Dallas Marathon (Photo by Danny Fulgencio)

Dallas Marathon (Photo by Danny Fulgencio)

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Fast, festive, philanthropic

1971 marked the first Dallas Marathon, run mostly around (and around) White Rock Lake. The race that year took place in spring, and 61 of 82 registered runners finished the 26.2 miles. Today the marathon is a December hallmark in which thousands partake in the full, half and relay components of the event. Marathoners trek a city-encompassing course lined with reveling spectators, Gatorade-granting volunteers and 40-some musical acts. And there are those little marathon-morning idiosyncrasies locals have come to anticipate — crack-of-dawn block parties, beer at mile 20, men dressed as a curvy country-music star at the base of the so-called “Dolly Parton hills” and Santa’s Speedy Helpers all-female relay team. You will know them by their ripped abdomens, striped knee socks and slinky red-velour running sets. This year these fast women have three relay squads, says team member Dawn Grunnagle, an elite distance runner and coach. Not only do they tackle miles at breakneck pace and nab practically all the division relay awards, but they also raise money for the charity Hope Supply Co., which aids homeless children. The marathon itself in 1997 became a massive fundraising machine for the Texas Scottish Rite Children’s Hospital, to which it has since given more than $3.8 million. Still, the race sustains something of a love/hate relationship with our neighborhood. Some adore the whole spectacle and all it represents, while others abhor the noise and road closures — either way, White Rock area residents will want to mark the calendars for the big run Sunday, Dec. 11.

Compete for speed or costume awards, including potential stroller-decoration honors at the shamrock jingle bell 5k race, an annual event benefitting the children of St. Patrick’s Catholic School. Registration is $33 on race day for adults, $22 for children. Count on special appearances by both St. Nick and beloved Father Josef Vollmer-König, St. Pat’s church pastor. A mile walk/run begins at the church, Ferndale at Walnut Hill, at 9 a.m., and a 5k follows at 9:30, Dec. 10. Like most Catholic churches, St. Patrick’s holds a midnight Christmas Eve mass. One tasty tidbit about church pastor Josef: the 63-year-old former chef is a prizewinning gingerbread-house architect. A few Christmases ago, his commissioned gingerbread mansions brought in a few thousand dollars, he told us in a 2013 interview. He gave all the earnings to Catholic Charities.

Serious runners should switch out athletic shoes every 300 miles or so, to prevent injury by keeping those insoles bouncy (or it’s an ingenious marketing conspiracy). But some shoes, even after having traveled hundreds of miles, often remain in good shape for walking. Neighborhood resident Ken Troupe a few years ago sprung the idea of collecting runners’ gently worn kicks and redistributing them to homeless folks in need of footwear. Now Dallas runners regular drop shoes off on Troupe’s porch or hold Shoe Guy shoe drives at running events. Like The Shoe Guy & Gals on Facebook for more.

Bath House

Bath House

The so-called “sweetest run of the year” takes place Saturday, Dec. 17 at 7 a.m. outside the Bath House Cultural Center at White Rock Lake. Entry fee is one batch of cookies, for trading. Runners loop the lake before the cookie swap, so just show up at 8:30 a.m. to skip the 9.2-mile exertion. The post-run party is open to all and features eggnog, chocolate milk and more. Bring your used running shoes for The Shoe Guy (see above).

4 musical events not to miss 

Home to the annual Hair Metal Holiday, The Bomb Factory is located at 2713 Canton St., but we honor the venue and the event, a throwback metal-music bash, because the proprietors, Clint and Whitney Barlow, reside in Lake Highlands. The duo is credited with bringing Deep Ellum’s Bomb Factory and Trees back to life. Hair Metal Holiday, featuring SLAUGHTER, Kix, King’s X, Lynch Mob with George Lynch of Dokken, BulletBoys, Tuff, Pretty Boy Floyd and Lillian Axe — is Dec. 10 at 3 p.m. Tickets start at $30.

Polyphonic Spree Holiday Extravaganza

Polyphonic Spree Holiday Extravaganza

Christmas collides with pop rock when the White Rock area-rooted Polyphonic Spree puts on its big show
this month. The annual Holiday Extravaganza takes place Dec. 10 at 6 p.m. at the Majestic Theatre, 1925 Elm St. Visit theholidayextravaganza.com or call 214.670.3687 for details.

 World Beat Concert drum show brings rhythms from around the world, and it is free at Richland College. The Richland Percussion Group and Steel Band performs at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 8 at Fannin Hall.

Lone Star Circus (Photo by Danny Fulgencio)

Lone Star Circus (Photo by Danny Fulgencio)

 The Lone Star Circus marks its 10th year of bringing it’s festive holiday “La Fête” showcase of acrobats and aerialists, music and mimes. You’ll want to get there 45 minutes early to take in the pre-show with music, poetry and more. The show runs Dec. 27-Jan 1, during which showtimes vary by day. Tickets are $21-$27 and available at lonestarcircus.com.

Get real on New Year’s Eve

King's X. (Photo by Danny Fulgencio)

King’s X. (Photo by Danny Fulgencio)

Ditch the posh, bottle service, reservations- required, craft-cocktail fraught, black-tie
New Year’s Eve events and opt for the down and dirty, far more fun and closer to home dive bars such as Kings X (9191 Forest Lane), One Nostalgia Place (6521 Abrams Road) or O’Riley’s (8989 Forest Lane). These are the places your old high school buddies gather when home for fall and winter breaks, so you never know who you’ll run into.

Things we loved 

Winter Solstice 

Neighborhood resident Amy Martin birthed this event in 1993, and the interfaith, interactive celebration of the shortest day of the year, Dec. 17 in 2016, continued to evolve. She has described the night as “whole-bodied” and “experiential,” with singing, dancing, chanting, yoga, storytelling and rituals honoring our ancestors during the two-hour service, followed by a social hour with groove music, origami peace-crane folding and pictures with Father Winter. For years White Rock area residents enjoyed the lakeside festivities, but a few years ago the event uprooted, relocating to Oak Cliff — this year it is from 6-9:30 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church.

Organic melodies 

Rick Burns who grew up in Lake Highlands says his favorite memory was hearing live holiday hymns emanating from a home in the Old Lake Highlands neighborhood. “The music was played on organ from the man that lived at the last house on Van Dyke, off Easton, overlooking Norbuck Park and White Rock Lake,” Burns recalls. “It echoed through the neighborhood from his front porch.” He says people would gather and cars would line the streets to enjoy the enchanting melodies.