Society / Featured Parties

Dallas’ 43 Club Brings the Magic of the White House to Texas

Young Professionals With a Social Conscience Mingle With Santa

BY // 12.11.19
photography Grant Miller for the George W. Bush Presidential Center

“(T)he old wilderness scenery and the old wilderness life are to be kept unspoiled for the benefit of our children’s children.” – Theodore Roosevelt

The George W. Bush Presidential Center’s 43 Club Holiday Party was a bash that surely would have brought a proud grin to Teddy Roosevelt’s face. Members celebrated the Center’s special exhibit, Holiday in the National Parks: Christmas at the White House 2007 exhibit, while recalling magical memories of time well-spent with family and friends in some of our greatest national treasures.

The exhibit, on display through January 5, reprises the themed Christmas decorations commissioned by Former First Lady Laura Bush that adorned the George W. Bush White House in 2oo7, and explores the living, enduring legacy of America’s National Parks.

About 150 members attended the 43 Club’s after-hours fête and enjoyed the opportunity to wander the exhibit and the museum’s permanent collection.

As for the 43 Club, the organization “brings together young professionals in the Dallas community for social gatherings, networking events and thought-provoking conversations,” says LeeAnna Ward, the regional director of Corporate and Foundation Relations for the Bush Center. “We offer our members a unique opportunity to engage with Bush Center experts and leaders on important policy and social issues of our time.”

At this particularly festive event, Santa Claus mingled with the crowd, while 43 Club members made merry reminiscing about their own experiences in our National Parks. Sipping hand-made cocktails and roasting marshmallows over a Coleman-esque indoor flame within the Bush Center atrium, campfire memories of family vacations, friendship, volunteerism and wildlife watching unfolded in the glow.

One such musing was between Garrett Berry and Kaitlyn McClew, who works in the Bush Center’s Office of Women’s Initiatives. The pair met in college, but their relationship reached new heights during a group hiking trip to Grand Canyon National Park.

“We definitely got a lot closer on that trip,” Berry says with a chuckle.

“When I fell behind on the hike, he stuck with me when a lot of others wouldn’t have,” McClew is quick to add.

The occasion also caused yours truly to dig out an artifact that I resurrect each holiday season: a commemorative booklet from Christmas at the White House 2007, during which I had the privilege of serving in the Bush Administration.

“From breathtaking landscapes to important historical sites, generations have marveled at God’s magnificent creation and cherished memories of visits to these special places,” reads a welcome message signed by President and Mrs. Bush on the booklet’s opening page.

Along with bringing back my own wonderful memories of seeing the halls of the White House so gloriously decked, the exhibit reminded me of the magical times I have shared with family and friends in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, when I swear I’ve felt the spirit of Teddy Roosevelt whispering in the Lodgepole pines and chortling down the canyon.

Speaking of Christmas magic, out of the many who were enjoying the festivities, I could find just one attendee who claimed to have visited all 61 of the country’s National Parks. His favorite?

“Don’t tell the elves,” he said, and his eyes, how they twinkled, “but nothing quite compares to a reindeer family reunion in Denali.”

Holiday in the National Parks: Christmas at the White House 2007, is open to the public and runs through January 5.

43 Club members in attendance included Eden Harkins, Blake Johnston, LeeAnna Ward, Betsy MartinAndrew Kaufmann, Matthew King, Susie and Brendan Kwiatkowski, Elaine and Brian FloresLauren Heydenreich, LaMia Wilson, and Beau Longino.

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