18 – early childhood schools, 2 to 4 p.m.

School Supply Drive
August 18, 6 – 7:30 p.m. 

First Baptist Church in Irving (403 S. Main Street) will be having a School Supply Drive to help provide students with the tools they need to succeed. Parents of Kindergarten – 5th grade students may pick up a free package of school supplies, while supplies last. 

One Act Play inspires youngsters to perform

The Irving Park’s Recreation Centers continued a time honored tradition by inviting friends and family members to attend the 53rd annual One Act Play Competition, which was presented at the MacArthur High School auditorium on Friday evening, July 21.

During the event, young actors and actresses from six recreations centers performed on stage in front of an audience while demonstrating their acting, singing, and dancing abilities. Students from the ages of seven to seventeen practiced twice a week during the summer and prepared plays encompassing a variety of genres, from fantasy to drama to Dr. Seuss.

Karlie Ulloa acted in “Daisy-Head Mayzie” produced by Lee Park Recreation Center.

“We practiced an hour and a half for twice a week,” Ulloa said. “There are also a lot of kids, so it’s really fun to interact with them. When you think about it, it’s like a big family with all of the cast and directors included.”

The five judges scored each performance on presentation, delivery of lines and clarity of story, correct speed and length, and originality.

The 2017 One Act Play Competition winners are as follows:

Best Play – Snow White Lite by Northwest Park Recreation Center

Runner-Up Best Play – Bonding by Senter Park Recreation Center

Best Actor – Silas Whitworth from Senter Park Recreation Center, Play: Bonding

Runner-Up Best Actor – Vgom Jain from Mustang Park Recreation Center, Play:  When Two Superhero Universes Collide

Best Actress – Regina Lubbers-Reyes from Northwest Park Recreation Center, Play: Snow White Lite

Runner-Up Best Actress – Helja Estrado from Northwest Park Recreation Center, Play: Snow White Lite

Honorable Mentions:
Danielle Jackson from Georgia Farrow Recreation Center, Play: Guest in the Barracks

Angel Franco from Northwest Park Recreation Center, Play: Snow White Lite.

“Human Library” comes alive at West Irving Library

Library patrons had a unique opportunity to ‘borrow’ people during the “Human Library” presented at the West Irving Library on Saturday, July 22.

The Human Library project invited individuals to ‘check out’ real people from various ethnic, social, and marginalized communities, and ask them questions. The project has featured a wide variety of humans, from sexual abuse and traumas survivors to Muslims and transgendered individuals, all with the purpose of educating the community and helping to dispel harmful stereotypes surrounding those groups.

The event was held as part of the library’s city-wide Summer Reading Challenge and this year’s theme was “Build a Better World.”

“The Human Library was started in Denmark and it’s designed to build a positive framework for conversations that can challenge stereotypes and prejudice by talking to people who have dealt with them,” said Linda Opella, librarian at West Irving Library. “Everyone has a story to tell, and this is just a way for them to tell their story to other people and other people can say, ‘Oh, that’s really interesting. I never thought about it that way,’ or ‘I never looked at it that way.’ Hopefully, it can challenge stereotypes and prejudices and change minds.”

This was the first Human Library event held at the West Irving Library and featured three local individuals. Sylvia Nordeman, a communication specialist for the library, was one of the storytellers at the event. Nordeman suffered two miscarriages before giving birth to her son, all within a span of two years. She wanted to share her story to help people understand what it is really like to go through a miscarriage and how they can help those who have experienced it.

“When I had my miscarriage, I felt like there were so many things that people didn’t understand about it,” Nordeman said. “People were very reluctant to talk about it. People just wanted to sweep it under the rug. I thought it would be so much better if we could have an open conversation about it.”

Patrick Booth, a drug addiction counselor from Lewisville, Texas, walked away from his job in the corporate world to travel the world as a missionary. Booth has visited 11 different Latin American countries and has written a book about his adventures titled The Long Road Home.

