Category Archives: Community Events

Open house exhibits Coppell fire department’s diversity

On Sunday, October 13, the Coppell Fire Department (CFD) held its annual open house in conjunction with National Fire Prevention Week (annually the second week in October). CFD has been hosting the event for more than 15 years to educate the community about safety and emergency preparedness.

Coppell Fire Chief Kevin Richardson explained, “The open house is designed for two things. One, to provide education to our community about fire and life safety initiatives, so we have a number of people who will help provide some information from disaster training to weather preparedness – how to learn CPR – just a whole slew of prevention and education opportunities. The second thing we try to do is educate our community a little bit about what the fire department does. It’s really transcribed into an overall life safety initiative. We do technical rescues. We do hazardous materials. We have paramedics and transport EMS (Emergency Medical Services). And we do also fight fires. So, really, we’re an all hazards organization, and we want our community to understand that that’s what we’re doing. And (we are here to) educate them on what exactly the services (are) they can expect from the fire department in Coppell.”

The bays that normally house the fire trucks at Fire Station #3 were filled with information tables and displays related to health and safety. Kids were invited to try on full firefighter gear from the boots up to the helmet. They were also able to aim a small fire hose at a simulated burning house. And, of course, the big red fire trucks were out on display.

As promised, firefighters also demonstrated a few technical rescue procedures. In one presentation, a ladder truck had its ladder extended high above and amannequin was suspended from a cable to simulate a stranded person. Then a firefighter was hoisted up on another cable to reach the “victim” and bring him safely down. Another rescue team used a salvage car to demonstrate a motor vehicle rescue. They broke out the glass and forced open the doors with the “Jaws of Life,” a hydraulic rescue tool used to free victims from confined spaces by cutting, ramming or spreading debris. In many cases, they were forcing the car to yield at its strongest structural points. Finally, they bent the car frame downward which would allow them to free a driver from beneath the steering wheel.

Even though the event had a school carnival atmosphere with the shrieks and laughter of happy children, the folks who came out learned a thing or two about staying safe in a desperate situation, and they got to meet some of the people who dedicate themselves to rescuing them and keeping them safe.

Community Calendar 10/19/13

Blessing of the shelter pets

Oct. 19. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Adopt spayed or neutered pets for free, or just come to the Irving Animal Care Campus to enjoy the Blessing of the Shelter Pets, live music, and food (rain/shine) with proceeds going to the DFW Humane Society.

Las Colinas Symphony Orchestra

Oct. 19, 8 p.m.

Las Colinas Symphony Orchestra features Howard Hilliard, French Horn in the Carpenter Hall, Irving Arts Center (3333 N. MacArthur Blvd). For ticket information call (972) 252-4800.

Splat the Cat, Musical Adventure

Oct. 22, 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.

Irving Arts Center presents the Magik Theatre’s world premiere musical. The story follows Splat on his first day of Cat School. He worries about fitting in and making friends. To ease his jitters, Splat hides Seymour, his pet mouse, inside his lunchbox. Seymour escapes and pandemonium ensues. Carpenter Hall, Irving Arts Center. $6.

EmployAbility Expo

Oct. 23, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The Dallas Mayor’s Committee, in support of National Disability Awareness Month, will host the fourth annual expo at Cityplace Conference and Event Center in Dallas. The Expo offers networking and educational opportunities for those with disabilities.

Hispanic Chamber Awards Lunch

Oct 24, 11:30 am to 1 p.m.

Join the Irving Hispanic Chamber at the Sheraton DFW Airport Hotel (4440 W John Carpenter Frwy) to greet one of the most influential Hispanics, United Stated Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Chairman, Marc Rodriguez as he provides insight into the areas of working with legislators for your business.

Lady Tigers Golf Benefit Tournament

Oct. 26, 7 a.m. to Noon

Come support your Irving Lady Tigers with a relaxing round of golf at the Bear Creek Golf Club.

Keys to Success

Oct. 26, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Planning for college should start early – even sixth grade isn’t too soon! The Dallas County Community College District will host its fall “Keys to Success/Las Llaves del Exito” event at UNT Dallas (7300 University Hills Blvd.) The event will help students in grades 6 to 12 explore the world of college and how to prepare for that important day ahead.

