The Daily Update: Monday, Dec 6

December 6, 2010 by · Comments Off 

The Daily Update: Monday, Dec 6 from on Vimeo.

Join us for an abbreviated version of The Daily Update where we tell you about illegal immigrants in Texas public schools, a massive fire in Israel, and who kicked Harry Potter out of the number one spot in the box office.

HP Vintage Carriage Rides Bring Holiday Spirit

December 6, 2010 by · Comments Off 

By Molly McKone

The holiday season brings a sprit to the air that some call “the most wonderful time of the year,” because it gives people the opportunity to be with family and friends to share tradition.

One tradition in Highland Park can be found while nestling under a big blanket, sipping on hot cider, singing Christmas carols, relaxing in a beautiful horse drawn carriage that takes its passengers on a tour of the decorations Highland Park families put up every year.

Vintage Carriage Rides offers carriage rides to students, adults and children of all ages through Highland Park to see all the extravagant Christmas lights every year.

“We start Highland Park rides the day after Thanksgiving and go through the beginning of the year,” said George Slayton, president and general manager of Vintage Carriage Rides. “We love taking people through the Highland Park Christmas lights and build a tradition for families. We have numerous repeats every year now.”

The carriage company started business in December of 2003 and is now the carriage company for The Texas Rangers, the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders, the Ranch Radio Network and the Dallas Police Department.

“We first started our carriage company to specialize in horse drawn funerals,” Mr. Slayton said. “Our family has many years of experience in the funeral industry and thought it would be a wonderful tradition to being back to the metroplex. Since then, our business has grown and includes weddings, hayrides, quinceneras, etc.”

Co-owner of Vintage Carriage Rides, Roberta Slayton, recalls when she first got into the family business.

“My son TJ came up with the idea and my ex-husband and I bought our first set of Percherons and a funeral hearse,” Ms. Slayton said. “Then it developed into having six Percherons and two funeral hearses. We then expanded to the wedding business and have a white wedding carriage. We also have two vintage hay wagons. So a small dream exploded into an enterprise.”

Some might think the rides are mainly for younger children and older adults but she insists they are not.

“Carriage rides are for all ages, young and old,” Ms. Slayton said. “We have done sororities, weddings, birthdays and all different kinds of events.”

Vintage Carriage Rides gives each of their customers a different experience, making the ride personal and hard to forget.

“We do get college students,” Mr. Slayton said. “We have sororities who book with us. The hayride is the best wagon for big groups. People can cuddle up, commiserate and have hot chocolate, or hot toddies, if you are over 21. Our hay wagons hold 20 people, so it can be a raucous time on those wagons.”

After people ride on the horse drawn carriages, many say that their fondest memory is enjoying the horses.

“We have phenomenal horses,” Mr. Slayton said. “Our horses are impeccably kept, well trained and stand out in a crowd. Even at the Stockyard Parade we get comments.”

Vintage Carriage Rides is most popular around Christmas times, but offers rides all year long.

According to Mr. Slayton, the company offers around 500 to 700 rides per year. Although he has never counted, business booms around Christmas time and one-third of the business is during the holiday season.

The Highland Park carriage rides begin at Highland Park Methodist Church, then to Abbott Avenue, St. Johns Drive, Beverly Drive, Princeton Avenue, Dartmouth Avenue, Sewanee Avenue and back to Abbott Avenue.

Julia Kitziger, a sophomore at University of Georgia and alumna of Highland Park High School, goes on the Christmas tour every year.

“My favorite thing about the carriage rides are spending time with my family, drinking hot chocolate and bundling up under the blankets while looking at the Christmas lights,” Kitziger said.

Kitziger moved to Highland Park from New Orleans in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina. The Christmas carriage ride has been a tradition of her family’s ever since they moved to Dallas.

“Vintage Carriage Rides has always provided such a memorable time for my family,” Kitziger said. “The driver was super engaging with everyone and they even take your picture at the end.”

One-hour tours begin began in November and go on every evening except for Christmas Eve. You can reserve evening tours at 5:45 p.m., 7 p.m., 8:15 p.m. and 9:30 p.m..

For more information on tours, visit their website.

Student Foundation Brings in the Holiday Season

December 2, 2010 by · Comments Off 

By Anna Kiappes

The day starts bright and early and so does the crew. Men are lifted across Dallas Hall like passing clouds across the sky. Strings of lights fall down the building’s columns like a shower of stars. It is not long before the columns shimmer in the sunlight as if they had been dusted with glitter. The trees nearby have snakes of lights wound tight around their branches and trunks.

