Celebrate Waco provides fun for all

By Kat Worall
Staff Writer

Waco is constantly evolving. From new restaurants to the new stadium, there is a steady stream of new reasons to celebrate Baylor’s home, and the Waco Symphony Council is teaming up with local businesses and the City of Waco for a day of celebration.

Celebrate Waco is the fundraising event for the Waco Symphony Orchestra. The weekend event, which is part of “Weekend in Waco,” begins Friday night at 7:30 p.m. and continues throughout the day Saturday until 4 p.m. in downtown Waco on Austin Street.

Debbie Thornton, Waco Symphony Council’s president, and Shelly Phipps, the Celebrate Waco chair, have teamed up with their committees to create a special two-day event.

The event was originally formed as a tour of various lofts downtown, but soon grew from there, Thornton said.

“Our thought was, ‘What is going to bring people down here, besides touring the lofts?’” Thornton said. “What do people like to do? Eat and shop. So that’s what they can do — eat, shop and then tour. Things took off from there.”

From ‘20s themed parties to downtown loft tours to a downtown walk or run, Celebrate Waco can give participants several reasons to enjoy Waco this weekend.

Jay Gatsby Invites You to a Party

Celebrate Waco begins Friday night with “A Night With Gatsby,” a ‘20s themed party that aims to transform the Palladium into the speakeasy era.

“As you walk in, you’re supposed to feel transported into the ‘20s era,” Phipps said.

Nursel Birler Carroll, a local Turkish artist, will have some of her artwork, or as the event will call it, samples of “Jay Gatsby’s private collection,” on display.

Two of the pieces will be auctioned off in a silent auction while the others are for sale. Half of the proceeds will go towards the symphony.

Friday’s event will also give a first glimpse into one of the private homes across the street at 714 Lofts that will be shown in a tour Saturday morning.

There will also be a screening of the 2013 version of “The Great Gatsby” movie projected onto the Palladium’s walls during the event.

“There will be people there that are dressed in Gatsby theme and hopefully some Charleston dancing,” Phipps said.

The event begins at 7:30 p.m. and goes until 11 p.m. The 21 and up only event costs $65 and tickets can be purchased online at celebratewaco.eventbrite.com or at the door.

Downtown Diva Dash

Boas and tiaras are recommended — even for the men — for Saturday morning’s 9:30 a.m. one-mile Downtown Diva Dash. Participants will begin at the Hippodrome and walk or run around downtown Waco.

At the end, racers will receive a “blingy” medal, Phipps said, as well as an event T-shirt and mimosas with a complimentary champagne glass for racers 21 years and older.

“I would encourage people to dress up,” Phipps said. “It doesn’t mean you have to wear heels, but just dress up as much as you can. We are even encouraging the dudes to dash too.”

Event registration begins at 8:30 a.m. at the Hippodrome. It costs $45 for adults and $20 for children 18 and under. Tickets can be purchased online or at the race’s registration.

“Sharp Flats” Guided Loft Tour

Following the race, tour goers can get a sneak peek at three lofts in the Kress Building and two in 714 Lofts, as well as a behind-the-scenes hardhat tour of the Hippodrome.

The hour and 15 minute tour will be accompanied by snacks, beverages and music in each loft. The loft themes vary, Thornton said, as well as the beverage, snacks or music.

Participants will also receive a “swag bag,” Thornton said, a Celebrate Waco canvas tote bag full of a few items.

“It won’t be too full of goodies,” Thornton said. “That way they can purchase items from our sidewalk vendors.”

Sign-up for the tour begins at 10 a.m. at the Hippodrome with the last tour leaving at 3 p.m. Tickets costs $15 for adults, $10 for children ages 10 to 18, and can be purchased online or at registration.

Food Trucks and Merchant Vendors

Throughout the day, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., food trucks and merchant vendors will set up shop and line the streets of the 600 to 800 blocks of Austin Avenue.

“Merchants that are on the Austin Avenue are participating as well,” Phipps said. “They have been really great working with us.”

Food vendors will include Common Grounds, Sergio’s, Sironia Café, Nathan’s Hot Dogs and more. Congress Clothing, Amelia’s Fashion Exchange, Sironia, Hippie Chick and others will make up the merchants.
“It’s a variety, from children’s items to jewelry to clothes,” Phipps said.


Celebrate Waco will also have music playing throughout the event, from local street performers to Chris Lowe Band, the Union Revival and Lomelda on Celebrate Waco’s live music stage.
“There will be some music in the loft tours, the music on the live stage, activities going on throughout the day that will have its own specified music, and then maybe just a guitar player on the street,” Phipps said. “We are trying to mix the music into the entire event.”

For the Kids

There will also be a Children’s Creative Corner where kids can decorate cookies, make musical instruments and play games.
The event will be in the gated outdoor area outside of Metro and the cost for children is $5. It is free for Downtown Diva Dash participants.

Weekend in Waco Shuttle

Waco Chamber of Commerce has teamed up with Celebrate Waco to run a free shuttle to Saturday’s four events.

The shuttle will take visitors to Celebrate Waco from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Art on Elm Avenue from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Creative Art Studio and Theater’s Second Saturday Artisan Market from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; and the Waco Downtown Farmers Market from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Thornton and Phipps said they believe there is a lot to celebrate in Waco, such as the growth of downtown dining, shopping and living, and said they hope Wacoans and Baylor students alike will attend the event.

“The resurgence in what’s happening downtown with the close proximity to the campus and with the new stadium opening this fall, I feel like the time is right to celebrate what is going on in Waco and more specifically downtown Waco,” Thornton said.