Purple Paw Project

Oct. 26, 1o a.m. to 1 p.m.

The ASPCA estimates that up to 48% of women stay in abusive situations longer because they fear for the safety and well-being of their pets. Additionally, pets that live in domestic violence situations are 11 times more likely to be abused as well.

Come to Lively Park (909 O’Connor Rd., Irving) to help raise and community support surrounding this important issue. The event will offer a variety of pet-friendly activities along with domestic violence education and resources for the communities of Irving, Grand Prairie and beyond.

Prescription Drug Disposal Day

Oct. 26, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Residents have the opportunity to drop off controlled pharmaceutical substances for proper disposal at two Walmart locations (4100 W. Airport Freeway, or 1635 Market Place Blvd) as part of the National Take Back initiative. The program is a partnership between the Irving Police Department, Drug Enforcement Administration and other participating law enforcement agencies. For more information, contact Sgt. Joe Palomar at (972) 721-2545.

Air Care: Impact of the Unknown

Oct. 26, 10:30 a.m. to Noon

Come to Coppell’s Fire Station 3 (117 Parkway Blvd, Coppell) to learn about Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) and increase your knowledge of the benefits of green practices in your home. The class encourages creativity in sustainable design and highlight simple steps that can be taken to improve IAQ and takes a close look at Indoor Environmental Quality and why IAQ is important across the nation.

Trick or Treat

Oct 26, Noon to 3 p.m.

Bring your kid down to Whistlestop plaza to get trick or treat at local businesses to the backdrop of classic cars and jazz music by the 2 Tone Band.

Music on Main Street

Oct. 26, 1 to 2:30 p.m.

The Parks and Recreation Department is teaming up with the Irving Public Library to present an afternoon of family fun at Whistlestop Plaza! Enjoy a vintage car show, live jazz music by the 2 Tone Band, children’s activities and food as we celebrate “The Great Gatsby”, which is the focus of The Big Read 2013. For more details about the car show, call Mike at 903-215-0846.

Teen Driver Safety Fair

Oct. 26, 4 p.m.

In conjunction with National Teen Driver Safety Week, AAA Texas is presenting a free Teen Driver Safety Fair at the Lively Pointe Youth Center (909 N. O’Connor Road). Teens and their families will receive practical tips and tools to develop safe driving habits. Activities will include interactive exhibits, vendor booths, informational videos and giveaways.

Irving Cares needs food

Last year, Irving Cares provided nutritionally-balanced emergency groceries to over 9,600 families – your Irving neighbors. At that volume, the Food Pantry needed over 817,000 pounds of food, and only 285,000 (35%) pounds were donated. Please help your neighbors by holding a neighborhood association food drive for Irving Cares. For more information, contact Kyle Taylor at (972) 721-9181 x 209.

Walter Harvey Folk Art exhibit

Several of the Walter Harvey carvings are now on display in the Mustang Museum (5205 North O’Connor, Suite 155). Open Wednesday-Saturday 11am-5pm, the museum provides free admission and validation for garage parking.

National Treasure

George W. Bush Presidential Library Director Alan C. Lowe stand with Kaye Ward (left), Irving Heritage Society VP of Programs, and Heritage Society President Janice Carroll (right). Lowe spoke to the Society recently about the inner workings of presidential libraries. Courtesy Photo.
George W. Bush Presidential Library Director Alan C. Lowe stand with Kaye Ward (left), Irving Heritage Society VP of Programs, and Heritage Society President Janice Carroll (right). Lowe spoke to the Society recently about the inner workings of presidential libraries. Courtesy Photo.

Bush library invigorates history by returning to the Source

As we become further removed from the tumultuous events of the early 2000s, children learn of its significance not from memory but from second hand accounts and entries in history books. But the scrupulous melding of source texts and modern communication technologies may connect a younger generation and reconnect older ones to the living, breathing events of Sept. 11, 2001 and the early days of the War on Terror.

