THE HISTORY OF LONE STAR HOLIDAYS
In 2008, shortly after the conclusion of the Conroe Workshop, the planners for that event began discussing the positives and negatives of several of the Christmas decorating groups.
Most were largely based in online communication, even if they held an annual or bi-annual gathering. While some groups met locally, there often was not much happening in the way of true learning and over time it seemed that the same folks were attending and very few new people were coming into the fold.
There were also some discussions about governing such a group. How could decisions be made? Who would make them? How could every person in the organization ensure that their voice was heard?
There were a lot of tough talks and back-and-forth about these issues and a lot of interesting perspectives came to the surface. On the foundation of those discussions, a decision was made to start something new: Lone Star Holidays.
A few of our guiding values were (and still are):
The group would include Texans as voting members, and people from outside of the state as non-voting members. This ensures that the good of the organization was always Texas-centric.
Elected Officers would make up the main decision-making body of the Board of Directors. At a minimum, elections would be held every two years.
The focus of the group would be building personal, face-to-face relationships. To that end, we determined that regular workgroups would be organized with set topics in place.
With these guiding values in place, things moved rapidly…
The first piece of the puzzle was to establish Lone Star Holidays as a registered non-profit organization within the State of Texas. For that to happen we needed to have three Directors named, who essentially held the ownership of the corporation. Chris Vyvial, Jeff Womack, and Ryan Johnson stepped into those roles. However, they did not want to simply have an organization that they were in charge of; they wanted a truly democratic organization.
The Directors asked several of the most active and respected decorators in Texas to step into an officer role for the first year. Their responsibility was to establish some groundwork for Lone Star Holidays and carry the new organization through its first year. Clyde Dearing from Montgomery was appointed as President, Harrison Ward from Flower Mound was placed as Vice President, Anthony Vetrano from Houston assumed the role of Treasurer, and a member from San Antonio completed the team as the Secretary. Along with Ethan Gekoski and Scott Young, who accepted the roles of Forummaster representative and Webmaster respectively, the Board gathered for the first time in January 2009 to lay-out the schedule and framework for the remainder of the year.
2009 saw Lone Star Holidays workgroups in Houston, Lavernia, Tyler, Kyle, and Grand Prairie. A variety of holiday-related topics were facilitated by some of our most knowledgeable members. Approximately seventy of our members attended at least one workgroup during the first year, with many traveling to other cities to share and learn from one another.
Our first Officer Elections concluded in the summer of 2009 and Philip Pyle from Kyle was elected Vice President when Harrison Ward chose to step down as an officer. All of our other officers were nominated and retained their positions within the Board. We believe we are the only holiday decorating group to hold elections in this manner and it is just another example of the true democratic nature of your organization.
The spirit of relationship-building continued as we held the largest event of our young history: the 2009 Lone Star Holidays Academy. The inaugural Academy was a fulfilling and exciting time for everyone who attended. With several vendors on hand and over 20 classes, the 80+ attendees had the opportunity to come together and close out our first year with a bang.
2010 continued the trend of holiday workgroups, with events held in Spring, Pleasanton, Dallas, Richmond, and Austin. These workgroups covered a myriad of topics and continued the trend of education and socialization.
In May of 2010 the Secretary position was resigned and Deborah Huitt from Houston was named by the Board to complete the vacated term. In addition Jeff Trykoski of Frisco accepted an invitation to join the Director team.
In June of 2010, the second Lone Star Holidays Academy took place with over 150 attendees converging on Houston for another two day event built around learning from some of the best decorators in the area. 2010 closed out the year with our first LSH Boot Camp, a one day event held in Jersey Village which focused on the beginner decorator and how they could make an impact that same year in their displays.
Our organizational growth took another step in the fall of 2010 with the creation of the Regional Development Committee. This group, made up of over 20 decorators from all across the state, was charged with expanding their local membership, spearheading new events in their geographic area, and working together to help build Lone Star Holidays as a whole. The success of this group led to many different events throughout 2011 and continued our commitments to learning, socializing, sharing, and growing.
For the second time, Lone Star Holidays held open elections for its Board of Directors in the summer of 2011. Over 17 members were nominated for officer positions, with 9 of them accepting their nominations. The ballots cast in 2011 were more than double those of 2009, showing once again how committed our members are to our community and how it is governed. Jack Mayes (Wharton TX) was elected President, William Talbot (Buda TX) was named as Vice-President, Ethan Gekoski (Seabrook) moved to the Secretary role, Anthony Vetrano (Houston) was re-elected to the Treasurer position. With Ethan’s election Harrison Ward from the forum admin team was elected by his co-admins to represent them on the Board of Directions as the Forummaster Representative. In addition, Scott Young was once again named by the Board to act as the Webmaster for our LSH websites. Also, for the first time, a representative from the RDC was elected (by the committee members) to represent the group in all of the official votes of the company.
The Lone Star Holidays 2011 Academy returned to the Lone Star Convention Center in Conroe for another multi-day event. Shortly after the conclusion of the event, DIY Light Animation reached out to join forces with Lone Star Holidays to create the very best holiday event ever. From those discussions the wheels began turning on the 2012 edition.
July of 2012 saw the largest holiday event in the United States once again, as the doors opened on Academy 4. This was a collaborative effort that involved Lone Star Holidays, DIY Light Animation, and the Dallas/Fort Worth Friends of Halloween. With over 250 attendees and 50+ classes, the 2012 edition was dubbed “the Ultimate Academy” and it certainly delivered. For the first time ever, we took a chance and opened registration on the second day of the event for the 2013 Academy. The response was overwhelming, with the Lone Star Convention Center contracted, a half dozen vendors already signed on, and almost 100 attendees registered in the first week.
2013 saw Lone Star Holidays hold open elections for its Board of Directors once again. Clyde Dearing (Montgomery TX) was elected President once again after taking a 2 year term off, Larry McGough (Fort Worth TX) was named as Vice-President, Ethan Gekoski (Seabrook) moved to the Secretary role and Jim Hall (Coppell) was elected to the Treasurer position. In addition, Scott Young was named by the Board to act as the Marketing Director. With the disbanding of the Regional Development Committee the representative formerly appointed to the Board was removed.
The 2013 Academy once again set the standard for our events. DIY Light Animation and the DFW Friends of Halloween joined forces with us to bring the best in holiday events. 13 Street Morgue, a large haunt attraction from the Dallas/Fort Worth area, presented over a dozen classes to make Halloween to became an even bigger part of the Academy. We again filled the Lone Star Convention Center with attendees and vendors and opened registration for 2014 at the close.
2014 brought the Academy back to the Lone Star Convention Center and we continued the standard of excellence in our education. 15 vendors- some new and some old friends- were on hand to show off and sell their products. The success of the Academy continues to simply amaze us and we cannot wait for the 8th event, a true milestone for any group.
As we move into the future, Lone Star Holidays continues to grow and our members build new relationships which is what this group has always been about. The Directors and Officers of the Board know that it is truly because of our members that Lone Star Holidays is successful and it is each of them who make organization what it is.
Happy EVERYTHING from everyone at Lone Star Holidays!