The Bubble Lounge

Preserving Heritage, Honoring Community: Inside La Fiesta with Suzanne Brown Episode

June 07, 2024 Martha Jackson & Nellie Sciutto Season 7 Episode 24
Preserving Heritage, Honoring Community: Inside La Fiesta with Suzanne Brown Episode
The Bubble Lounge
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The Bubble Lounge
Preserving Heritage, Honoring Community: Inside La Fiesta with Suzanne Brown Episode
Jun 07, 2024 Season 7 Episode 24
Martha Jackson & Nellie Sciutto

This weekend is La Fiesta and so many people are getting ready for an incredible celebration. We wanted to re publish our episode with Suzanne Brown so you can listen and learn more about this amazing organization and all of the good they do year after year.

Last June, we have the pleasure of interviewing Suzanne Brown, Chair, of La Fiesta de las Seis Banderas, an organization deeply rooted in preserving heritage and serving the Park Cities community. La Fiesta began in 1986 with a mission to save the oldest house in Highland Park, and it has since blossomed into a community-wide organization that coordinates extraordinary events, including the renowned La Fiesta de las Seis Banderas Gala. This formal dinner and presentation honor the Duchesses and Escorts, representing the rich history of the Six Flags of Texas and the Park Cities.

Throughout the episode, Suzanne passionately shares how La Fiesta has impacted our community by supporting educational, charitable, and civic needs. Over the years, La Fiesta has disbursed over $10.2 million to various Park Cities charities, demonstrating their unwavering commitment to making a difference.

Tune in to the Bubble Lounge podcast episode featuring Suzanne Brown, Chair of La Fiesta, and discover the remarkable journey of La Fiesta de las Seis Banderas, its historical significance, and its vision for the future. 

To learn more about La Fiesta and to get involved visit www.lafiestaparkcities.com 

This episode sponsored by Kathy L Wall State Farm Agency and SA Oral Surgeons. To learn more about our sponsors visit Kathy L Wall State Farm Agency and SA Oral Surgeons

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

This weekend is La Fiesta and so many people are getting ready for an incredible celebration. We wanted to re publish our episode with Suzanne Brown so you can listen and learn more about this amazing organization and all of the good they do year after year.

Last June, we have the pleasure of interviewing Suzanne Brown, Chair, of La Fiesta de las Seis Banderas, an organization deeply rooted in preserving heritage and serving the Park Cities community. La Fiesta began in 1986 with a mission to save the oldest house in Highland Park, and it has since blossomed into a community-wide organization that coordinates extraordinary events, including the renowned La Fiesta de las Seis Banderas Gala. This formal dinner and presentation honor the Duchesses and Escorts, representing the rich history of the Six Flags of Texas and the Park Cities.

Throughout the episode, Suzanne passionately shares how La Fiesta has impacted our community by supporting educational, charitable, and civic needs. Over the years, La Fiesta has disbursed over $10.2 million to various Park Cities charities, demonstrating their unwavering commitment to making a difference.

Tune in to the Bubble Lounge podcast episode featuring Suzanne Brown, Chair of La Fiesta, and discover the remarkable journey of La Fiesta de las Seis Banderas, its historical significance, and its vision for the future. 

To learn more about La Fiesta and to get involved visit www.lafiestaparkcities.com 

This episode sponsored by Kathy L Wall State Farm Agency and SA Oral Surgeons. To learn more about our sponsors visit Kathy L Wall State Farm Agency and SA Oral Surgeons

Speaker 1:

Welcome to the Bub Lounge. I'm Martha Jackson and I have been thinking about what it was like when I was new to the Park Cities. Just how did I get involved? How did I meet people, how did I make those connections? And when I moved here, so many people said you have to join the Preschool Association, which of course I did, absolutely loved it.

