Lists

The Happiest Moments of 2022

Actress and film star Emma Watson surprised a class of theater students at Sudie L. Williams Talent and Gifted Academy on Wednesday.
Actress and film star Emma Watson surprised a class of theater students at Sudie L. Williams Talent and Gifted Academy on Wednesday. Courtesy of DISD
It's easy to be negative and a naysayer, saying "Nay!" to everyone and everything in your path. And positivity is not exactly our brand, to be honest. But it's the start of a new year. We don't want to do our usual thing out of the starting gate. There will be plenty of nays to go around by the time the year's done.

Let's look back at some of the stories that made us smile in 2022.
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Actress and singer Jennifer Hudson received her own cast T-shirt from students at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts.
Courtesy of Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts
1. Some Huge Celebrities Surprise Dallas ISD Students
Imagine you're back in school. It's another boring, dreary day of trying to pay attention to lectures about exponents and the mating habits of bullfrogs. Then, without warning, a celebrity of the highest caliber walks in the door. That's what happened in two local classrooms this past year.

The first celebrity appearance happened in April when actress Emma Watson surprised a classroom of students at the Sudie L. Williams Talented and Gifted Academy during theater teacher Richard T. Quadri's class. Then in August, the cast of the production of The Wiz at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts got a surprise visit from actress and singer Jennifer Hudson, who was in town as part of a promotional tour for her daytime talk show.
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An artist rendering shows the proposed renovations for the Fair Park Band Shell.
Overland Partners
2. Fair Park Is Getting a Makeover
The Fair Park facilities are a Dallas and Texas institution. The 80 acres that house events like the Texas State Fair, the North Texas Irish Festival and traveling Broadway shows are one of the few connections the city has with 130 years of history. It's also in dire need of an upgrade, and it looks like it's finally going to happen. Fair Park First released some artist renderings of its plans to renovate some of Fair Park's most iconic infrastructures, including Cotton Bowl Stadium, Music Hall and Fair Park Coliseum. The plans took a good while to happen because of state funding laws that prevented hotel and rental car tax revenue from being spent on municipal parks and recreation projects. The Texas Legislature passed a bill during its last session to change Fair Park's designation so the city could let voters decide on the funding plan through Proposition A on the Nov. 8 ballot.
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The popular Pocket Sandwich Theatre opened at its new downtown Carrollton location on Nov. 25, with its holiday musical Ebenezer Scrooge, written by theater founder Joe Dickinson.
Shanon Dickinson
3. Pocket Sandwich Theatre Reopens in Downtown Carrollton
One of Dallas' most loved theaters had to make a big move just after it got on its feet again. The landlord who held the lease on Pocket Sandwich Theater's Mockingbird Lane location decided not to renew it in 2021, even after years of sold-out shows. It didn't take too long for the Pocket people to find a new and better place to put on their original comedies. The city of Carrollton worked with Pocket Sandwich staff to set up a newly renovated space in its downtown neighborhood. A year later, the theater opened with a run of its annual Ebenezer Scrooge show in November, which sold out every night and even brought actress and singer Selena Gomez to one of the final performances.
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The Old Grey Wolf Mike Rhyner presenting an award at the 2019 Dallas Observer Music Awards.
Mike Brooks
4. Mike Rhyner Returns to the Airwaves with 97.1 FM The Freak
The news started on a sour note as the longtime rock station 97.1 FM The Bone announced it would be changing formats, but it got better when the station revealed that retired The Ticket host Mike Rhyner would return to the airwaves for the station's new all-talk format. The move also kept sports talk hosts from Ben & Skin on its station and brought back some familiar names such as Pugs Moran of Pugs & Kelly fame and other Ticket personalities like Danny Balis, Julie Dobbs, Mike Sirois and Michael Gruber.
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Kerri Colby returns to Dallas for the inaugural TX Trans Pride event.
Courtesy of Prism Health North Texas
5. The First TX Trans Pride Event Held in the Rose Room
The year 2022 was filled with empty jarheads protesting and threatening trans clubs and events with outdated myopic views of people they know nothing about. That's what made September's inaugural TX Trans Pride gathering at the Rose Room even more of a success. The gathering also brought hometown hero and RuPaul's Drag Race Season 14 star Kerri Colby, who called the event "something that when I was on my journey of coming up trans, I never would have even thought that finding myself how I am now was possible at the time."
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Shaq's fast-casual chicken spot is coming to Texas.
Courtesy of Big Chicken
6. Shaq Spotted Doling Out Dollars to Those Who Need It Most
"Celebrity" can be such a bad word, but NBA superstar and Inside the NBA host Shaquille O'Neal uses the title as a force for good. O'Neal bought a huge home in Denton County last May and for the rest of the year, people spotted him across North Texas helping people who could really use it. He was in town to open a franchise of his Hot Freestyle chicken chain restaurant, and that's when his good works kicked into gear. First, he went to a nearby Best Buy to buy a new washing machine and a 75-inch TV for a local family. He also approached complete strangers to ask them if they needed help, then opened his wallet to give them cash. And he surprised kids at a basketball skills camp at Roanoke's Tidwell Middle School.
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Comedian and Backdoor Comedy Club co-owner Linda Stogner will ring in 2023.
Jan Norton
7. Comedian and Backdoor Comedy Club Co-Owner Linda Stogner Gets Her First Comedy Special
Dallas would not have a comedy scene to call its own without people such as Linda Stogner. The Funniest Comic in Texas winner, who runs the Backdoor Comedy Club with Jan Norton, finally got the feature-length comedy special she deserved long ago with Welcome to My Planet on the Dry Bar Comedy Network. She shot the piece just before the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
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Jeff Wells as Dr. Frank-n-furter in the live production of The Rocky Horror Show.
Courtesy of Lyric Stage
8. Jeff Wells Plays Dr. Frank-N-Furter in Casa Mañana Theatre's Rocky Horror for the 20th Year
Some actors worry about being pigeon-holed into the same types of roles for the rest of their careers. Actor Jeff Wells has relished the chance to play one of the most coveted roles in theater for two whole decades. This past year, he played the scheming Dr. Frank-N-Furter in Casa Mañana Theatre's annual production of the rock musical Rocky Horror during the Halloween season for the 20th consecutive year.

