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The Oak Cliff Lions Club focused its fund raising activities, beginning in 1947, through the "Oak Cliff Lions Club Minstrel Show". Annually held at the now-historic Texas Theatre on Jefferson Avenue, members of the Club participated in "The Minstrel", complete with Mr. Interlocutor, End Men, the Chorus and even black faces. The Show brought huge crowds and raised thousands of dollars for charitable causes.
Among the Interlocutors were Dr. Sam T. Bailey and David R. Braden and stars of the Show included Seals Heard, Sam Monzingo, crooner Harry Westbrook, and the Dudley M. Hughes Quartet, to name a few. Music Hall of Famer Marion B. Snider was the longtime Music Director.
But times and the community changed and the Club abandoned the "Minstrel" format in 1969. The Club's Show then moved to the new Bronco Bowl Playhouse on Ft. Worth Avenue and in 1970 was officially re-named the Oak Cliff Lions Club "Extravaganza". Crowds continued to come and the Club continued to raise charitable funds through its new musical show. Fred Ferguson was the first "Extravaganza" Master of Ceremonies and Steve Bayless was Musical Director for the Lions Club Band/Orchestra. Stars of the "Extravaganza" were truly outstanding, including Tom Young* as "Dad Pearson" and "Penelope Prunewhistle"; Gordon Rea's annual vocal rendition of "San Francisco"; magician "Marvelous" Marvin Grantham; "Billy Big Body" Mitch Mitchell; multi-talented Ted Ferguson, Dr. Bill Lawhorn, Corky Harris and Dr. Parmer Richardson; father and son teams Carne and Dan Cunningham and Allison and Mark Snyder; vocal comedians "Jethro and Carlisle" ' Bill Sullivan and Karl Hoeffner, vocalist Wayne Meachum, the "Nitty Gritty Band" and duo piano players Bill Morgan and Ed White. Bill Eagle and his troops headed the concession stands, Ted Dempsey headed the Stage Crew, and O.N. Moffett led the Oak Cliff Lions Club Greeters.
With a ticket purchased to the "Extravaganza" also came the opportunity to win a new automobile and other great attendance prizes annually donated by Carl Moffat, Harold Bridges and others. "Here's The Deal" Harold Schackman was the perennial, prize-giving, Ticket Chairman.
The neighborhood around Bronco Bowl and Society changed, as did the Club, so the "Extravaganza" changed format and location once again.
In the 1990's and 2000's the site of the Show moved several times, Bishop Dunne High School, Townview Magnet School and W.E. Greiner Middle School. Marshall Hughes was Director for several years and Dr. Burt Bryan served as Master of Ceremonies. Lions' family members and non-Lions were allowed into the Cast, and new Club talent emerged. Bill Melton became Master of Ceremonies. Vocalists Michelle Metzger, Iris Smith, Paula Craig, Sara Kitto and Darla Wisdom and family, as well as multi-talented Sydney Allen, Carolyn Dunnigan, Jo Ann Holt, John McCall, Sr., Kathy Magers, John Dodd, Bill Smith, Charlie Tupper, J.B. Edwards, and Ann Washburn became regular Cast Members. Mike Lott annually heads the Stage Crew, assisted by Joe Jessing, Bonnie Breazeale, Corky Harris, Shelby Starr and Charles Musacchio. Robert Hirsh works "Behind the Scenes" activities.
Club members continue to sell tickets, but due to economic restraints, the automobile give-away has been eliminated, except for special occasions, and replaced with drawings for large screen televisions, vacation trips, and Diamond Jubilee bracelets. In 2004, the Club added a new dimension to the "Extravaganza" with "A Taste of Oak Cliff" featured in the pre-Show Agenda and led by John McCall, Jr., highlighting several area restaurants and samples of their menus. The venture was a total success with all food sold to a multitude of happy customers.
The 2005 "Extravaganza" featured an entirely new format with the event being held in Hitt Auditorium at Methodist Hospital and serving as both the Annual "Extravaganza" and the Club's Annual Christmas Party. Chaired by Past President Michelle Metzger, the theme of the show was "Holidays Around The World". Dinner was served to paying guests prior to the performance. Traditional Christmas music and dances were performed, as were selections highlighting Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. Members of the both the Club and the community took part in the show, which actually had no rehearsal due to inclement weather the day before. However, it is said to have been one of the best and most fun "Extravaganzas" ever. As luck would have it, Chair Metzger had her name drawn as the lucky winner of $5,000 in American Express Travelers Cheques... but she marched right to the Podium and promptly announced that she loved the Oak Cliff Lions Club so much that she was donating the entire prize back to the Club. Generosity runs deep in the Oak Cliff Lions Club and Lion Michelle is a true example! With all funds collected and counted, "Extravaganza" 2005 netted close to $20,000 for Club charities.