“When I sold my business and went out into the mission field for a year visiting those 11 different countries, I was blogging. At the end of it, I just felt that this story was bigger than me,” Booth said. “I put it down into a book specifically so I could share it. I want to continue to share it because my story is really beyond me.”

Susan Sullivan, a web designer who currently lives in Argyle, Texas, walked away from the corporate world to start a farm where she raises chickens and bees. Through her story, Sullivan hopes people will gain more interest in learning where their food comes from.

“I like telling my story because I like to talk to people about the food they eat, where it comes from, teach people that you can eat food that’s ethical and sustainable, and that animals don’t really need to suffer,” she said.

Although the stories were different, all three participates learned others were just as happy to share their own stories.

“It was really nice to be able to hear not just their interest in my story, but also hear how it connects to their individual stories,” Booth said. “I really feel like everyone has a story that they can share, so it was nice to be able to hear their inspiration and be inspired by them as well as to share my story and let them be inspired by me.”

Set the Date!

Free Genealogy Classes
August 4 – 18, 12:30 p.m.
Free genealogy classes are available to the public provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints, who has created the largest collection of family records in the world. A three part course will be offered at The Summit Active Adult Center in Grand Prairie. Topics that will be covered include Genealogy for Beginners, Sources for Genealogical Information and Search Techniques for Genealogical Information. Instructors for the course are Elder and Sister Grieve, missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter‐day Saints. Classes will be Fridays at 12:30 pm. The class is free for all Summit members. Nonmembers may be charged a $5 entrance fee by The Summit. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints collection of family records includes more than 3 billion deceased people and has 5,003 family history centers in 138 countries.

Summer School Graduation
August 10, 7 p.m.
Summer school graduation for all high schools is Singley Academy.

August 12, 10:30am-4:30pm
The Las Colinas Symphony Orchestra will be holding auditions for the Lone Star Youth Orchestra’s 2017-2018 Season at the Irving Arts Center.

Based in Irving, the Lone Star Youth Orchestra is the only tuition-free youth orchestra in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The Lone Star Youth Orchestra is open to all middle and high school students residing in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. These talented youths are given the opportunity to supplement and enhance their music education by learning symphonic literature through high-quality orchestral and ensemble training with the very best in the field. Students have the opportunity to perform with the Garland Symphony Orchestra and the Las Colinas Symphony Orchestra through our side-by-side concerts, and students may also compete for scholarship opportunities and guest artist spots through our annual concerto competition.

Auditions are by appointment only. All audition information can be found at Students can expect to perform two scales, a solo of their choice, and 2-3 excerpts that have been preselected for their instrument.

PINSTACK in Las Colinas offers new vision of bowling


The new PINSTACK on West I-635 is not your grandpa’s Wednesday night bowling league.

In fact, it might as well be a scene from a TRON movie with changing color patterns on the walls and floor, a large arcade and laser tag arena, and loads of LED-lit hand holds on climbing walls from a company out of Norway.

“When you hear gaming or bowling, it’s not what you’re envisioning,” said Gene Muncy, the Las Colinas PINSTACK General Manager. “If you’ve never been in, you wouldn’t imagine what you’re going to experience until you walk in the front door. I think the finish and the experience of the facility really tells that story.”

Alongside 28 bowling lanes, Las Colinas’ new 53,000 square-foot entertainment venue features a two-level laser tag arena, rock climbing walls, high-ropes course, a large arcade, and a full-service bar with beer and wine on draft. 

“Draft wine is starting to catch on and becoming more popular here,” Muncy said. “So we’ve increased it. We had six [drafts] in Plano, and we now have twelve in addition to all of our regular wines sold by the glass and bottle.”

Customers can even head outside during the hot summer, as a 2,000 square-foot, temperature controlled covered patio offers games including bocce ball and giant games in chess, connect four, and jenga.

Most of these areas are available for private parties and corporate events.

“We have meeting rooms that face the lanes,” Munch said. “We do full service banquet catering like you would find at any nice hotel property. We do a lot of corporate meetings where [corporations] have training. They’ve got a product launch or team building, and they’ll do food and beverage in their room and then come out and have lanes reserved for them and have their own private area to have an event.”