This was a partial focus of the presentation given by Alan C. Lowe as the new Director of the George W. Bush Presidential Library spoke to the Irving Heritage Society on Sept. 30. He used his 24 years of experience roaming the National Archives from California to Washington, D.C. to demonstrate the importance of connecting Americans to the source documents of their history.

“We say in the library, ‘To really understand history, to understand the issues and events and people, look at the primary sources,’” Lowe said. “…(Digging) deep into the primary documentation – this is a great example of the resources of presidential libraries.”

Lowe used a draft of Ronald Reagan’s 1983 Evil Empire speech, which shows President Reagan’s detailed edits, as an example of how the libraries contribute to Americans’ understanding of history.

“This is a cool draft because I think it shows that Reagan was very engaged, as you can see his edits throughout the entire speech…,” he said. “People have different ways (of thinking about Reagan. The say) he wasn’t very engaged…but he was very engaged in what became a very historic speech.”

Since his first days at the Reagan Library in the early ‘90s, Lowe’s career took him to Washington, where he managed presidential libraries for the National Archive. He also cut his teeth as interim Director of the FDR Presidential Library and set up the Howard H. Baker Center for Public Policy at the University of Tennessee. During that time, he distilled his understanding of the real contributions of presidential libraries.

“The libraries are determined to educate good citizens in their communities… We are a resource for teachers and students,” he said. “And plus, we can do that in areas like history and civics teaching but also beyond, (contributing) to the public policy (through) our data because presidents deal with immense numbers of public policy (issues).

“But even more importantly than these specific issues, we (instruct) how do you do research, how do you use documents, how do you work together, how do you think critically.”

The basis of all the Bush Center’s work, Lowed stressed, is in the archives where archivists spent five years culling through millions of documents, arranging them so the public can access them efficiently.

Some of these files contain the Bush administration’s record policy memos. Written near the end of the administration, these documents supply a record, written by the people who made the decisions, about why they made them.

“I think for students and scholars, it’s a valuable resource saying this is the administration’s position. These are …things they thought about when they did (what they did),” Lowe said.

Archivists at the library’s warehouse in Lewisville have been ceaselessly sifting through the 70 million papers for half a decade.

“Fourteen archivists, their job every day is to read every document line by line and determine what can be opened and what has to be closed,” Lowe said. “For example, we have to close things for national security purposes, personal privacy…we have a lot of confidential financial information.”

This task is monumental. The Reagan library only contains 42 million papers.

Besides the millions of paper files, the Bush White House was the first to truly integrate technologies like email. Archivists are currently sifting through 80 terabytes of data. By comparison, the Clinton Library has four terabytes.

“We have a lot of paper records, but that doesn’t tell you the whole story. But what really distinguishes us is our electronic collection,” Lowe said. “The Bush White House is the first time that the computer really impacted the operations of the White House.

“The thing that keeps me awake occasionally is the email component. We have around 200 million emails that if you were to print them out would print about a billion pages… Now, a billion pages is more than every other presidential library combined, by far.

“I’m really pressing Washington, once we get past shutdown sequester and all that, to go back and think about how we (could) use technology to go through these emails, so my archivists don’t have to lay eyes on every line, every copy. And that is a bit of a heresy, because if we miss something that’s top secret or is (a) social security number, there are negative ramifications…but if it’s supposed to be about timely access, (we need to change our approach).”

Since the library began handling files in 2009, most of these archives have remained inaccessible, but starting at the end of January 2014 the information will be available to anyone who submits a Freedom of Information Act request.

Although most of these archives have been closed for over four and a half years, the library has already given the public access to whatever information they could. By working with President Bush and the Obama administration, the library has already released 400,000 documents.

Included among these are three pages President Bush wrote with a Sharpie (one of his favorite writing utensils) in a Florida classroom on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.

“I think it’s a very historic document, because it’s his first thoughts on paper after he learned of the attacks,” Lowe said. “It’s really interesting to see the whole text, and then hear him speak it, because he added to it and embellished it, and you can tell these words were written in…the morning.”

But most visitors, even students, do not have the time to sift through raw data, no matter how well organized, so the Bush Center integrated the information into exhibits that allow participants to engage the material as real time sources, not footnotes in a textbook.

