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The pinnacle of our public television contribution history came when we weren't even old enough to have an allowance. We were in preschool (or would have been if we hadn't cried and screamed until the teacher called our mom to pick us up early...and never come back). We cried and screamed--it always works--and convinced Dad to call in and pledge money to our local PBS affiliate. And then the moment came: Big Bird read our name and hometown live on television in thanks. Yes, the Big Bird said our name. And now nothing, not an Are You Being Served? coffee mug or a Mr. Bean miniature Mini Cooper, will ever live up to that moment. Sorry, KERA, even Tour of Taste cannot compare.

This year's tour, the ninth so far, has the theme of "KERA Salutes the Movies," and many of the packages to be auctioned off are cinema-centric. There are trips to reel-worthy locations (Paris, Athens) and special dinners (either at a fancy eatery or prepared by a chef at the winner's home). The raffle prize is a 2003 Lexus SC430. The shindig kicks off with food from 20 North Texas restaurants and samples of 35 wines, and continues with a silent auction of regional travel packages and 50 dining gift certificates. The live auction includes the international vacations and the more upscale dining experiences. The movie theme comes alive with impersonators of Marilyn Monroe and Groucho Marx. Nice touch, but it's no Big Bird.


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