Skip to main contentSkip to main content
You have permission to edit this article.

Around Town: December 2022

  • 0

I love looking at holiday lights. In fact, our family still drives around during the Christmas season to look at the many gorgeous light displays. The Mayborn Museum decks out its Gov. Bill and Vara Daniel Historic Village during December and will host Christmas Lights in the Village from 6 to 8 p.m. Dec. 9-11 and 16-18.

This will be the third year for the light display that will feature more than 30,000 lights.

“We are excited to bring back this special outdoor holiday event,” said Charles Walter, Mayborn Museum director. “Christmas Lights in the Village has something fun to offer for all ages.”

Visitors can enjoy a relaxing stroll through the village, which will include a petting zoo, visits and photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus, festive food for purchase from local vendors, and more. Tickets for Christmas Lights in the Village cost $10 for adults and children ages 2 and up, and $5 for museum members and Baylor University students. Tickets are available online at or at the Mayborn Museum.

Barkin’ Ball

Speaking of spectacular light displays, for years Lana and Roger Schmidt have been going all out on decorating their Harris Creek residence. In fact, the couple won The Great Christmas Light Fight in 2018.

When people line up to view their lights, the Schmidts encourage them to donate to Fuzzy Friends Rescue.

“We had folks try to give us money to support our display, so instead of taking it ourselves, we decided to start a collection box for Fuzzy Friends Rescue,” the couple wrote via email. “Little did we know that it would grow from a few thousand dollars to over $10,000 in the last few years.”

For that unwavering dedication to the animal rescue, Lana and Roger are honorary chairs for this year’s Barkin’ Ball: A Night in Vegas. The popular New Year’s Eve gala, which will celebrate Fuzzy Friends’ 25th anniversary, will be held at The Base and will feature complimentary valet parking, a delicious dinner buffet catered by the Olive Branch and entertainment by Stratosphere by Scott Michaels Entertainment.

The evening also will include the Wine and Spirits Pull, a Casino Pull and a Louis Vuitton raffle as well as its extravagant options available in its live auction, posted bid board and silent auction. And no New Year’s Eve party would be complete without the countdown to midnight.

McCall and Hunter Harrell, who have their own rescue dog, Hank, are chairing this year’s Barkin’ Ball.

“We share a passion for the mission at Fuzzy Friends Rescue,” the Harrells wrote. “In 1997, Fuzzy Friends founder Betsy Robinson had a calling to make an impact in the lives of orphaned and homeless animals throughout Central Texas and established a safe haven committed to finding pets their forever homes. The commitment to these animals is what makes this opportunity to serve as chairs for the 2022 Barkin’ Ball so important to us.”

In 2000, the tradition of Barkin’ Ball was launched and now funds more than 65 percent of Fuzzy Friends’ operating budget. However, the organization does more than rescue animals. It also runs a READ program in which school-age children read aloud to a dog, which in turn increases the child’s reading skill and confidence.

Fuzzy Friends’ SMILES therapy program takes shelter animals to area nursing homes and provides some companionship to many residents who do not have any visitors except for these animals.

Fuzzy Friends also works with other rescue groups, including the Waco Humane Society, to provide space for homeless dogs and cats. Since its launching, Fuzzy Friends has saved close to 18,000 animals in need.

“For 25 years, Fuzzy Friends Rescue has been a shining light for animals in need,” Betsy said. “It is only because of our amazing donors and our wonderful team at Fuzzy Friends Rescue that this has all been possible.

“It really is hard to comprehend just how far we have come as an organization. This has been made possible only because of friends, supporters and volunteers who want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. I am hopeful about the future of Fuzzy Friends Rescue, and I ask you to take a chance and give a second chance to those who cannot help themselves.”

For more information about Barkin’ Ball, visit

Start Up Gala

When you think of college athletes, you probably aren’t thinking entrepreneurs. However, the ruling that college athletes can monetize their name, image and likeness (NIL) effectively did just that. Start Up Waco is working with these athletes and other entrepreneurs in the city to develop and provide support for their business models.

“Our work in the NIL space stems from our mission to develop the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Waco,” said Jon Passavant, CEO of Start Up Waco, which is a nonprofit. “As we watched the laws around monetization for student-athletes change, it effectively created over 500 new entrepreneurs right in our backyard.

