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Texas East Gymnastics: A Family of Fun


ps4By Kelly Griffith-Fields

For forty-six years, Texas East Gymnastics has been teaching the fundamentals and honing skills of gymnasts of all ages, from preschool to competitor levels.

In their 22,500 square-foot, air conditioned facility banners adorn the wall claiming past victories. Bright colors engage young athletes, and top notch training equipment is utilized morning to night.

The family owned and operated business makes its mission to ensure all participants gain enhanced self-worth, self-confidence, and an “I can” attitude.

Preschool Gymnastics takes place in its own special room, the Jungle Gym. Boys and girls, ages two to four spend an hour each class covering all gymnastic events.

“Our goal is to allow each child to feel comfortable with movement and acquire fundamental skills which can be refined in later years,” part-owner, Marlynne Finch said.

Young gymnasts begin with a motor skills musical warm up and move on to floor, beam, bars, and vault activities. The equipment in Jungle Gym is made smaller to be suitable for the youngest of athletes.

ps-obstacle“Studies show that early intellectual growth is directly related to physical development,” Finch said. “Therefore gymnastics not only develops the body, it also develops the mind.”

At the end of the year students may participate in the Preschool Gymnastics’ Junior Olympics Show and Awards Presentation. Preschoolers are able to show off the skills they’ve gained in class to an audience of family and friends.

Recreational Gymnastics classes are available for boys and girls ages five and up. The girls learn through a progressive gymnastics programs from beginner to advanced levels. “Our level system is based on skill mastery, and therefore ensures upward progress,” Finch said.

Gymnasts train on all four Olympic events: vault, bars, beam and floor. The trampoline is another tool at the facility that helps students recognize the fun of being active.

ninja1The boys program emphasizes strength, flexibility and balance. Six men’s Olympic events are featured: vault, parallel bars, pommel horse, still rings, floor exercises, and high bar. The trampoline and other related activities are often incorporated into new challenges.

“Gymnastics helps to build confidence and self-discipline by exposing it’s participants to challenges that can be handled successfully,” Finch said.

Texas East Gymnastics also takes pride in their competitive teams. With levels ranging from beginner to elite, gymnasts compete in the USA Gymnastics Federation which is the governing body of International Gymnastics Competition.

Levels of competition include District, North State, State, Regional, Westerns, and Elite that compete to Nationals. Texas East Gymnastics have gymnasts competing at each of these levels.

boys“We have one of the most successful teams in Texas with many State and Regional champions, National qualifiers and a Pre-Elite National Team member, and an Elite gymnast who competed in the Championships of the USA,” Finch said. “Our gymnast, Danica Abanto just finished competing in the Philippine National Championships.”

Along with those accomplishments many gymnasts practicing at Texas East have also been awarded with full college scholarships. Athletes have received full rides to the Universities of Florida, Kentucky, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Auburn, just to name a few.

For young girls who want to pursue competitive gymnastics Texas East offers Developmental Teams. The classes increase practice time which speeds the rate skills are acquired and enhance the gymnast’s maturity preparing them for competition.

Cheer Tumbling Classes are provided for girls and boys ages eight and over. Classes are optimal for students soon trying out for a cheerleading team. The spring floor, trampolines, tumble track, pit and mirrors help improve the cheer instruction and prepare the tumblers.

“The majority of area cheer tumbling squads currently picked our students as their team members,” Finch said.

Texas East also offers private lessons. Whether it is to develop a certain skill or prepare for gymnastics competition or cheer tryouts, private lessons are available with the instructor of your choice.

In addition to their regular programs and classes Texas East hosts special nights during each month.

Friday Fun Nights are held once a month. The facility is open to children ages five to eight-teen and they do not have to be enrolled in the gym to participate. The fun takes place from 7-10pm. Tickets for the event are $10 prior to the day and $15 the day of fun night.

The children are divided into groups by age and ability. Each group will rotate through the facility that will consist of about ten different stations. At each station they will receive instruction by trained and experienced coaches to complete the challenge, and tests their skills and abilities.

Space is limited so it’s encouraged that participants purchase their tickets in advance.

“Ninja night is the new program offered at TEG,” Finch said.

It will be scheduled on certain Saturdays from 6-8pm at the cost of $20 per ticket. Again children do not need to be enrolled to participate.

“At Ninja Night children will learn how to maneuver obstacles, overcome challenges and move to accomplish a task,” Finch said.

Texas East Gymnastics also offers their facility to host birthday parties.

The party package includes a t-shirt for the birthday child. Parties begin with one hour of instructional activities. A certified gymnastics instructor will coach kids through such things as an obstacle course, rope climb, trampoline jumping, and group games.

Thirty minutes of the party is allotted for refreshments and gifts in the party room too.

