TI retirees and their spouses flocked to the Plano Centre Sept. 30 for a Fair time. This year’s Big Event, themed “A County Fair,” drew an estimated 2,000 attendees and offered everything from a carnival midway to such county fair staples as cotton candy and hot popcorn.
More than 32 exhibitors, ranging from AARP to the SPCA to Dallas Community College, kept fair-goers busy at their booths. There were also plenty of fun and games on hand. “The number one priority of our planning team was for retirees to have fun,” says Max Post, chairman of the Steering Team. “I thoroughly enjoyed the event, and I think everyone else did. It was great to visit with friends who have retired, and also we enjoyed visiting with all the TIers who took time to be with us and the TI volunteers who helped throughout the day.”
In one room, visitors packed in to get their flu and pneumonia shots, and free glaucoma testing was offered throughout the event. Another large room, sponsored by the Texins, provided nutrition and fitness tips—and even a little massage therapy. Live entertainment included a magician, accordion player, banjo player, barbershop quartet and even a caricature artist. The array of offerings earned hearty approval from those attending. “I think this is just great,” said Jerry Stovall, who was attending his first TI event since his retirement.
He was lured out to the event through his involvement with the Dallas Trekkers, a local walking club, which sponsored a booth at the Big Event. “They asked me to come and help run the booth,” he explained. “I hadn’t been to anything like this since I retired, and I’m having a great time! It’s been a really good opportunity to see some people I haven’t seen in a really long time. I’m glad I’m here.”
Old friends seemed to be the overriding theme of the day. Hugs and handshakes were exchanged frequently as former co-workers shared the day together once again. “This is only the second time I’ve been to one of these, and it’s just overwhelming,” exclaimed attendee Joyce Parker. “There are so many people that I used to know that I’ve run into. I wanted to come out here to see some people and to hear Scott Burns. I’ve gotten to do both.”
Joyce wasn’t the only one who came out to hear Scott Burns. The nationally syndicated financial news columnist was the keynote speaker, and his event drew a standing-room-only crowd of 1,500. Additional monitors and tables in another room accommodated the overflow crowd. Scott combined his dry wit with his financial know-how to offer an informative but often entertaining look at the financial implications of retirement. Max said that the columnist’s presence added greatly to the Big Event. “The biggest difference this year was the huge interest in Scott Burns’ financial presentation,” he pointed out. “This is the first time in a long time that we have included an outside speaker, and the response was very favorable — highlighting the interest retirees have in learning more about investing and finance.”
Other presentations receiving a warm reception were “Con Games Affecting Senior Citizens,” made by Det. S.M. Haines of the Dallas Police Department, and a program on “Xeriscaping,” which was made by Vanessa Joseph of the Dallas Water Department. In addition, TI executives were on hand to answer questions about “Today’s TI.” The computer age made its presence known at the event, with the unveiling of the TI Alumni Website and demonstrations of how it works. For those wanting to merge onto the information superhighway, Plano SeniorNet offered classes on computer basics and Internet basics.
Some of the people returning to the Big Event were veterans of the annual get-together, and said they plan their calendars around it. Terecia Price has attended every annual event since her retirement in 1991, and now she wouldn’t miss it for the world. “I just come here to see old friends that I don’t get to see since I retired,” she said. “It’s so nice that they do something like this for us. Each one of these has been exceptional, this one included. It makes us feel like TI is still thinking about us.”
That spirit filled the air as old friendships were renewed and new acquaintances were made. Even observers noted the energy of the day. “I think the people have been really enthusiastic, and it’s obvious that this is really appreciated , ” observed Bob Alexander, who was manning the AARP booth. “We’ve had a lot of people come by and talk to us. These are people who are making the transition from the world of work to the world of usefulness. Retirement is so much different today; now it’s become a time to serve, not be served, and to explore some brand new things. “Those are the kinds of people we see out here today.”
There was even a little romance in the air. Andrea and Jesus Carillo celebrated their 58th wedding anniversary the same day as the Big Event, and they spent the day looking up Jesus’ former coworkers. As far as anniversary celebrations go, Andrea said she had no complaints. “It’s a good way to spend the day. We come to all of them — you never know who’s going to be there, so you don’t want to miss them.”
But for those who did miss the event, take heart — there’s always next year.