Students begin to wander to classes after weekend activities, but the crew from Facilities Management and Sustainability brings SMU’s annual Celebration of Lights to the forefront of students’ minds.

Holiday lights line the trees on the main lawn days before the Celebration of Lights. (PHOTO BY ANNA KIAPPES / SMU DAILY MUSTANG)

Celebration of Lights is held annually the Sunday before finals week. The celebration is meant to welcome the holiday season with the lighting of the Christmas lights on campus. Mark Miller, the founding president of Student Foundation, came up with the idea of the event in 1977.

Miller established an endowment for Celebration of Lights in 1999 before his death in 2007. The account collects the interest off his original donation. Though it does pay for some, the endowment does not support all of the celebration. Right now the celebration is supported by Student Foundation, Student Senate and the President’s office, but Student Foundation plans for the day when it will be self-sufficient.

“Our goal is that one day [the endowment] will fully fund the program,” Dawn Norris, director of Student Activities and Multicultural Student Affairs said.

Miller also started the tradition of the celebration being planned and run by the students.

“From our general members, to the Campus Events committee, the Student Foundation Board and Exec, we strive to make Celebration of Lights a success,” Campus Events Chair Staci Talamonti said. “Celebration of Lights could not happen without every single member’s voice and hard work. The event is a true reflection of the spirited work of the entire 100 member organization and it could not happen without any one person.”

The plans for Celebration of Lights begin in August and take most of the fall semester to put everything together, from the entertainment to the food served. The Student Foundation plans for upwards of about 3,000 students, faculty and residents around SMU to come.

“The campus events committee meets once a week in a separate committee meeting after the general member meeting to plan the event and countless hours are dedicated to planning during any given week in the fall semester,” Talamonti said.

Miller’s original ideas of coming together and celebrating the holiday season have played major parts in the celebration for the past 33 years.

“I would say that Celebration of Lights is a pretty consistent event and no major changes have taken place over the years,” Vice President of Programming Cathleen Good said. “The event is centered around President Turner reading The Christmas Story, carols being sung and Dallas Hall being lit up with lights.”

Source: Student Foundation

Students also take this time to reach out to the community to bring joy to local children. The Student Foundation created a partnership program with children attending Cesar Chavez Elementary School.

“Every year, we bus in kids from Cesar Chavez. This year there are 50 and all are sponsored by SMU students: they meet each other, see the Celebration of Lights together and give the kids a present,” Norris said. “It’s a great opportunity for those kids to get to see SMU and a great example of how generous SMU students can be.”

Celebration of Lights is an event that also leads students to get involved and join Student Foundation.

“I have always wanted to be involved with Celebration of Lights since first learning about it as a high school senior applying to SMU,” Talamonti said. “I love all things related to the holiday season and being chosen as the campus events chair was and is a huge honor and joy. We work diligently with all of the Student Foundation members to make Celebration of Lights not only a successful event, but a reflection of the holiday spirit that every member has.”

Many of the Student Foundation members and staff have special memories of the event, whether it is attending the celebration with family or just the joy of being there.

“That day is my favorite day on campus all year,” Norris said. “I have been here for 10 years and my favorite moment is flipping the lights. I love the lights flipping during everyone singing “Silent Night” and everyone going “Ohhhh and Ahhh” at the lights.”

As the days begin to get shorter and colder, the Facilities Management and Sustainability crew continue to string and test lights on and surrounding Dallas Hall. The feel of the holidays weaves its way through the lights and decorations and into the hearts and minds of SMU students, faculty and staff.

Students Get Study Break at ‘Celebration of Lights’

December 8, 2008 by · Comments Off 

Read more

Arts Beat: Rockefeller Christmas Tree Lighting

December 4, 2008 by · Comments Off 

Posted by Casey Gibeaut

Wednesday night marked the 76th time in as many years that the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center has lit up. NBC hosted a special show including many of today’s top performing stars to kick off the holiday season.

I found it interesting that with all of the buzz surrounding Britney Spears and her big come back from the last few days, she was only allowed to host and introduce guests, but not sing a Christmas song.

I will say that the performances this time were much superior to the American Music Awards last week. Miley Cyrus played it safe by performing a rendition of “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” while the Jonas Brothers sang some song about love – something they clearly don’t have much experience with as they have not even reached the age of 18.

Tony Bennett and Harry Connick Jr. performed songs in more of a jazz style which I found boring but I’m sure appealed more to the older generation. Faith Hill sounded a little bit hoarse but I had read that she was sick the entire week and Beyonce did a really pretty version of Ave Maria.

Overall, a well performed and cheery way to start the Christmas season.