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Presenting 2018

Mystery calendar unveiled at Highland Springs

Created date

January 4th, 2018
Highland Springs community members Gayle and Dick Manassa appear in the January photo of the 2018 calendar featuring Highland Springs residents and staff.

Highland Springs community members Gayle and Dick Manassa appear in the January photo of the 2018 calendar featuring Highland Springs residents and staff.


After months of anticipation, the Highland Springs’ mystery calendar isn’t a secret any longer.

Resident life staff unveiled the 2018 calendar, featuring residents of the North Dallas community, to an audience eager to see the finished project.

“For such a large undertaking, it’s pretty incredible that the details didn’t leak,” says Dick Manassa, who appears in the calendar’s January photo.

Secret mission

The calendar was the brainchild of Resident Services Coordinator Barbara Blachly, who oversaw the project from conception to completion. Billie Byrd, also a resident services coordinator, served as Blachly’s “right hand,” pulling together costumes and props for residents to use in the photo shoots.

The calendar’s title, “We Walk on Water for Highland Springs,” hints at the make-believe nature of the endeavor. Months before the photo shoots took place, Blachly scouted out locations around Dallas based on the themes for each month.

January evoked the Roaring Twenties, with community members posing in flapper dresses and zoot suits to create a vignette that you might find in a speakeasy. The scene was shot at Times Ten Cellars in Dallas.

“We had our initial interest meeting for the mystery calendar in mid-August,” says Blachly. “More than 150 residents expressed an interest in participating. We divided them into teams: Team January, Team February, and so on, and that’s the only information we gave residents at that point. They didn’t know where the photo shoots would take place or what their roles would be.”

Dressing the part

Dick and his wife Gayle were assigned to Team January. The day before their photo shoot, Blachly and Byrd handed out costumes but didn’t share any information about the location of the shoot.

“It was all a secret,” says Dick. “Barbara told us where we were going once we were on the bus.”

Gayle, who dressed as a flapper girl for the photo shoot, was so excited about the mysterious undertaking that she couldn’t sleep the night before.

“It’s fun to dress up and do something out of the ordinary,” says Gayle. “The attention to detail was amazing. Our costumes were more than I could have imagined.”

“No matter your age, it’s fun to go on little adventures and play a role,” says Barbara. “As we shot each month’s scene, I saw residents getting to know each other on a new level. I think it was a bonding experience for many of them.”

Result worth the suspense

Margaret Bogle was on Team July, a scene of early American travelers shot at the Museum of the American Railroad in Frisco. Margaret donned a leather duster and Stetson hat for the photo.

“We didn’t find out where we were going or what we would be doing until we were on the bus,” says Margaret. “That was part of the intrigue. We just trusted Barbara.”

Blachly says the support from hosts at photo shoot sites, as well as support from the management team at Highland Springs, was invaluable in bringing her idea to life.

“Our executive team at Highland Springs let me run with this idea even though I kept them in the dark,” says Blachly. “The only knowledge they had was the photo shoot of staff for the cover of the calendar.”

The cover photo was taken in front of the Winspear Opera House and features Highland Springs staff from departments across the community—management, human resources, sales, dining, medical, and resident life.

“This was an opportunity to do something out of the norm,” says resident Sue White, who appears in the calendar with her husband Bill. “It was a community-building experience, and now we have these great pictures to ring in the New Year.”

For those interested in purchasing a 2018 calendar, cost is $10 each. Please contact Barbara Blachly at 972-232-8031 for more information.