Speaker 1:

There was the PTA. There were so many different ways to help raise money for the schools and different organizations, but one of the organizations that I've come across recently is La Fiesta, and they support so many different charities within the Park Cities. Everything goes back to entities in the Park Cities and that's what really makes it special and there are so many members of our community in it and it's a really great way to connect with people and get to reach out and get to know other people that you might not have met through the PTA or other organizations. I wanted to learn more about La Fiesta, so I invited Suzanne Brown, who is the Fiesta chair, and she's going to teach us more about the organization and just let us know how we can get involved. Suzanne, welcome to the show.

Speaker 2:

Thank you so much for having me over.

Speaker 1:

Of course. Well, I just noticed all the beautiful gowns were at the UP Public Library recently and they're just to die for, but I want to know the whole story behind the organization and how La Fiesta started?

Speaker 2:

Okay, it started back in 1986. And our founders, Linda Lee Adams and Pierce Allman and Jenny Reeves, were trying to save the oldest house in Holland Park from demolition and it all turned into a big fundraiser and then they ended up starting the gala, which was in 1986. They had six duchesses each representing one of the flags that had flown over the state of Texas, and they had it in the parking lot in a tent in Holland Park Village.

Speaker 1:

Oh, wow, yeah, and it has evolved to become what it is today, and tell us just kind of how it's evolved and what it's like now.

Speaker 2:

Okay, now we have 40 duchesses.

Speaker 1:

That's a big change.

Speaker 2:

Yes, and 40 escorts. So, yeah, it's just the size of it, the amount of money we've been allowed to able to raise. It's just been amazing, and the beneficiaries that benefit we get back to.

Speaker 1:

Well, so it started with the whole goal of preserving the oldest home in Highland Park. Is that home still here?

Speaker 2:

It is. It's the Park City's Heritage House at the Old City Park and of course we donate to that every year. It's obviously the number one beneficiary for La Fiesta.

Speaker 1:

And so, yes, you can go see it at Old City Park. So many years ago my daughter was dancing with Powerhouse and they performed out there and I don't remember that part of being out there that that was the oldest home from Highland Park. Yes, that is so cool yeah that place is really neat to go to, especially during the holidays.

Speaker 1:

Yes, it's all decorated and they have dancers and all sorts of people out there performing. It's a really special place to go. Yeah, place to go. Well, tell us about just what you've been able to do for the community, because I noticed you support a whole lot of different entities within our community and you've been able to really help them out. A lot.

Speaker 2:

Well, this year we had 19 beneficiaries and they're all affiliated with Park Cities in some form, and some top ones that come to mind is the Holland Park Education Foundation. We partner with them a lot as well as Connecting Point of Park Cities, both of the libraries, holland Park and University Park. Rye School, which is founded over at the YMCA and a nonprofit called To Be Like Me, and then some from the high school, like the Literary Festival from the Highland Park High School, as well as the Science and Technology Festival, are just a few of the organizations within the high school, Okay, well, so many of those we've had as guests on the show and we love supporting them as well.

Speaker 1:

So I love that you do that. Well, tell us a little bit about the gala. I mean, it's come a very long ways from being in a tent in Highland Park Village to what it is now. Tell us about the dresses and how you become a duchess and all that.

Speaker 2:

Okay, the original gala they did have festive gowns, and so now we don't have I mean, we have 40 and there's only six flags that have flown over the state of Texas. So we pick a country, that's our theme, and this year we had France, and so we kind of the gowns kind of tend to look like they're a little bit from France. They're just these beautiful ornate costume gowns and it's just lovely having them with the big petticoat and they get to do the lovely bow and the whole thing during the presentation.

Speaker 2:

So, it's a really lovely thing.

Speaker 1:

Well, so do they still do the dolls too. Yes, yes.

Speaker 2:

Thanks for mentioning the dolls. The dolls our preview luncheon is called. Well, it's a preview luncheon where the Duchess dolls are there and they replicate the girls' same hair color and eye color. But, more importantly, the gown is a replica of their actual gown they're going to wear at the gala.

Speaker 1:

Oh, wow.

Speaker 2:

So it's really fun. And then we have the sketch of the Duchess herself in her gown at the preview luncheon.