"Playing Frank-N-Furter is the equivalent of playing David Bowie," Wells told Observer writer Alex Gonzalez. "Everyone makes it about some sort of sexuality thing, and that's not what this guy is to me. That's what he does, that's what the script says, but for me to play it, it's not about that. It’s far more liberating and deep-rooted in something, and that's why it means so much to me. It’s about being secure who you are, and not being afraid to let the world know it.”
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The crowds came out despite the heat of the summer to see acts such as Nikki Lane at AT&T Discovery District in downtown Dallas.
Andrew Sherman
9. Dallas Tourism Rakes In More Than $7 Billion
Restaurants, bars and other attractions took the brunt of the economic impact caused by the coronavirus. Fortunately, things started to bounce back pretty quickly. A report from Visit Dallas, the nonprofit group formerly known as the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau, showed that the city brought in $7.2 billion in revenue, $4.4 billion of which came from 22.5 million visitors in 2021. The boom in tourism also helped maintain 43,000 jobs and raise $421 million in state and local tax revenue.
10. Magician Zak Mirz Fools Penn & Teller
Dallas magician Zak Mirz put one of his signature card tricks to the ultimate taste and came out a winner with it. Mirz went on an episode of The CW magic showcase series Penn & Teller: Fool Us, in which illusionists perform original tricks for the famed Las Vegas bad boys of magic to see if they can figure out how it was done. Mirz performed his "Stabbing Card" trick in which he uses a knife to puncture through a deck of cards to the exact predicted card. Penn Jillette and Teller thought Mirz had a metal plate underneath the three of spades that Jillette had chosen, but Mirz made their jaws drop when he told them that no such item was used in the trick. Mirz not only won the honor of fooling two of the most famous magicians in the world but he also scored a spot in the magic duo's show at The Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas along with the famed Fool Us trophy with an emphasis on the "F" and the "U."  
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Danny Gallagher has been a regular contributor to the Dallas Observer since 2014. He has also written features, essays and stories for MTV, the Chicago Tribune, Maxim, Cracked, Mental_Floss, The Week, CNET and The Onion AV Club.

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