The 2006 "Extravaganza" was again held at Methodist Hospital's Hitt Auditorium in the Dinner-Theater style format. Lion Steve Bayless, along with his wife Marna, resumed the Musical Director duties that he held in the 1970's and 1980's for the Show. Bayless added his own Band and String Ensemble to the Show and helped make it a real "class" event. The cast was talented and clever. Lion Danny Boyce dressed as a Hula Girl and the "Supremes" were the hits of the Show. The crowd was good and the Show was deemed a success while benefitting Club Charities with some $15,000.
"A Rock and Roll Safari" was the Theme of "Extravaganza" 2007, held December 11, at Dallas Methodist Hospital's Hitt Auditorium. Musical Directors Steve and Marna Bayless again produced a fun-packed Show with a regal cast of mostly-talented Lions, and the Steve Bayless Show Band, with a return to the music of the 1950's and 1960's. Past President Dan "The Killer" Cunningham was just one of the array of entertainers who livened up the evening with his rendition of Jerry Lee Lewis' "Great Balls of Fire." Teresa Wash served as Extravaganza 2007 Chair and Past President Carolyn Dunnigan, assisted by Past President Robert Hirsh, was 2007 Ticket Chair. Again, it was a Dinner Theater atmosphere with a great crowd and atmosphere. Ticket sales for the Event were some $22,250.00, with a net profit for Club activities of approximately $16,500.00. First Prize for a limited number of $100.00 Drawing Tickets was a $5,000.00 AMEX Gift Card, (won by Ticket Chair Dunnigan who donated $1,000.00 back to the "Extravaganza") There were two Prizes for $1.00 Drawing Tickets - two tickets on Southwest Airlines, donated by Chair Wash and a week's stay at a beautiful mountain condo in Dillon, Colorado, donated by Carne and Marge Cunningham. Lion Carne appeared in his 50th "Minstrel-Extravaganza" on a night of fun and success for the Oak Cliff Lions Club.
"Extravaganza" 2008 was held November 13th, returning to the historic Texas Theater, where the Show began in 1947. Entitled "It's A Gas", the Program featured a farcical look at the Fuel Family's use of energy and their children and relatives' various means of travel to return home for Thanksgiving, performed by a talented group of Oak Cliff Lions and guest performers. Directed by Pat Crenshaw, with Musical Direction by Steve and Marna Bayless, Iris Smith served as Chairman and Wendy Fox and Carole Sprague were Ticket Chairs. The Noble Brass provided pre-Show music. To fit with the theme of the Show, the Ticket Grand Prize was $5,000 worth of Exxon/Mobil Gasoline Cards, won by Deidra Laux of Carrollton. With Proclamations from the Dallas County Judge, Dallas Mayor and a visit by the Lions District Governor, it was truly "Over The River And Through The Woods" for "Extravaganza" 2008, which netted approximately $13,000 for Lions Projects.