After the conference room in the White House was renovated, the old one was sent to Dallas. Immersed in this room, where the president decided the course of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, kids can run scenarios that President Bush faced during his eight years, including a Sept. 11 situation. The library has plans to conduct a Ronald Reagan situation, in conjunction with the Reagan Presidential Library, as well as one based on George Washington.

Another exhibit lets participants handle other crises that rocked the Bush White House including the Invasion of Iraq and Hurricane Katrina.

“You have to make decisions. You get advice from different sources, and each source has two people to give you opposite advice. And you can go to the Pentagon, go to Congress,” Lowe said. “(After it is all over) then the president comes out and says, ‘This is why I made this decision.’

“More fundamentally, (it) shows that presidents have to make decisions. You may completely disagree with him, or you may completely agree with him, but (it shows) the information. He has to apply these principles, and at the end of the day he has to make some really, really difficult, world changing decisions while he’s in office.”

Updates from The First Tee of Dallas

Ultimate Trip Pebble Beach Raffle Winners

On Monday, Oct. 7, at the Sonny Bryan’s Finish Line Party at Las Colinas Country Club, The First Tee of Dallas (TFTD) alumna Valeria DeFex drew the lucky names for our Ultimate Trip to Pebble Beach Raffle. Though the big winners are the kids and families of Greater Dallas that get to take part in The First Tee program that is made possible by the generous support of donors, here is the list of names that were pulled!
1. Ultimate Trip to Pebble Beach – Bill Tillett
2. Trip to Horseshoe Bay – Harry Bizios
3. Trip to TPC San Antonio and the JW Marriott – Jerry McMillan
4. Stay and Play at TPC Four Seasons – Peter McGrath
5. Custom fit TaylorMade Irons – Teresa Crow
6. Golf for Four at Gleneagles Country Club – Jon Crumley
100 Additional Prizes were awarded! The complete list is at
Congratulations and thank you again for taking a shot at Pebble and investing in our young people!
TFTD Golf Marathon
We survived and actually thrived! What a day and what an event! More than 66 marathoners joined us at Cedar Crest and Las Colinas Country Club on Monday, Oct. 7, as we logged more than 1,700 miles of golf and raised more than $80,000 for the programs of The First Tee! Thanks to all who supported us with extra special thanks to our presenting sponsor Houlihan Lokey, Sonny Bryan’s Smokehouse, and our new Marathon Record Holder Taylor Martin and Craig Wilson for engaging more than 100 supporters and raising almost $15,000!
Missed Monday, but still want to Marathon??? Join us for the overflow date, Monday, Oct.28, 8 a.m. Same deal. Sponsor yourself at $100 to start then tell your friends and raise as much as you can to finish! Sign up at or contact

Dallas Mayor’s Committee hosts fourth Employability Expo

DALLAS – In support of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, The Dallas Mayor’s Committee for the Employment of People with Disabilities (DMC) will host the fourth annual employability Expo from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Oct. 23 at Cityplace Conference and Event Center. The event provides a day of networking, resources and education for the job search.

The event will provide a variety of opportunities for both employers and job seekers. Educational sessions for those seeking employment aim to teach résumé editing, interviewing skills, online job application tips and general job search advice. There will also be invaluable networking opportunities with hiring representatives from 45 top companies.
For employers, the expo provides insight into the skills, work ethic and determination that people with disabilities can bring to the working world. Representatives can also learn about the overall value of maintaining a diverse organization in this day and age. According to the Center for Social Development and Education at the University of Massachusetts, 87 percent of American consumers prefer to give their business to companies that hire people with disabilities.
Event sponsors Alliance Data, PepsiCo and AT&T know firsthand the benefits of hiring candidates with disabilities and hope to share their insight with other business leaders and job seekers.
“By hiring persons with disabilities, Alliance Data can meet a tangible business need in addition to simply doing the right thing for our company and our community,” said Alliance Data Vice President of Corporate Administration Jim Pierce. “An obvious halo effect can be seen as well. By working alongside these individuals, we engender employee pride in our company and help raise employee loyalty and engagement.”
Representatives from organizations including Bank of America, Southwest Airlines, Mary Kay, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Children’s Medical Center Dallas, Walgreens and Waste Management Inc. will attend this year’s expo.
“We are always excited to participate in the expo,” said Jim Leonard of PepsiCo. “This is a unique and important opportunity for those with disabilities to get in front of the most reputable companies in Dallas.”
SOURCE The Dallas Mayor’s Committee for the Employment of People with Disabilities