There are also features in games that are tailored for outings with a boss and work colleagues. One style of play in laser tag is called “lone wolf” and allows everyone to go after one player, which Muncy said is typically used to go after the boss.

Entertainment Properties Group, Inc. operates the new venue. Based in Dallas, they run three entertainment venues in Texas under the iT’ ‘Z Family, Food & Fun brand. PINSTACK is their latest location and first opened in Plano in 2015. Las Colinas marks their second location, and they plan to open their third PINSTACK in Allen in fall of 2017.

As part of their launch, PINSTACK in Las Colinas honored The Salvation Army of Irving and Irving Cares with a donation at a special VIP event attended by community leaders and PINSTACK executives.

“We look forward to being a good community partner,” said Mark Moore, president and CEO of Entertainment Properties Group, Inc. “We are confident the Las Colinas community and surrounding areas will enjoy PINSTACK’s many entertainment amenities, dining options, and more.”

The location has some differences than Plano’s, including a larger laser tag area. The Las Colinas venue used a subtle design change to add 700 square-feet to their laser tag arena without adding square footage to the building.

But the real draw is bowling.

A regular lane, which fits eight people comfortably, costs $18 during the weekdays for one hour and $22 for a VIP experience. Those prices rise to $34 and $45 during the weekends and shoe rental costs $4.

LED-lights on the sides and walls is coupled with advanced technology, including programmed bumpers for each bowler. This new type of bowling, Muncy believes, will be popular among young people.

“You don’t have to be a superstar bowler to have fun bowling,” he said. “Particularly millennials these days want to do fun activities together in a social environment but don’t want to be eliminating or isolating people who may not be experts. Bowling’s a great way to do that.”

Mark your calendar!

Blood Donation
July 30, 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Thousands of people have responded to the emergency call for blood donations issued by the American Red Cross in early July, but there continues to be a critical summer blood shortage. Eligible donors of all types are urgently needed.

After issuing the emergency call, the Red Cross has experienced a 30 percent increase in blood donation appointments through mid-July. Despite this improvement, blood products are still being distributed to hospitals as fast as donations are coming in, so more donations are needed to meet patient needs and replenish the blood supply.

A blood donation drive will be held at Holy Family of Nazareth Catholic Parish, 2323 Cheyenne Street, Irving.

Free Genealogy Classes
August 4 – 18, 12:30 p.m. 

Free genealogy classes are available to the public provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints, who has created the largest collection of family records in the world. A three part course will be offered at The Summit Active Adult Center in Grand Prairie.

Topics that will be covered include Genealogy for Beginners, Sources for Genealogical Information and Search Techniques for Genealogical Information. Instructors for the course are Elder and Sister Grieve, missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter‐day Saints.

Classes will be Fridays at 12:30 pm. The class is free for all Summit members. Nonmembers may be charged a $5 entrance fee by The Summit.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints collection of family records includes more than 3 billion deceased people and has 5,003 family history centers in 138 countries.



Kona Ice now serving Irving

Bringing tropical tunes and cups of shaved ice everywhere it stops, Kona Ice is introducing Irving to its distinctive blend of entertainment and gourmet frozen treats.

“The communities’ first taste of our cool treats and colorful truck will keep them coming back for more,” said Cynthia Sanchez, the local resident and entrepreneur who has teamed up with her family to launch her new food truck franchise in Irving. “It will only be a matter of time before our Kona truck captures the hearts, minds and taste buds of the neighborhoods we serve.”

Kona Ice offers ten tastes on the truck’s Flavorwave, an interactive dispensing system in which individuals select from one or more of the flavors to pour over their fluffy snow, or the additional 20-plus flavors and 500 different combinations available.

“It’s an opportunity to enjoy a unique, tropical treat,” Sanchez said. “For a couple of dollars you can experience the excitement of the truck, flavor your own Kona Ice, donate to an organization you care about, and kick back for a few minutes enjoying the sounds of the tropics. It’s an escape that everyone can enjoy.”