Speaker 1:

How nice. I remember years ago, before you started putting them at UP Public Library, they would just be around different stores in Snyder Plaza, right, yes? And I remember walking by and thinking, wow, those are so gorgeous. And what is this all about?

Speaker 2:

Yes, I know it brings a lot of awareness, for sure.

Speaker 1:

Well, something that we talked about earlier is that boys are involved in as well, and I always thought this was another mother-daughter organization. Tell us about the escorts and what role they play.

Speaker 2:

Well, they are involved. They're not as involved as, obviously, the duchess are, but they do play an important role. We do have events just for the escort moms and the escorts themselves. We do an event with Duchess mom and escort moms just different combinations of all the people that are participating, but yes, they're very present, especially at the gala. We need them. They escort the duchess once the duchess' dad hands her over to the escort and then they are escorted from the stage with their escort. So they do get to play a fun role. Do they do a special bow as well?

Speaker 1:

No, they don't.

Speaker 2:

They get to hand the duchess her rose.

Speaker 1:

Girls get to have all the fun, don't they? Yes, they do.

Speaker 2:

Well, tell me, how do you get to become a duchess? Well, you know it's invitation only, right. But there's just different ways to get involved In La Fiesta. That's why I always encourage people to get involved. We've got two membership drives. We've got the moms are the women and it's a guild and membership, and we have two different. You know there's annual fees that we use to give back to beneficiaries. If you want to be a voting member of the Guild, you need to live within the HPISD school district area boundaries. And then also the male membership drive is Order of the Flags, and that's where the men get involved and they have their own events too as well.

Speaker 1:

Oh, okay, wow, yeah. Something that we talk a lot about on the show is how philanthropic Dallas is. It's like one of the most generous cities with just the most kind hearted people that just want to do good in the world, and I love that so much. But of all the charities out there, why should we support La Fiesta?

Speaker 2:

I think the main thing is how much it gives back to the community, and it just brings the community together. One thing that our founders figured out was how much people want to get behind something, and that's what they realized. Everybody was trying to raise money for the house, and what they learned from that is our community loves to get behind a cause, and so they decided that's how La Fiesta started is they wanted to get behind a cause that could benefit long term, and that's when the gala started. It took six months of the idea and they implemented it six months later, and that's where the first one came, in 1986.

Speaker 1:

So anyway, yes, I just love that because I mean, I don't feel like the people of the Park Cities has changed a bit. Like you're right, we just need a cause and we are there.

Speaker 2:

And we are there. Yes, we are going to fight for it.

Speaker 1:

We're going to raise that money, we're going to make it happen. Yes, yeah, that's so great.

Speaker 2:

Well, so tell us our 38th year and I'm happy to say we've raised over $10.2 million thus far to give back just to the Park City's area and nonprofits within there. So we're real excited and very proud of that.

Speaker 2:

Well, I want to go back to this house because I am just picturing how much work it must have been to raise this house and take it down to Old City Park. Okay, our founders, linda Lee Adams and Pierce Allman and Jenny Reeves, wanted to save the oldest house in Highland Park that was built in 1907 and it was beginning to get demolished demolition and so they raised the money. That's where they had all the community involvement really get involved and raise the money and they moved it to Old City Park. But it was quite a process back in 1986 or 85 to do that.

Speaker 2:

And it was near Abbott and Lexington and to get all the electric wiring moved so they could move the house down Knox Street. And then it ended up running, taking so long and running so late. The poor house had to spend the night on Central Expressway, so then move it all the way to Old City Park the next day. So it's quite a story.

Speaker 1:

So they literally took the whole house, like they didn't take it in sections. I'm picturing this whole house on a truck going down the highway.

Speaker 2:

Yes, I mean, it was an old 1907. I mean, it wasn't just a huge home, but yes, that's exactly what they did. Oh my gosh, that is such a good story. Yes, it's so fun.

Speaker 1:

Obviously you're very passionate about La Fiesta. You're extremely involved. Tell me how you got so involved with it.