Community Events October 17-20

Art and Literature Festival

Oct. 14-17

North Lake College’s first Arts and Literary Festival is jam-packed with exciting events, demonstrations, concerts and even a few open dance parties! Celebrate the college’s acclaimed arts programs: art, ceramics, dance, literature, journalism, photography, theatre, music, and video technology. There’s also a Hispanic Heritage talk featuring a prominent scholar. A Hispanic Arts and Culture Exhibition will display artwork, books, and collectibles all week long in the Gallery and StudentLifeCenter.

Women’s Defense Class:

Oct. 14-17, 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Registration is now open for the Irving Police Athletic League’s four-day rape aggression defense class for women, ages 12 years and older, at the Fire and Police Training Academy (2603 Esters Rd.). At the training, participants will practice realistic self-defense tactics and techniques. Call Officer Jill Smith at 972-721-2544, for more information.

Food Day for Kids

Oct. 19, 8 a.m. to Noon

The Coppell Farmers Market will be celebrating Food Day by focusing on youth and nutrition at the farmers market. Celebrate healthy, affordable and sustainable food by targeting nutrition. This year, there will be a variety of kid-friendly, hands-on activities all morning, 8am to noon.

Wildflower Seeding

Oct. 19, 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

Gather your friends and family, scout troop and neighbors for a fun, free event at MooreRoadPark! Reminisce of what Coppell looked like as a prairie and do the ‘buffalo stomp’ with the herd of seeders. No pre-registration required.

Composting Basics

Oct. 19, 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Come to the William T. Cozby Library (177 N. Heartz Rd., Coppell) and discover the benefits of composting, and how it can help our yard and our planet.

Canal Fest

Oct. 19, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The Las Colinas Canal District’s Canal Fest is a celebration of the many cultures that reside in and enhance the Irving community. This art and culture festival features music, visual and performing arts, and foods representative of various cultures, as well as amusements and activities for the entire family.

Discover Islam Course

Oct. 19, 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Islamic Center of Irving (2555 Esters Rd.) invites all to discover Islam in October! This course is a great opportunity to learn about Islam, the second largest religion in the world and often most the misunderstood, directly from Muslims.

Ritch Mann – a drama

Oct. 19, 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.

This theatrical performance written and directed by Cynthia Reid Wills is based on her novel, Vain Glory. Inspired by Michael Jackson’s song, Billie Jean, it tells the story of the illegitimate son who was denied by his superstar father, grows up to become famous himself in the music industry, but must address the demons of his past. Dupree Theater, IrvingArtsCenter. $15-25.

How to Manage Stress: Special Considerations for Parents of Special Needs Children

Oct. 19, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Workshop-goers will learn how to recognize stress and how it “works” from social, physiological and psychological, and familial perspectives. Participants will complete a stress questionnaire, after which they will review the results, discuss the implications behind them, and brainstorm ways to manage stress.

October 19

5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Join Coppell for the annual Oak Fest at Andy Brown Community Park East (260 E. Parkway Blvd.). The theme celebrates life in Coppell as being as diverse as the oak trees. The city of Coppell logo includes oak branches representing the city’s most prominent trees, longevity and additionally, the oak wood used to build the railroad ties that put Coppell on the map. Building on our community’s roots and growing strength, we pause for an evening of community fun, live music and fellowship.

Shall We Dance?

Oct. 19, 8 p.m.

The Las Colinas Symphony Orchestra presents its 2013-2014 Season at Carpenter Hall in the IrvingArtsCenter, featuring Howard Hilliard performing Mozart Horn Concerto No. 1 in D Major. $15-45.