Equally as appealing about the launch of Kona Ice of Central Irving is its philanthropic commitment. Sanchez is continuing the mobile franchise’s tradition of donating money each year to local school groups, teams and community organizations, and gives back a percentage of the proceeds from each stop. Nationwide, Kona Ice has donated more than $40 million to community-based organizations since its launch in June 2007.

“Cynthia shares our commitment to giving back,” said Tony Lamb, founder and president of Florence, Ky.-based Kona Ice. “She wants to have a positive influence on the people in their community, whether it’s new text books, sports uniforms or, simply, a smile. We are proud to have her on-board. Together, we are excited to make a difference in the lives of those around us.”

Beyond fundraisers, popular spots for the food truck franchise include fairs, festivals, corporate events, neighborhood socials, church events and birthday parties. Sanchez’s truck also maintains regular weekday and weekend routes.

To learn more about Kona Ice of Central Irving and to book your next event, contact Cynthia Sanchez at or (682) 222-6447.

Mark your calendar!

Celebrate Coppell – Party In The Park
July 1, 2  – 10 p.m.

Coppell’s annual Independence Day celebration returns to Andrew Brown Park East, 260 E. Parkway Blvd. Park bigger and better than ever.

5k for Coppell Special Olympics
July 1

The Get You In Shape Coppell 5K benefiting Coppell Special Olympics is a community event with a 1-mile fun run and a timed 5K Race on July 1st and is a part of Celebrate Coppell. This will be the first 5k in the newly updated Coppell Parks. For more information and to register for this family-friendly, community event visit:

Irving Heritage House
July 2, 3-5 p.m.

Recognizing the 75th anniversary of the Little Golden Books, a special exhibit of vintage books from the collection of Heritage Society member Karen Jackson will be on display at the Irving Heritage House. The Heritage House is located at 303 South O’Connor and monthly tours now include Mary’s Playhouse in the garden area as well. Admission is free. Guest will receive a complimentary copy of the history book Irving, Texas: From Rails to Wings by Norma Stanton.

Little Golden Books were created in 1942 for children. Some of the first books included Three Little Kittens, Bedtime Stories, Prayers for Children, The Little Red Hen and the all-time favorite and the top seller The Poky Little Puppy. The books have been colorfully illustrated with distinct styles from such artists as Richard Scarry, Eloise Wilkin, and Garth Williams. The books sold for 25 cents and you were even allowed to write your name in them.

School Supply Drive
July 2-August 6

Help Irving ISD students start the school year off right by donating school supplies. All Irving Fire Stations are collecting school supplies July 2 through August 6. Supplies needed include:

Composition books
Crayons (24 count)
Rulers (standard and metric)
2-inch binders with dividers
Plastic folders with brads and pockets
No. 2 pencils
Small scissors
Spiral notebooks
Washable markers (8 count)
Erasers (large, bevel)
Glue sticks
Notebook paper (wide and college ruled)
Colored pencils (12 count)
Pencil box or pouch
Financial donations are also being accepted. Contact 972-600-5018 for more information.

Irving’s Star-Spangled Parade
July 4, 9 a.m.

The parade begins at 9 a.m. July 4 at Sowers Street and Irving Boulevard, near Millennium Park, and concludes about 10 a.m. After the parade, a reception at Heritage Park, 217 S. Main St., will include free watermelon, airbrush tattoos, balloons and a concert by Leo Hull and the Texas Blues Machine.

Celebrate Coppell – Parade Down Parkway
July 4, 9 a.m.

Parade Route – Samuel To Parkway Blvd., West On Parway To Town Center

Celebrate Independence Day with a patriotic parade! Put on your red, white and blue and head over to the parade route early for the best spot.

Irving’s party and fireworks
July 4, 6 p.m.