"Extravaganza" 2009 took place November 19th at the Historic Texas Theater with a Theme of "Get on Board". The setting was a cruise ship with interviews for various positions on the exotic cruise under Captain Jeff Francis and fellow-Interviewers Carole Sprague and Dan Cunningham. Teresa Wash served as General Chair, Diana LaQuey was Ticket Chair, Pat Crenshaw, Show Director, with Show Music by the Steve Bayless Ensemble. Lion Nora Mercado won the Drawing for the $5,000 Gift Card. "Extravaganza" 2009 netted some $12,000 for Oak Cliff Lions Club charities. The Oak Cliff Lions CLub of Dallas held its 62nd Annual "Extravaganza" on Thursday, November 18, 2010, at The Salon Las Americas in Dallas with a dinner, a Musical Program entitled "The Lions Roar Tonight" and a Reverse Raffle. Net proceeds from the evening benefit Lions Charities. Lion Pat Crenshaw was "Extravaganza" Director and Lion Steve Bayless was Musical Director. "Extravaganza" 2010 was Dedicated to Past President Darla Wisdom by President Danny Boyce for her many years of dedication to the "Extravaganza". Two other Lions were recognized with "Life Memberships" in Lions Clubs International for their long time dedication to the Show. Lion Carne Cunningham, 90, briefly played the banjo prior to his recognition, thus establishing Lion Cunningham's participation in 60 of the 62 Shows. Past President Fred Ferguson was also recognized with a "Life Membership" for having served as Master of Ceremonies for 25 consecutive years, until 1993, and as Director of the Show for several years. A brief Tribute was also paid to Past President/ Past District Governor Marion Snider, 96, Director of the Show for 22 years, who passed away the previous Sunday. Then the festivities continued as Lion Marion would have wanted. Lions work primarily in Eye Care for youngsters and the elderly. One young Drawing Prize Winner at the 2010 "Extravaganza" was seven year old Andrew Herring, son of Lion Don Herring, Jr., a performer in the Show, and grandson of Vice President Mike Lott, who helped cook the Bar-B-Q Dinner for the gathering. Andrew, at his young age is a three-time cornea transplant recipient. Winner of the Reverse Raffle with a top Prize of $10,000 was Lion Fawn Walker, who chose to share her winnings, providing $5,000 to the Club for its Charities. First Vice District Governor John Landrum, CPA and his wife Lion Hilary, President of the Palmer Lions Club, both of Waxahachie, served as the Official Drawers and Certified the Reverse Drawing Proceedings.
2010 marked a new "twist" for the "Extravaganza", but there was fun, food, festivities, music, fellowship and funding for Lions Club Projects. November 17th marked an outstanding occasion for the 65th Annual 2011 Oak Cliff Lions Club “Extravaganza”, held at The Salon Las Americas. Theme for the evening was “Gun Smoking-Boot Scooting” “Extravaganza”. With a full house, beautiful decorations and a great barbeque dinner cooked by Club Members, it was a truly fun night. President Mike Lott began the night by Dedicating the 2011 Extravaganza to Past President Dr. Burt Bryan and presenting the LCIF Melvin Jones Fellowship Award to Past President Darla Wisdom. Entertainment included songs by Lion Renee Francey of the Greenville Lions Club and her daughter Britnie Rosenbalm; performances by the Oak Cliff LION Dancers, skits by Lion Corky Harris, Past President Dr. Bill Lawhorn, Lion Josh Holt and a “Show Stopper” act by Club Administrative Secretary Sara Kitto. The Reverse Drawing was handled by District Governor John Landrum and wife Lion Hilary. The Drawing brought a dramatic close to the Program. With the final two Prize Tickets remaining on the Board, held by Oak Cliff Lion Judy Vincent and Lion Joe Leonard of the Greenville Lions Club, a “Club Ticket” was introduced and raffled off to benefit the Oak Cliff Lions Club by Master of Ceremonies Past President/Past District Governor Bill Melton. A heated bidding took place between Past President Steve Elwell, Vice President Carol Donovan, Lion Joe McElroy and Past President Mark Snyder. PP Elwell eventually won the Ticket, bidding $1,000, thus he joined the other two finalists and eventually won the $5,000 Grand Prize. Past President Wisdom was Chairman of the 2011 “Extravaganza”, Lion Irvin Gainer was Ticket Chairman and Vice President Iris Smith was Decorations Chair. All profits from the “Extravaganza” benefit the Service Projects of the Oak Cliff Lions Club.
"Extravaganza" not held 2012
Oak Cliff Lions Club History changed in 2012-2013, when the Club “flipped” the dates of the Extravaganza and Golf Tournament, from Fall to Spring, respectively. Thus there actually was not a 2012 Extravaganza. But the “new date” version was held April 18, 2013, also with a totally new concept. Rather than Club Members serving as the Cast, the event was held at the Booker T. Washington High School for Performing & Visual Arts in the Montgomery Arts Theater, featuring the Choral Department of the High School, Directed by Gloria J. Stephens. A full house greeted the Show of wonderful performances by highly talented young people. Pat Crenshaw served as Oak Cliff Lions Liaison and Wendy Fox was Ticket Chair. At the end of the Show, the Oak Cliff Lions Club held a Ticket Drawing for a 2013 SMART Car by Mercedes, won by Sandra Martin, who purchased but one ticket. The total amount of net funds raised from Extravaganza 2013, was approximately $10,000, for Oak Cliff Lions charitable causes.