Speaker 2:

You know, about 10 years ago I had a friend wanting to say, hey, I'm doing this job in La Fiesta, do you want to do it with me? And I said sure, and I've just never looked back. I've done different jobs throughout the years and it's been really fun. I love meeting all the different people. You think you know a lot of people in the community and we do, but you meet even more through La Fiesta because everybody's involved in different ways and they all come together in La Fiesta to give back. And so, yeah, after wearing all the different hats through the years, it's been fun to get to know different people every year and I love it.

Speaker 1:

Well, you just mentioned hats, but you sent me a picture of you wearing this really interesting necklace. Can you tell us?

Speaker 2:

about that. Okay, it's a neat tradition about the La Fiesta chairs get to wear the necklace that has the six flags that have flown over the state of Texas and we wear it to every La Fiesta event. Our year that we're the chair and it's been really fun. Our founder, jenny Reeves, she'll come to the events and she'll have on her necklace as well and we've had a picture of people all the La Fiesta chairs who are at an event with their necklace on, taking pictures at the luncheon and stuff like that.

Speaker 1:

So it's a neat privilege and a great tradition and it was just a very fun, fun tradition. Well, I love how it took. Just one friend, you know, and that's really how it usually starts out with anything. It's just like one good friend that's passionate about something that says, hey, you want to do this with me. You're like, well, heck, yeah, and sometimes we don't have all the answers of what we're getting into, but if that friend is passionate, that's all it takes, right.

Speaker 2:

Yes, for sure, and you know it can serve different purposes, like I have one friend whose kids go to private school but lives in the Park Cities and it was her way of getting connected to the community, not through the schools but through La Fiesta. And I'm a new empty nester and so it's been great because that was an activity I could do even when the kids were out of the high school. I can keep doing La Fiesta because it wasn't connected to their involvement and so I. It can serve different roles and it's fun, I like that.

Speaker 1:

I didn't realize. You know, I just keep kind of, like I said earlier, I keep thinking it's a mother-daughter organization, but it just absolutely isn't.

Speaker 2:

You can stay in this for a lifetime, right yeah, because we want you know people who have all boys, we want them to be involved in La Fiesta too. So it's yeah, it's fun.

Speaker 1:

Well, it sounds like the perfect way to connect with the community. I've gone to a coffee before and there was, like you said, so many women that I always think I know everyone in Park City, but there was a lot of people I had never met before. And it was a really great opportunity. I've had the same experience for sure Of all the organizations that you've given money back to. Do you have any good stories of what they were able to do and make happen with the funds that you gave to them?

Speaker 2:

Yes, our allocations chair collects all the paperwork for people requesting money and then we also look back to see what all you know. They have specific asks and then we donate to that and then they let us know how it all turns out. So we kind of get to see where our dollars got to go and how we got to benefit the different organizations in the community.

Speaker 1:

And have you been able to go in person and take a look at it and just say you know what? Those are the fruits of our labor, like this is what we were able to do for these groups.

Speaker 2:

Yes, it's very fun. It's fun to go to the Rye School and see that's such a neat, neat school and I even went to the Literary Festival and met the author from there and Lafayette has to help fund for that. So that's just really fun to see what all Lafayette has done to everybody.

Speaker 1:

Well, the HP Lit Fest sounded amazing. I was out of town or there was some some reason I couldn't go, and Nellie, my co-host, was there speaking and I just really felt like I missed out because they did such an amazing job of selling it and just looking through that list of speakers, it just went on and on and I just can't imagine being a kid at that school and getting to participate in that.

Speaker 2:

Yes, for sure, for sure, you know. And we have our libraries, we give go back to our both of our the libraries, holland Park and University Park. So there's just, and they they do all kinds of storytelling activities this summer, with some of the money and just different things. It impacts everybody, all different age groups.

Speaker 1:

Okay, so you've all just wrapped up the season and now you're gearing up for the next season. I just can't like there's no downtime in between. It sounds like not really.

