Child's Play

With a propensity for fun, the Houston Children’s Festival throws a 30th birthday bash benefiting Child Advocates.

Mauro Gomez
girl with bubbles
girl with bubbles

Back in 1988, a family festival at a small park welcomed an inaugural crowd of 5,000. Fast-forward 30 years, and the celebration has grown ten-fold — and raised millions for charity. Now filling 16 city blocks with activities for kids from tots to teens, the McDonald’s Houston Children’s Festival hits Downtown April 7 and 8.


“It’s incredibly fun,” says festival director Tony Terwilliger of the array of sprawling stages for entertainment and 14 “family fun” zones between City Hall, Tranquility Park and Sam Houston Park. “Aside from entertaining, our goal is to inspire,” he says, noting that the fest encourages kids “to explore their futures in different industries,” and that “celebrities and fictional characters will also be in attendance.” Plus, there’s a motorcycle show featuring Nerveless Knocks, and carnival rides and petting zoos.

But it’s not all fun and games. The festival is in aid of Child Advocates, a nonprofit dedicated to helping children who have experienced abuse or neglect and are placed in foster care. “The festival is extremely important to us as it raises vital awareness and funds on our behalf,” says Child Advocates’ Ashley Brockette.

Chastiti Horne has spent 22 years as a volunteer. “The fact that I and so many of the advocates have remained affiliated with this charity for such a length of time says a lot,” she says. The role of the advocate is to be the voice of foster care children in family court. Horne helps decide, through interviews with family members, educators and health advisors, what is truly in the best interest of the child. “I’ve had the privilege of assisting over 50 children,” she says. “As much as people might think we impact the child’s life greatly, I actually feel like it’s been the other way around. It’s made me a better person.”

Terwilliger himself is celebrating his 21st year as the director. “The festival has been around so long that we hear stories of parents who used to attend as children now taking their own kids,” he says, “which I think is very special indeed.”

Wellness+Giving Back
Duos, Trios and Teams: ‘Next-Generation’ Mother-Daughter Leppert Duo Debuts

Clare Leppert and Clementine, the Cavachon. Leigh Leppert and Benny, the Bernedoodle.

HOW DID YOU come together as a team? This fall, we are celebrating the introduction of an exciting real estate collaboration between Clare Leppert, longtime Houston Realtor®, and daughter Leigh Leppert. Clare shared a 20+ year real estate partnership with her mother, Bette Carpenter, until Bette’s death in 2016. Having worked solo for several years, Clare in 2021 was awarded Houston Business Journal’s No. 2 Luxury Realtor® in Houston. Leigh, who has been working in marketing for the past decade, has always shared a passion for real estate and watched Clare successfully balance family and career. We are excited to re-create the next generation of a mother-daughter duo at Compass!

Keep ReadingShow less

Orleans Seafood (photo by Becca Wright)

FORGET MARCH MADNESS — mudbug madness has arrived. Fans think the little critters taste like baby lobsters, so they can’t gobble up enough. Here’s where to hit for the most badass boils in town.

Keep ReadingShow less
Food

'Alma's Rainbow'

THIS WEEKEND, FEB. 3-5, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston presents Through the Lens of African American Women, a mini-festival of four films and one short, all directed by Black women. The lineup was curated by UH graduate Autumn Johnson, who interned with the MFAH film department last summer and produced the short film This is Real Life, which has earned 70,000 views and counting on YouTube. As Houston is home to such talented Black female film directors as Candice D’Meza, Lisa E. Harris and Brittany Bass, and this being Black History Month, the festival is timely and will resonate with anyone interested in great, independent filmmaking.

Keep ReadingShow less
Art + Entertainment