In 2001 a group of Plano band moms created an event to raise funds to meet a $25,000 deficit, and now, with grown, married kids, they still help with the event today
In 2001, the Plano West Band was entering its second year, and Plano West Senior High was just three years old. The band, which consisted of 75 band members that year, was facing a budget deficit of approximately $25,000. Following a booster club meeting one evening, Booster Club President Jodi Kimmelman turned to booster club fundraising chair Betty Langfitt and said, “Betty, what are we going to do?” And that was the beginning of Snowflake Bazaar, a holiday shopping event open to the community with more than 100 vendors, food, and fun, now entering its 15th year and still supported by the very ladies who founded it.
“The inspiration for Snowflake Bazaar actually originated in O’Fallon, Illinois,” said Langfitt. “I had gone there to visit my godson, and at his school I attended a similar event, featuring vendors selling a variety of items,” said Langfitt. “I thought what about bringing this to West? I knew we could do it successfully, and we did, surpassing the fundraising goal and raising $30,000!”
The very first Snowflake Bazaar was set for a weekend in mid-October. After many months of hard work, securing the perfect vendors, planning set up, food, and many other logistics, everything was falling into place.
“We had wonderful band parents working on it all,” added Langfitt. “We even had a dad who made a booth template out of PVC pipe that is still used today to tape off the booth areas on the floor. It truly took a village to put it all together.”
On the morning of September 11, 2001, Langfitt awoke to attend a Snowflake Bazaar planning meeting at the school and discovered what the rest of the country was also watching on their TV screens. Planes had crashed into the twin towers, the Pentagon, a field in Pennsylvania, and the world was changed forever.
“I thought, well, I have to go to school and to that meeting,” said Langfitt. “At school, the kids were all watching the news coverage on TVs, but were not released. The administrators kept them there so the teachers could talk with them about what was happening. The booster meeting was cancelled that night. I also remember the football game we had in Lewisville on Friday of that week. It was the first day that the flight ban had been lifted, and during the game we saw planes flying over the stadium. For everyone, it had been such a terrible time, and we all have such vivid memories.”
“With the Bazaar just a few weeks away in mid-October, we just didn’t know how the tragedy of 9/11 would affect it,” added Langfitt. “Crafters very quickly put together some patriotic items. I bought a patriotic bracelet at the bazaar that I still have today. We were worried about attendance and whether anyone would come and shop, but as we stood there that Saturday morning, they began to stream into the doors. We found that people needed each other and wanted to be together, feel some joy and get out of the house. It’s a memory I will never forget.”
The 15th Annual Snowflake Bazaar, the largest fundraiser for the Plano West High School Band, is scheduled for Nov. 5 (9 a.m. – 5 p.m.) and Nov. 6 (12 p.m. – 5 p.m.) in the Plano West Senior High School Cafeteria, 5601 W. Parker Road, Plano, TX 75093 (between Preston and the Dallas North Tollway). ADMISSION IS FREE. More than 100 booths at this year’s bazaar will feature seasonal items, floral design, gourmet specialties, jewelry, toys, candles, home accessories, ladies and children’s apparel, personalized items, handbags, shoes and more. The Snowflake Café will be serving lunch items, beverages, and mini Nothing Bundt Cakes. Plano West Band members work the event throughout the weekend along with many volunteers.
Fifteen years ago band booster parents Jodi Kimmelman, Betty Langfitt, and Maggie Mistretta were under the direction of Band Director James Hannah, who is still acting band director today. The group enjoys returning to the bazaar and working as volunteers, shopping with their favorite vendors, visiting with Mr. Hannah, and helping new band parents planning the popular event in any way they can.
“The band parents who brought this project to the Plano West Campus have not only been great parents, but amazing friends for the past 16 years,” said James Hannah, band director, Plano West. “Betty, Jodi, and Maggie, along with many of the booster club members during our formative years, understood the challenges we faced financially. These parents unselfishly devoted their time and effort ensuring the project was set up in such way that we would be able to generate revenue even to this day, and I am extremely grateful and proud of their long-standing legacy for the Plano West Band.”
“We have so many wonderful memories of working together on this event, and while our children are all now grown, working, and married, we have enjoyed keeping in touch over the years,” added Langfitt. “For our kids and for ourselves, Snowflake Bazaar was such a highlight of those years and a fun way to get teens involved. Some of our favorite vendors include the hand-painted Christmas ornaments, wooden holiday yard cutouts, the pajamas, napkin engraving, and other festive holiday items. We still enjoy volunteering the night before it opens, helping with vendor check-in, and seeing some of the event’s original vendors! It is important to each of us for this event to continue to succeed, and we encourage the community to come out, do a little shopping and help the band – always a great group of kids.”
“We are proud that the Snowflake Holiday Bazaar still has relevance in this community,” continued Hannah. “While the project does bring in wonderful revenue for the band program, it also continues to bring together our alumni and present band family once a year. For these reasons, I am eternally humble and proud of what our booster organization and students are able to accomplishment on an annual basis.”
The Plano West band has grown from 46 students in 1999 to over 200 hundred members today.
For more information, email email@example.com or visit www.planowestband.org.