Sculpture by Pastor Garcia

Oct. 19 – Jan. 5, 2014

The exhibition features brightly colored Mexican folk art sculptures of fantastical creatures made by local artist and Art Connection member and Irving resident, Pastor Garcia. The style of work, called Alebrijes, originated in Oaxaca, Mexico. The Alebrijes are imaginary creatures that have elements from different animals such as dragon bodies, bat wings, wolf teeth and dog eyes. Garcia’s works are created using papier mâché intricately decorated with paint. Free.

Gatsby: Myths and Misconceptions

Oct. 20, 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Visit the Irving Heritage House (303 S. O’Connor) for a talk led by UT Dallas Professor and Fitzgerald expert Milton Cohen. Tea and finger sandwiches will be served. Sponsored by the Irving Heritage Society and Irving Public Library. Call (972) 721-4612, for more information.

Irving City Manager Recruitment Survey

The Mayor and City Council have engaged Waters Consulting Group (WCG) to lead the city’s search for the next city manager. The WCG is conducting a survey to seek input from Irving residents on what strengths and qualifications the next city manager should possess. The City of Irving will not see submitted surveys, all information is sent directly to WCG. Hard copies may be obtained by contacting Kendra Bradley at (214) 466-2445.

Irving Police Customer Service Survey

Through October, the Irving Police Department in collaboration with the University of Dallas will be conducting the 2013 customer satisfaction survey. The survey seeks the opinions and commentaries of persons who have requested service from the department in the last three months. If you are contacted, your participation will be greatly appreciated. The goals of the survey are to: measure the level of satisfaction of callers regarding police department services, gather the opinions and comments of customers and focus on the timeliness of services, customer expectations and the professionalism of department employees

The survey will not collect any personal identifying information. For more information call (972) 721-2669.

Irving ISD Education Notes

October 18-19 – Sports Extravaganza

Sports Extravaganza provides an opportunity to the students with visual impairments to participate and compete in a variety of leisure, recreation and competitive activities. Opening ceremonies will be at Nimitz High School beginning on Friday, October 18 at 5 p.m. Events will continue on Saturday, October 19 from 9:00 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
October 22 – Leaders in Science
The Leaders in Science (LIS) Program will kick-Off at Hanes Elementary School on October 9 at 11 a.m. LIS is a professional development program operated by the Perot Museum of Nature and Science and in partnership with United Way of Metropolitan Dallas.
October 25 – Irving Schools Foundation Legacy Gala
The Irving Schools Foundation will host the Third Annual Legacy Gala at the Four Seasons Resort & Club in Las Colinas on Friday, October 25. Funds from the Legacy Gala support Irving ISD students and schools. Grants are provided to campuses to sustain and critical and innovative programs such as STEM, AVID and the Signature Studies.
October 25 – Deadline for End of Course Retest Registration
Monday, December 2, 2013  English 1 writing
Tuesday, December 3, 2013  English 1 reading
Wednesday, December 4, 2013 English 2 writing
Thursday, December 5, 2013  English 2 reading
Friday, December 6, 2013  Algebra 1
Monday, December 9, 2013  US History
Tuesday, December 10, 2013  Biology
ELIGIBILITY: Any student that previously took that EOC test.
REGISTRATION: Students who have not met Level II standard and tested in Irving ISD spring 2013 are automatically registered. Out-of-District (OOD) students must be registered by home district or campus personnel online at by October 25, 2013.
Questions concerning out-of-district examinee testing should be directed to the Texas Education Agency, Division of Student Assessment, at (512) 463-9536, or to the Irving Independent School District at (972) 600-5085.
November 5 – School Works Luncheon
School Works, a faith-based coalition in Irving, will attend a luncheon on Tuesday, November 5 to learn how their organizations can help Irving ISD students. A mentoring framework will be presented to the group and they will be challenged to start a mentoring program at their site. School Works serves as advisors to any of these groups as to how to begin a mentoring program. The annual luncheon will be at 11:30 a.m. on November 5 at Singley Academy.
Photo Gallery Features Walk to School Day, Singley Engineering Girls and More
Designed to share photos with Irving ISD parents, students, employees and the community at large, Irving ISD has created an online photo gallery. To view (and download) pictures from Walk to School Day, the Singly Engineering Girls Presentation and more, visit
School Board Seeks Applicants for Vacant Seat
The Irving ISD Board of Trustees is seeking applicants to fill the vacant District 6 seat on the board. To be considered, interested candidates must live in District 6 of Irving ISD and submit a completed application by noon on October 30, 2013. For more information, visit