Speaker 2:

No, tell me how that works like, walk me through, starting now up until a year from now right now we're just in the process of getting um the 40 duchesses and escorts acceptances and then we start our season in the fall or we do some meetings in the fall for the duchess moms and escort moms and different things like that.

Speaker 2:

Our official season starts at the announcement party, which is in december, and we officially announce everyone, all the girl, all the duchess and escorts, and the real season is then the next spring. So, starting in february, we had an event, we have a couple in march, we have one april and then may and then the week of the gala. There are eight events. The week Starting in February, we had an event, we have a couple in March, we have one in April and then May and then the week of the gala. There are eight events the week of the gala, including the gala being the grand finale, the eighth event, and one of the events is the Guild Tea, which all of our Guild membership can come, and we enjoy having something for everyone in the women's membership. So, yes, it's really fun, it's exciting and it's a fun week and everybody, all the kids, have a great time and the parents do.

Speaker 1:

Now, when you actually become a duchess, it's when the girls have already gone to college, right?

Speaker 2:

Yes, good question. It's after their freshman year. Oh, okay, got it. So that's fun too, because they haven't seen each other for a whole year out of being out of the high school and then it's been a while and then get to come back together and get to see each other. We also do have people from private school as well, it's not just all public school kids. So, yeah, it's fun, it's a really great time. Everybody just has a ball Like literally, yeah, literally.

Speaker 1:

So I know you want everyone in the neighborhood to get involved.

Speaker 2:

But what about underwriting and corporate sponsors? Okay, we have two corporate underwriting chairs and two individual underwriting chairs. And the corporate underwriting you know they did a fabulous job this year and we had lots of sponsorships and we'd have title sponsors for all of our events and different sponsorships for different things for the event, like in the gala, you could be a sponsor of the Duchess Dressing Room or different components to it. It's a big event machine to run on the day of the gala. So we had lots of opportunities to get back for that day and that. So that's one way and we various dollar amounts, it just varies.

Speaker 2:

And then the individual underwriting is a letter campaign and like, if that's to me, I would encourage someone if they want to get involved, we need a lot of people on that campaign for that committee. I mean because we well, it's, and you don't have to, you don't have to solicit your friends. It's a letter campaign from a database that we already have and so you just get together and you write the letters, we handwrite our letters and you know, still do all that. We haven't lost sight of that, that way of communicating, and it's just. We need a lot of people to do that. So that's that's how I got started. I got started individual underwriting and did that for several years and then I started doing other things. So I encourage people to get involved that way, because we definitely have more volunteers and volunteer jobs. Is that right?

Speaker 2:

Yes, so it's a good problem, but we want people to be involved, if they want to be involved, you know, and so I always encourage them to start that route because it's we need.

Speaker 1:

That's a big committee sure I mean a lot of people. I actually don't think I've ever heard of that problem. Everyone usually has a assignment. Yeah, and all the organizations I've been a part of I know it's. It's just a big ship to run but like you said, it's a good problem to have. So where can we find you and how can we get involved?

Speaker 2:

Okay, the best thing is go look on our website and the women or the men can join through the website and the members of the guild or the Order of the Flags. And then I always encourage people to try to get involved in a volunteer job and, like I've already said, the individual underwriting is a good entry point if you're not already involved. And then, last but not Lakes is just donating. If you want to give back, if you want to do it through an individual underwriting way or for corporate sponsorship way, there's just different opportunities of that as well. And what is your website? Visit our website at lawfiestaparkcitiescom.

Speaker 1:

Perfect, well, that's how I joined. So it's easy enough guys. Yes, perfect. Well, that's how I joined. So it's easy enough, guys. Yes, well, suzanne, this has been such a pleasure. It's so nice to hear the background and the story of the house being moved and just how we got to this point.

Speaker 2:

Yes, it's quite a story, but it's got a great ending, absolutely.

Speaker 1:

Well, that's been another episode of the Bubble Lounge. I'm Martha Jackson, and we'll catch you next time.

La Fiesta
Supporting La Fiesta
Involvement and Impact of La Fiesta
Fundraising for La Fiesta Park Cities