Texas East Gymnastics is located at 1914 Deerbrook Dr. in Tyler. For class schedules, tuition rates and more information call (903)509-3547 or visit

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Around East Texas

July 26th: Daddy Daughter Date Night returns to the Rose Garden Center

Tickets are now on sale for the Daddy Daughter Date Night sponsored by the Tyler Parks and Recreation Department and Chick-Fil-A. The special event is on Thursday, July 26 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the Rose Garden Center, 420 Rose Park Drive. Tickets can be purchased at for only $20 per dad and daughter. Several seating times are available to choose from on Eventbrite.

Each dad and daughter will enjoy an evening “Under The Sea” with a meal provided by Chick-Fil-A and Smallcakes. There will be photo opportunities, which are included in the ticket price. Live entertainment and a craft project for dads and daughters to work on together are lined up and surprises to take home.

“It will be a great night for dads to treat their daughters like a princess, hang out with the Chick-fil-A cows and have great one-on-one conversation throughout the evening,” said Debbie Isham, special events/recreation manager.

This event is sponsored by the Tyler Parks and Recreation Department, Chick-Fil-A, Smallcakes, Evoynne’s Florist, Flowers and Gifts and All American Tent and Party Rental.

For more information, please call Debbie Isham, special events/recreation manager at (903) 531-1214.

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It’s Time for Ice Cream: Move Over Summer Heat


Summer is a wonderful thing. When the weather warms up, people head outdoors. Days are long and hot and it’s perfect conditions for swimming, canoeing, biking, and picnics.

And best of all, a sweaty brow is a great excuse to gather your friends and go out for a drippy cone of ice cream. It’s cold. It’s sweet. It’s creamy. And that burst of fruit-filled, nutty, or chocolate-chunky flavor can be incredibly refreshing when the steamy heat of summer starts to weigh you down.

As far as we’re concerned, ice cream is summer’s most delightful treat. Here are a few of our favorite sweet treats – from ice cream and froyo to shakes and custards.

Grub Burger Bar

Grub Burger Bar (6421 S. Broadway Ave., Tyler, features some simply wonderful shakes in traditional flavors: strawberry, vanilla bean, and chocolate, plus Nutella, salted caramel, Root Beer float, and a monthly special.

Several hand spun specialities of the house are the “Kitchen Sink,” featuring pretzels, peanut butter, salt, butterscotch sauce, caramel sauce, chocolate chips, coffee grounds, and potato chips (yes, potato chips). It is unique and heavenly and has a wonderful salty-sweet combo with a slight surprise crunch. Another favorite, the Worms & Dirt shake, has a ton of crushed Oreos and gummy worms.

If you are a chocolate lover, these two are for you. The ET Shake is like getting the entire candy aisle all in one glass with Reeses pieces, peanut butter, chocolate, and a peanut butter cookie. The Mint Chocolate Chip will hit the spot too with homemade crushed brownies, Andes mints, and a ton of chocolate.

For adults, Grub Burger Bar offers spiked shakes too. They have Bourbon & Caramel, Boozy Mint Chocolate Chip (vodka, crème de cacao, creme de mènthe, and Andes mints), the Tipsy Worms & Dirt (chocolate vodka, crushed Oreos, and gummy worms), and the ET Drunk Dial (chocolate vodka, Reeses pieces, peanut butter, chocolate, and a peanut butter cookie). Our favorite is the Spiked Dirty Kitchen Sink (chocolate vodka, pretzels, peanut butter, salt, butterscotch sauce, caramel sauce, chocolate chips, coffee grounds, and Grub’s signature topping – potato chips).

Andy’s Frozen Custard

Andy’s Frozen Custard (6106 S. Broadway Ave., Tyler, has always been fanatical about custard and has served it with pride since March 19, 1986. For more than three decades, only the freshest ingredients have been used for a frozen custard experience you can’t get anywhere else.

The difference? Ice cream is made from milk, cream, or a combination of the two. Andy’s Frozen Custard is made from milk, cream, and egg yolks. Also, while the machine used to make ice cream churns air into it to make it light, frozen custard is produced in a machine that barely incorporates air into it at all, which means it comes out way more dense.

Andy’s Frozen Custard has mastered custard and they offer a lot of creations that will cool you off this hot summer. A few of our favorites are Andy’s Ozark Turtle (custard covered with hot fudge, crème caramel, roasted pecans, and topped with a cherry), The Original Straw-Ana (frozen custard covered with delicious strawberries and sliced bananas – think banana split ala custard), and Butter Pecan Concrete which is Andy’s frozen custard blended with butterscotch and roasted pecans.

For chocolate lovers, you will think you have found heaven with Andy’s Triple Chocolate Concrete (chocolate frozen custard blended with chocolate chip cookie dough and melted chocolate chips).

The Snowmonster Concrete has frozen custard blended with strawberries and melted chocolate chip. And the customer favorite, