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Photo courtesy of Six Flags Over Texas

Adrenaline junkies, get in line and prepare to get drenched: The long-awaited new Aquaman: Power Wave water coaster is officially opening at Six Flags Over Texas on March 11.

The revolutionary new roller coaster is touted as the first of its kind in North America.

It's a multi-launch "water coaster" that propels riders in two 20-passenger boats back and forth along a 2,000-foot track and up two 150-foot towers. Then, riders are held, face down, at 90 degrees before being thrust 63 miles per hour straight down.

Then, splash! The ride comes to a thrilling end with a plunge into a giant water wave. (Watch a video demo of it here.)

Aquaman: Power Wave is Six Flags Over Texas' 14th coaster.

Aquaman: Power WaveAquaman: Power Wave will be open during Scream Break evening hours.Photo courtesy of Six Flags Over Texas

Its grand opening comes in conjunction with Six Flags’ spring break week, including special "Scream Break" evening events.

Scream Break will take place every night from 9 pm-12 am, March 11-18. Visitors who aren’t afraid of the dark can experience two haunted houses, a designated scare zone, a freakshow, and other spooky activities that are unavailable in the daylight.

Richard Douaihy, the president of Six Flags Over Texas, says in a release that spring break is one of the best times during the year to visit the park.

“We are always filled with joy to see legions of fans and their families creating lasting memories at our park, and the classic Spring Break and new Scream Break events are sure to deliver such moments,” he says.

Besides Aquaman: Power Wave, other thrilling amusement rides such as Mr. Freeze (which is celebrating its 25th anniversary at the park) will also be open at night.

Nighttime attractions that will be available during Scream Break include:

  • Aquaman: Power Wave
  • Batman: The Ride
  • Catwoman Whip
  • Mr. Freeze
  • The Riddler Revenge
  • Texas SkyScreamer
  • Arania’s Murder Mansion haunted house
  • Labsics classified haunted house
  • Killer Clowns Scare Zone
  • Freakshow – The Ringmaster Presents

Scream Break tickets can be purchased separately or added to any single-day ticket or pass for $39.99 per person. Tickets can be found at sixflags.com.

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The Alamo previews awe-inspiring new exhibit ahead of 2024 debut

REFIGURE THE ALAMO

Ask first-time visitors about their experience at the Alamo, and you're likely to hear a frequent refrain: the grounds are so small. But that's slowly changing with ambitious plans to bring the site's original footprint back to life.

Starting May 25, visitors have been getting a sneak peek at the complex's newest structure, the Mission Gate and Lunette exhibit, before it officially opens in 2024. Funded in part by a $3 million donation from the Joan and Herb Kelleher Charitable Foundation, the exhibition gives guests a broader understanding of the Alamo's scale.

The historical re-creation was crafted by lauded San Antonio artist Carlos Cortés. A third-generation concrete faux bois artisan, his work is featured throughout the city, most notably on the River Walk, where his fantastical The Grotto greets thousands of Museum Reach visitors each year.

The life-size sculpture stands in for the original main gate of the fort at the southern boundary of the complex. Cannons and placards scattered throughout give crucial context to the structure. Though early renderings show the beams and spiked fence with more verisimilitude, the forms currently stand in ghostly concrete — inviting quiet contemplation.

When the exhibit is finished next year, guests will be more fully immersed in the hallowed grounds, which extend far beyond the walls of the iconic Church and Long Barrack. Coupled with the upcoming Alamo Visitor Center and Museum and the recently debuted Ralston Family Collections Center, it will turn the grounds into one of Texas' most awe-inspiring historic sites.

"We are deeply grateful to the Joan and Herb Kelleher Charitable Foundation for their support of the Alamo and our ongoing efforts to preserve this important piece of Texas history," says Kate Rogers, Executive Director of the Alamo Trust, Inc., in a release. "Their generosity will allow us to continue to educate and inspire visitors from around the world, ensuring that the legacy of the Alamo lives on for generations to come."

Alamo Mission Gate and Lunette exhibit

Photo courtesy of the Alamo.

The Mission Gate and Lunette exhibit gives visitors an understanding of the original grounds' scale.

44 new Dallas debutantes begin Presentation Ball prep with glam parties and glorious gowns

Meet the DSOL debs

With the start of summer vacation came the beginning of the 2023-2024 Dallas Symphony Orchestra League debutante season - even though it seems like just yesterday that the 2023 debs were Texas-dipping into society.

The DSOL introduced 44 new debs during Announcement Weekend festivities, May 18-20, in Dallas. Their parties, philanthropy, and training will culminate with the 38th Presentation Ball on February 10, 2024.

The mega-weekend began with the Announcement Party, emceed by Stan Gardner, at Dallas Country Club on the evening of Thursday, May 18. The next day, a deb and Honor Guard family dinner was held at the El Fenix downtown. Stanley Korshak hosted a couture gown show at the Bridal Salon on Saturday morning, May 20, and Patti Flowers Design Studio presented custom gowns that afternoon. (Per tradition, each deb will wear a white ballgown to her Presentation Ball.)