The celebration continues along Lake Carolyn, 601 E. Las Colinas Blvd. Entertainment includes live music by Downtown Fever, DJ Chris Brown and the Las Colinas Symphony Orchestra’s Brass Quintet. The 20-minute fireworks display begins at 9:30 p.m. More than 20 food vendors will offer hot and cold treats.

Other activities include airbrush tattoos, photos with Uncle Sam and both wet and dry inflatable rides. Swim attire is not required; towels are recommended. Attendees are encouraged to bring blankets and lawns chairs; outside food and beverage is permitted.

Memorial Event for Police
July 7, 11 a.m.

The first anniversary of the Dallas police shooting brings memories of a tragic night for the Dallas Police Department, DART and El Centro College. El Centro has scheduled a memorial event to honor the officers who died that night, those who were wounded (including two El Centro police officers, Cpl. Bryan Shaw and Officer John Abbott) and all of those officers who responded.

The event will be held in the Student Center. 

Memorial Event for Police
July 7, 6:30 – 10 p.m.

Tribute 7/7, an organization led by the Dallas Police Department and other law enforcement associations, is to thank the community for its support of law enforcement and to encourage more communication between them. 

Tribute 7/7 is planning an evening of remembrance at City Hall Plaza for the community to gather and share memories of the 2016 events; show support to officers and their families who attend; and celebrate the officers who were lost that night.

Juneteenth: A story that lives on

History and community came together at the Jackie Townsell Bear Creek Heritage Center, as Irving leaders and city supporters gathered to celebrate Juneteenth on Saturday, June 17. Juneteenth, also known as Juneteenth Independence Day, celebrates the announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas. That announcement, made on June 19, 1865, came years after Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on Sept. 22, 1862.

Although roughly half of the U.S. states acknowledge Juneteenth, Texas is the only state that has issued the event a legal state holiday. The 1865 announcement affected roughly 250,000 slaves in Texas, and the date has been celebrated every year since.

“It’s just one of those lessons that need to be taught each year,” said Jackie Madden, special events supervisor for the city of Irving. “You want it to always be at the top of a person’s mind. You always want to create awareness about it, so it doesn’t get lost.

Most celebrations happen on the local level and are a chance for communities to come together and reflect on the past and think about the future. The city of Irving has been sponsoring the event for over 20 years.

“It’s usually communal,” said Crystal Williams, a mentor at DVA Productions, Inc. “Your families are getting together, and you’re getting together with neighbors just celebrating freedom. It’s kind of a precursor to July 4th.”

DVA Productions, Inc., a non-profit theater company based out of Fort Worth, performed “The Magic of Museums” as part of their young artists mentor program.

“Every year we mentor young artists from our community who are interested in writing, acting, singing, musical theater, directing, whatever,” said Sheran Goodspeed Keyton, founder and artistic director of the organization. “We give them opportunities to perform in a professional realm with other professionals.”

Rev. Dennis Webb led a welcome prayer, and Tony Grimes, President of the Irving Carrolton Branch of the NAACP, helped sign up young men and women to vote. Ms. Mature Irving, Marilyn Wolford, offered the official welcoming and was thankful for the communal spirit surrounding the day’s festivities.

“We’ve got good people, good food, and great weather. God is good,” she said.

The event included a complimentary community picnic sponsored by In-N-Out, games, line dancing, and a musical celebration by VIBE The Band Concert. People could also join one of the ongoing tours of the Black History Museum.

“We really want them to take advantage of visiting the African American museums that we have on the property, because it’s just one of the vehicles of education throughout the world that’s telling a story of Black history,” Madden said. “We have that tool right here in our community and we want people to always remember this is a resource for Black history.”

The Bear Creek community in west Irving is one of the oldest African-American communities in Texas. The Jackie Townsell Bear Creek Heritage Center is comprised of three museums that tell the history of the Bear Creek community and the African-American experience from the time of emancipation through the Civil Rights movement. Ongoing Black History museum tours are conducted by the Irving Museum Board.

“The story needs to go on for generations,” Madden said. “This is the way to keep the story going.”