ComicCon helps fans help their communities

Comicon web

The idea of a comic convention elicits a wide range of reactions, from the utter enthusiasm of its fans and attendees to the boredom and dismissal of the uninterested. Enthusiasts boast the opportunities a convention affords for coming together as a community, as well as for meeting celebrities, purchasing collectibles, and dressing up as their favorite characters.

At the Dallas ComicCon: Fan Days, held annually since 1994, a current of excitement filled the air in the Irving Convention Center from Oct. 4-6. On the first floor in an open chamber, a sea of fans interacted with famous artists, traveling novelists, and no shortage of vendors. These conventions have become somewhat famous for “cosplaying”, where fans show up dressed as characters from their favorite comics, books, movies, and TV shows.

Many serious cosplayers build their costumes with painstaking detail and have partnered with other fans to form costuming groups. Several of these groups were on display at the convention center this weekend with a motive you might not have expected: charity.

David Petty is a member of the 501st Legion, a global Star Wars-themed costume group with over 6,500 members. They work through comic conventions and other fan-driven events in order to benefit such causes as the Make a Wish Foundation, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and Toys for Tots. This weekend they put on an event called Blast-a-Trooper, in which fans, for a small charitable contribution, can fire Nerf guns at Stormtroopers. Anthony Daniels (the actor who played C3PO in Star Wars) made an appearance and gleefully fired darts at the volunteers, while a group of costumed children stared, giggling and waiting for their turns.

This weekend the 501st turned their focus inward, using their donations to raise money for a member’s mother, who is currently battling breast cancer.

In addition to the convention, several members were involved this weekend with Star Wars Reads. A community event, sponsored by Lucasfilm Ltd. in partnership with several major national book chains and local libraries, it teaches both reading and the love of reading using the novels set in the Star Wars universe.

“I won’t say it was a nightmare, but it hasn’t been easy,” said Petty, laughing. “Yesterday I had to do an elementary school.”

The 501st was joined in this project by two other Star Wars-themed “charitable costuming” organizations, the Mandalorian Mercs and the Rebel Legion.

“I got into charitable costuming because I was involved with the Society for Creative Anachronism for ten years prior to this”, said Ashley Clayton of the Mandalorian Mercs, a similarly-themed organization, “and I decided I wanted to do something good with my geekiness.”

In addition to Star Wars Reads, the Mercs were recently involved in fundraising for the victims of the tornado that devastated Moore, Okla. in May.

The groups showed off an impressive display of originally-built equipment from their different fandoms designed, like the costumes, to seem as close as possible to the real thing. Many of those items would be raffled off by the end of the weekend, the proceeds donated to any number of charitable causes.

“It’s an amazing thing,” a bystander reported. “You get to come and enjoy the culture with people like you, and then you don’t just enjoy it for yourself. You get to use what you love in order to help people in need.”

Festival accepting entries for Fiction Writing Contest grades 7-12

Texas Book Festival, in partnership with the University Interscholastic League (UIL), is now accepting entries for its 12th annual Fiction Writing Contest, sponsored by Kirkus Reviews, to encourage and reward creative writing in Texas schools. This year’s theme is “From the Back of the Truck.”

Texas junior and high school students (grades 7-12) are invited to submit a piece of original fiction, no more than 2,000 words in length. Entries must be submitted online via the form on the Texas Book Festival’s website no later than July 2. Submitted entries are considered in three divisions: grades 7-8, grades 9-10, and grades 11-12.
Winners in each division will receive a cash prize: $250 for first place, $100 for second, and $50 for third. In addition, first place winners will be awarded a plaque, will have stories published on the Texas Book Festival website, and will be invited to participate on a panel during the annual fall Festival weekend October 26-27. Accommodations for one night will be provided for the first-place winners and their family.
For contest rules and more information, visit .
Source: Texas Book Festival