The 2024 Presentation Ball is under the guidance of chair Kristin Cordiak and DSOL President Nancy Labadie. Both women will lend special expertise to this year's debs: Kristin’s daughter Bronwyn made her debut in 2018 and her son Newt was an Honor Guard this year. Nancy was Ball Chair in 2016 and her son Will was an Honor Guard in 2015. Her daughter-in-law Lizzie was a debutante in 2013.

"The Dallas Symphony Orchestra League Presentation Ball has celebrated music and family for 38 years,” says Cordiak, adding that the 2024 debs "each add to the beautiful tapestry of the event as they embark on a lifelong journey of philanthropy.”

Now, for the most important part. The 2024 debutantes are: Helena Breland Bach; Erika Mae Batson; Mia Lane Blanton; Claire Elise Cahoon; Ellie McClain Gidden; Ripley Elizabeth Cooley; Kennedy Claire Downing; Electra Wallace Ford; Sarah Rose Gambrell; Catherine Lee Grayson; Camille Anne Greening; Meredith Elizabeth Hallam; Grace Soleil Handler; Caroline Parker Hart; Catherine Bradford Hunt; Isabella Ann Jackson; Ashley Elizabeth Jaynes; Ellen Taylor Jones; Minje Kwun; Emannuelle Grace Le Voyer; Claire Michael Levy; Riya Kaur Luthra; Elizabeth Myers Madison; Avery Pilar Moore; Finley Elizabeth Nelson; Day Gilmer Nettle; Lillian Susan Nettle; Mina Hiranmayee Raj; Bailey Erin Robirds; Courtenay Christianson Sands, Kathryn Bunker Sands; Caroline Robertson Smith; Sheridan Michelle Spencer; Caroline Story Stiles; Leslie Katherine Swango; Caroline Parker Teegarden; Payton Grace Thurman; Megan McKamy Dyer Underwood; Lauren Alexis Watkins; Charlotte Nicole Webb; Kelley Caroline Wheeler; Abigail Archer Willingham; Claire Anh Wooley; and Sophia Corina Yung.

Honor Guard officers presenting the debutantes for the Announcement Party were Conner Olson, John Liptack, Matthew Melcher, Eric Hirschbrich, Nicholas Arnold, Philip Jenevein, Wyatt Awtrey, Vance Miller, Thomas Liu, and Stefan Fischer.

Debs' parents and other relatives in attendance at the launch events included Laura and Jason Downing (whose daughter Kennedy is the third debutante in the family making her debut); The Hon. and Mrs. Alphonso Jackson, John and Kristina Hallam, Dena and Vaughn Miller, Elizabeth and Eric Gambrell, Cameron and Clay Smith, Suzanne and Adam Stiles, Kathryn Wheeler, Kelli and Gerald Ford, Gayle Sands, and many more.

The Assembly, a group of former debutantes who assist the Symphony League by helping with event arrangements throughout the season, was represented by Perrin Griffin, Bronwyn Cordiak, Allie McWhorter, Katie Kottwitz, Emily Stone Young, Ava Heppner, Maddy Duvall, Maddi Hendrick, and Samantha Sullivan.

The presentation of Dallas Symphony debutantes is a time-honored tradition for many of Dallas' most influential and philanthropic families. The debs are of college age and typically are graduates of Dallas-area high schools, but may be attending college out of the area.

Participation is open to all young women. Much like a sorority, participants pay fees and participate in parties, fundraisers, classes, and other events throughout the year, all leading up to the Presentation Ball.

The Presentation Ball, which was first held in 1987, is the largest fundraiser for the DSOL. Over $15 million has been raised for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra through the annual black- or white-tie event.

Founded in 1946, the DSOL's mission is to support the Dallas Symphony Orchestra through service, education and fundraising activities. Since 1998 the League has contributed over $22 million in support of the DSO's many community initiatives.

Dallas Symphony debutantes 2023-24

Photo by James French

Debutante Lauren Watkins (center) with grandparents Alphonso and Marcia Jackson

Plano makes top 5 on list of best cities in the U.S. to raise a family

List News

A study proves what Plano residents already know: that the Collin County city is one of the best places to raise a family.

The list of "2023’s Best & Worst Places to Raise a Family," done by personal financial website WalletHub, ranks Plano in the top five cities, as follows:

  • 1. Fremont, California
  • 2. Overland Park, Kansas
  • 3. Irvine, California
  • 4. Plano, Texas
  • 5. South Burlington, Vermont

WalletHub compared 182 cities across the U.S., using five criteria: Family Fun, Health & Safety, Education & Child Care, Affordability, and Socio-economics.

Plano earned high marks for its socioeconomics (factors like divorce rate, unemployment, and home foreclosures), health & safety (factors such as air quality, number of pediatricians, and access to healthy food), and affordability.

The results of this latest 2023 survey are similar to one conducted in 2022, with four of the five top cities, including Plano, returning to make the list again this year.

WalletHub is not alone in its admiration of Plano; a similar study by StorageCafe in 2022 ranked Plano the No. 1 city in the U.S. to raise a family, with excellent public schools, reasonable cost of living, fantastic parks system, and safe and clean environment being cited as factors.

Plano is the highest ranking city Texas on the WalletHub list, but 15 other Texas cities also get a mention, including six other DFW-area cities: Grand Prairie (No. 51), Irving (No. 85), Fort Worth (No. 90), Arlington (97), Garland (98), and Dallas (138).