A Whitehouse festival spanning several decades will not have the usual glitz and glamour this year.
The YesterYear pageantry, coronation and ball and revue are off the table, organizers said. However, Mr. and Mrs. YesterYear will still be honored with a tea and participate in the holiday parade in December.
“I think (there is a) culture of little girls who would want to be princess, but (it was) difficult … getting (older girls) to commit, and once they did, it was hard for parents to have to ready for the pageant,” he said. The princess and ladies in waiting also fundraise for the organization.
The YesterYear change comes as organization members consider becoming a committee within the Whitehouse Area Chamber of Commerce rather than its own civic organization.
The chamber has agreed to take on YesterYear, which means the YesterYear Organization would dissolve, Regian said. The proposition will be presented at a meeting next week.
The civic group looked at other festival-type organizations in East Texas, and almost all are chamber-oriented, Regian said.
“It’s just gotten to the point where the same few people are doing the same things over and over. It got to a point where we needed to make a decision, (and) we just decided to look into (becoming a chamber committee) … I think YesterYear is of interest to the chamber. What we will try to do is continue that under their umbrella,” Regian said.
If YesterYear does become part of the chamber, the chamber would decide whether pageantry is brought back in the future.
In the meantime, the organization could decide to extend the nomination deadline for Mr. and Mrs. YesterYear at the next meeting.
“We’ve certainly had some wonderful honorees over the years — some very deserving folks…,” Regian said.
YesterYear began after Whitehouse High School seniors interviewed elderly community members, most of which were in their 70s, about their lives and life in Whitehouse for a class project, Linda Rash, a senior English teacher at the time, has said.
“We had a day where all (the people they) interviewed got to come to school, and each student presented the person they interviewed ...” Ms. Rash said last year. “From that, our goal was that the community would take that and go with it and do whatever, and it did from then on.”
The first event occurred on June 25, 1983, and “took you on a trip down nostalgia lane,” according to a YesterYear booklet.
Sightseeing tours in a mule wagon were available, and visitors could ride in antique cars or a horse and buggy, the booklet states.
The second celebration is described in the booklet as one that “turned back the hands of time” to choose Ms. YesterYear and duchesses in an auditorium. Clara Warren Phelps served as the first Ms. YesterYear, and money from the pageant and other YesterYear activities went toward funding the city library, Sylvia Reel, then-coordinator of the pageant, said in the booklet.
In the years since, organizers have taken away different things from the celebration.
Teresa Hughes has said that for her, the consistency of great performances in the revue talent showcase stands out.
One of her favorite themes was, “A glimpse of grandma’s garden.”
Susan Shivers, who helped with script writing, became involved with the celebration in 1999, one year before the revue was added.
“Some of the most fun times is when we’d get together, those of us writing the script, and we would try to make it very appropriate and specific to Whitehouse,” Ms. Shivers said last year. “It was always very lighthearted. It wasn’t meant to be serious at all. We would have a lot of fun writing scripts and intertwining the scripts with little tidbits of history from Whitehouse and little tidbits of some of the Whitehouse businesses that we’d intertwine in the scripts.”
Ms. Rash has said she’s pleased the community has gone so far with the event over the years and that the 1983 interviews can still be read in a published book.
“I have one of the books and looked at it often. So many we interviewed at the time have now passed on, but as long as the book is around, their story is still a part of it,” she said last year.
YesterYear Organization member Nancy Coats said Thursday she is privileged to have been part of YesterYear and believes the event is good for the community.