How to throw a party for 3,000 Girl Scouts (and live to tell about it)

This spring, our event calendar has been just a little bit different. Long-time patrons might have noticed that Plow, Plant and Shear got moved to a Sunday and was a much smaller event. There was a very good reason for that: the Girl Scouts were throwing a party. And the size of that one event demolished a few other things in its path.

About a year ago, staff from the Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas Council approached us with an idea: the Girl Scout Centennial was coming up–what if the big council-wide party was held at DHV? We’ve worked with GSNETX for years–first by offering specific programming at the Village for Girl Scouts–badge workshops, tours, and one special Girl Scout Day. Several years ago, we collaborated with other Dallas history museums, as well as GSNETX, to create a History Museum Explorer patch. During that process, I got to know Geri pretty well. But a 100th birthday party was a whole other ball game.

After figuring out if our space would work and come to an agreement about some of the financial aspects of the event, we had a series of meetings to work out the details. We were anticipating thousands, so there was a lot to think about. However, GSNETX could not have been better to work with–Geri and Ashley are seasoned event pros. It certainly helped that Geri and I already knew each other. They were also working with a committee of Girl Scout volunteers and supporters. There were layers and layers of people working on this event–big picture stuff all the way down to working on just one specific activity. This event had many moving parts, but it all came together beautifully.

On March 31, over 3,000 people came to celebrate 100 years of Girl Scouting. We had so much fun! Some highlights for me (with photos!):

A parade, complete with wagons decorated by troops of all ages. These wagons were just adorable, and the girls were so proud of them.

Also part of the parade were models sporting historic uniforms. Bonnie, who is also one of our volunteers (you’ll frequently find her in the farmstead kitchen) made many of these uniforms. She also worked on a Decades display housed in our Depot. Elizabeth, her daughter, is in the blue uniform on the left. Elizabeth is also a Junior Historian–she ended up doing a few costume changes throughout the day. I thought it was such fun that some of “our” people are also “Girl Scout” people.

Food trucks! Frankly, I never saw the line this short. We are loving this whole food truck trend, because it solves so many food issues during events. Of course, I have yet to eat at a food truck while it’s at the Village–something about being too busy to stand in line.

A flash mob on Main Street! Yes, we at DHV are on the cutting edge with both food trucks and flash mobs at the same event. And notice–it’s Elizabeth again, front and center, but this time looking like a Junior Historian instead of a Girl Scout.

You can’t have a birthday party without some kind of sweet treat. And though cake is lovely, aren’t s’mores a lot more Girl Scout-y? I definitely took some time to roast a couple of marshmallows, and that s’more was so, so good.

One thing that photos can’t quite capture is the sheer size and energy of this event, though this photo comes close. Geri and Ashley had two big goals as we planned: at least 100 activities and girls unable to complete every single thing. They wanted people to leave saying “We had so much fun, but we just didn’t get to everything!” There were games, SWAPs, displays, and crafts in every nook and cranny of the Village. And, of course, our people were doing what they do at every event: touring buildings, hands-on historical activities and more. I know I didn’t see everything, and I’m pretty sure not many did.

Working with Geri and Ashley. Let’s be honest: some partnerships are easier than others. This was the biggest collaboration I’ve ever worked on, and it was also one of the smoothest. They respected the unique issues of hosting an event at DHV, kept in constant communication, and asked all the right questions. They also wrangled a huge planning committee and an army of volunteers. Honestly, I didn’t realize the scope of the committee and volunteers until I saw them in action on Friday and Saturday. Hats off to you two!

All in all, it was a very good (though very exhausting) day at the Village.

During the event, several people asked “Do you do this every year?” Well, no, since a centennial only happens once! But next year, our spring calendar will be back to normal. Plow, Plant and Shear will be back on a Saturday, and we’ll combine it again with our Girl Scout Day. We’ve already started making plans. . . .

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