“We felt it was a great opportunity for the broader Waco business community if we could bring these unique entrepreneurs into the ecosystem, so we took the programs that we run for entrepreneurs in the community and re-worked them to serve the unique opportunities and constraints of student-athletes. We ended up creating, in my view, one of the most well-rounded development programs in the country, and it’s a unique approach in leveraging the NIL.”

Start Up Waco formally began operations in 2018 after a group of leaders from different sectors throughout the city saw how other cities were responding to the boom in entrepreneurship over the past two decades and wanted to see Waco have a resilient and meaningful environment for its entrepreneurs.

The organization offers a host of programs ranging from multiple networking events monthly, focused accelerators that target specific demographics or industry sectors, and a micro-loan program that funds businesses that don’t qualify for traditional financing.

“We also operate a co-working and flexible office space in downtown Waco, have one-on-one advisory services available for all businesses, and create various types of media and curriculum for the businesses we work with,” Jon said. “A big part of our work also is with other economic development.”

Currently, 37 companies work out of Start Up Waco’s office space, but each week many more individuals participate in its events and programs. Start Up Waco has a monthly newsletter that outlines the opportunities to connect and a robust social media presence.

To bring more community awareness to the organization, Start Up Waco will host its inaugural gala on Dec. 10 at The Base. Cocktails will be served at 6 p.m. followed by a gourmet dinner catered by local Waco chef Jose Flores of La Parrilla with Milk Bottle Cookies for dessert. Guests also will enjoy the sounds of live holiday jazz music by the Pat McKee Band, and a red carpet photo experience. Attire is cocktail or formal.

The Start Up Gala will offer a unique opportunity to meet and mingle with Baylor student-athletes in the GXG Lounge and hear the stories of local entrepreneurs in the Start Up Waco Lounge. Jon, city leaders, local entrepreneurs, and Baylor coaches and athletes will speak during a special presentation.

“Because we work directly with Baylor University student-athletes, we are able to have them participate and meet supporters of Start Up Waco, take pictures with attendees and even speak about their experience as entrepreneurs in this new NIL landscape. Rather than facilitating just another one-dimensional Q&A, we are creating a fun, festive atmosphere where attendees can strike up natural conversations with the same athletes they usually cheer for from a distance,” said Start Up Waco’s Emily Miller.

Individual tickets to the Start Up Waco Gala start at $200 and table sponsorships cost $1,500. For more information, visit

Christmas on the Brazos

Construction and collaborations have created new opportunities for Historic Waco, especially at the holiday season. The organization that helps preserve the heritage of Waco in diverse ways will work with the Pape Foundation and the Helen Marie Taylor Museum during HW’s annual Christmas on the Brazos celebration.

Holiday dinners will be held at the Pape Foundation’s Earle Harrison House on Fourth Street and HW’s East Terrace and McCulloch House. The opportunity to use the Earle Harrison House opened up because Historic Waco’s own Earle Napier Kinnard House is undergoing renovation.

The dinners will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. Dec. 3. Each house will have its own menu (with a vegetarian option), live entertainment and holiday decorations. Tickets are $85 with a discount offered for four of more tickets.

The homes will be beautifully decorated for the season, each with its own theme. For example, McCulloch will focus on the Victorian family while elaborate East Terrace will showcase the grandeur of the Victorian era. These two homes also will be open for tours during December.

On Dec. 10, Historic Waco will host Breakfast with Santa at the Helen Marie Taylor Museum, 701 Jefferson Ave. Visit jolly old St. Nick and his helpers from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. There will be food, a hot chocolate bar, educational activities, crafts and a vendor market.

Tickets cost $5.

Historic Waco also has a new logo that features an orange and blue color scheme derived from a very important source: its historic houses. The orange is a blend of the orange bricks found on all three of the historic house museums, while the blue is the same shade as the paint on Hoffmann House, Historic Waco’s headquarters location.

You’ll note that the arch in the “H” of the logo is inspired by the arches above the doors to the historic homes, while the negative space at the center of the “W” represents the shape of a Waco Indian grass house. These two elements draw together the major dwelling types of Waco residents both before and after the establishment of the city in 1849.

For more information about the Christmas on the Brazos dinners and Breakfast with Santa, visit

Athena Award

The Waco community is filled with dynamic female leaders. Four of them will participate in a panel discussion on leadership during the upcoming Leading Waco Women Serving Summit, hosted by the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce, on Dec. 7 at the Waco Convention Center.