"ExtravaDANCEa" 2014 was held May 22nd at Methodist Hospital's Hitt Auditorium with another new presentation of the Annual Gala, this time in a Dinner Theater setting. President Durhl Caussey and Lion Jo Ann Caussey served as Co-Emcees for the Event, which featured a festive Reception, dinner, entertainment and dancing. Featured performers were The Dallas Tap Dazzlers, stirring vocals by Past President Michelle Metzger, Past President Wayne Meachum, Lion Glenn Shank, and Club Administrative Secretary Sara Kitto, as well as fantastic music by the "Nobles of Note", musicians dedicated to helping burn victims and their families at the Galveston Shriners Hospitals for Children. There was also a Dance Contest with many Club Members and guests showing off their talents and with Lion Paula Craig as Chair of the Judges. The 2014 ExtravaDANCEa was Dedicated to Lion David Mills for his Lions Service. Past President Metzger served as Extravaganza Chair, Lion Eric Bailey was Ticket Chair, President-Elect Steve Bayless was Music Chair, Lion Joe Jessing served as Programs Chair and Lion Pat Crenshaw as Program Ads Chair. Decorations were by Past President Iris Smith, Lion Frances Stinnett and Past President and District Governor Darla Wisdom. The Prize Drawing was for a 2014 Mirage auto, purchased by the Club for a modest price through Vice President-Elect Don Herring Mitsubishi. Winner of the Mirage was Lion Nora Mercado, who won the Grand Prize for the second time in six years, thus proving it pays to participate in the Annual Extravaganza. At final count, it was anticipated that the Club would net some $10,000 for Charities.
May 21st, the Oak Cliff Lions Club “Extravaganza 2015” was held in Hitt Auditorium at Dallas Methodist Hospital with a new format. The “Extravaganza” Show featured Ed Burnet and the renowned Levee Singers and the (President) Steve Bayless Orchestra with a fun-packed, reminiscent Program.
The 4:30 P.M. Dress Rehearsal was open to the public with an emphasis for senior citizens. The full “Extravaganza 2015” took place at 7:30 P.M., preceded by the sampling of “finger food”. Tickets to the Show, with food, were $50.00. Club Members also sold $10.00 Raffle Tickets for a chance on a $5,000.00 Gift Card, which was won by Lion Judy Porter.
Vice President Carol Donovan was Chair of “Extravaganza” 2015, which was Dedicated to Lion Al Bell, a long-time Member of the Club’s “Nitty Gritty Grass Band”. Financial benefits from “Extravaganza 2015” totaled some $6,500.00 to help benefit Oak Cliff Lions Club activities.
In 2016, Eric Sebastian Galindo and Karla Trevino won the first “Oak Cliff’s Got Talent” Extravaganza talent show sponsored by the Oak Cliff Lions Club and held in the Bishop Dunne auditorium on Thursday, May 26, 2016. The two danced to “Jarabe Niyarit” and their Ballet Folklorico wowed the crowd. Second place went to singer/songwriter/guitarist Emma Kitto who sang her original song, “Little Whispers.” Her strong vocals and excellent guitar playing earned her the $250 second prize. A dance troupe from W.E. Greiner Middle School, Dance Company 1, directed by Susan Savarese, came in third with their rousing rendition of the Latin Fusion song, “Let’s get Loud,” by Jennifer Lopez. Other acts included classical pianist Claire Braddick, playing Rachmaninoff Prelude, Justus Clark reciting an original poem title, “Click Clack Pow,” and two Bishop Dunne students, Rubin Leos and Heath Kuykendall, singing a duet made famous by Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr., “Me and My Shadow.” Kaci Mills and Valery Tinajero also sang solos for the appreciative crowd made up of Oak Cliff Lions Club members, students from a dozen Oak Cliff area schools, and parents and friends of the talented performers on stage.
The 2016 Extravaganza was dedicated to Club Member Sara Kitto. The Extravaganza included a raffle drawing for a $2,500 VISA card. Second prize was a weekend at a lake house and third prize in the raffle was a $200 gift certificate to the Dallas Grilled Cheese Company in Bishop Arts. Celebrity judges volunteering their time for the first-of-its kind event were Michael A. Jenkins, past president of Dallas Summer Musicals, and president of Oak Cliff-based Leisure and Recreation Concepts Inc., or LARC, Michelle Metzger, former Miss Texas and a current Public Relations executive and Talent Scout James Casaerez. Funds raised from the evening will go to support local charities and International Lions Club charities.
No Extravaganza was held in 2017, or since, thus this great Tradition of the Oak Cliff Lions Club has essentially been discontinued.