One of those four will receive the prestigious 2022 Athena Leadership Waco Award, which is presented to a leader who has achieved excellence in her business or profession, has served the community in a meaningful way and has assisted other women in their attainment of professional goals and leadership skills.

The four finalists are Deidra Emerson, city of Waco; Carolyn Haferkamp, Central National Bank; Becky Kramm, L3Harris; and Tyrha M. Lindsey-Warren, Baylor University.

Emerson launched her career in public administration in 1995. She serves Waco as the deputy city manager. She is active in numerous professional and civic organizations, including the Waco-McLennan County United Way Board, McLennan County College Foundation Board and Baylor Board of Advocates Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty. She earned her bachelor of arts in business management from Dillard University and an MBA from Texas Wesleyan.

Haferkamp began working for Central National Bank in 1998 and now serves as president and chief operating officer. She serves on the Waco chamber board, is an advisory board member of Waco Civic Theatre, member and former president of the Waco Founder Lions Club and a sustaining member of the Junior League of Waco Inc. She is a graduate of Leadership Waco and served as general chair of the Cattle Baron’s Ball.

Kramm graduated from SMU in 2004 and serves as business development manager at L3Harris, where she established herself as the company’s main community outreach point of contact. She was a Waco Under 40 honoree in 2020 and is a Leadership Waco alumna. Her community service includes the Greater Waco Aviation Alliance, the Freedom Ball and the LEAD program. In 2023, she and her husband will serve as chairs of the Cattle Baron’s Ball.

Lindsey-Warren is a clinical assistant professor of marketing and the faculty director of industry relations and experiential learning at Baylor’s Hankamer School of Business and is the founder of the Baylor Business Advertising Summit. She is also the founder and lead producer of the Waco Family & Faith International Film Festival. She serves on the boards for Art Center Waco and the Waco Symphony Association.

The Serving Summit, which will run from 10:30 a.m. until 1 p.m., will include a keynote presentation from Shannon Sedgwick Davis, Baylor Law School graduate, CEO of Bridgeway Foundation and the author of “To Stop a Warlord.”

The Athena Leadership Award was first presented in 1982 in Lansing, Michigan, and has grown to include presentations to more than 5,000 individuals in hundreds of cities in the United States as well as in Canada, China, Russia and the United Kingdom.

For tickets to the luncheon or for more information, visit

Winter Art Camp

Do you have some budding artists in your family or are you looking for an activity to entertain your children during the holidays? Art Center Waco is here to help. A four-day Winter Art Camp will be held Dec. 19-22 while a three-day camp is scheduled for Dec. 27-29. The camps are appropriate for children in first through sixth grade.

The Art Center will model the camps after its popular Art Lab classes for children. These artist-led classes focus on a particular style, movement or artist from art history. Students learn about the subject and have a chance to mimic a piece of art. The art camps will focus on winter-themed art.

Art Center Waco also will hold an Art Lab class on Dec. 10 with a focus on the new Cameron Collection exhibit.

“This isn’t a craft club,” said AnnaLauren Packer, the Art Center’s children’s education coordinator. “Our Art Lab students have access to materials, training and techniques that they can’t readily do at home. It’s great fun, and they come home with new knowledge.”

Winter art camps are being offered as full-day (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.) classes, but as of Nov. 28 will open up any remaining spaces to half-day students (9 a.m. to noon or 1 to 4 p.m.). The four-day camp costs $230 ($115 for half days only) while the three-day camp is $180 ($90 for the half day). Art labs cost $15 for the 1 ½ hours (there’s one in the morning, and a repeat in the afternoon).

For registration, visit 

Julie Campbell Carlson has written for Waco Today since 1997. She’s always looking for interesting tidbits for her column.

She can be reached at

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Most Popular

Although she calls her Czech-American Restaurant a “hole in the wall” with its well-worn décor, Jenene Gueringer’s eatery remains the oldest bar and oldest family-owned restaurant in West.

Suzi Pagel has dedicated her career to students and staff of Midway ISD: After more than two decades and $2 million in classroom grants and programs, she retires this month.

“Variety is the spice of life” fits Christy Swanson like a glove: A familiar face in civic leadership, she has moved into a new role with Heart of Texas Goodwill.

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.


Breaking News

News Alert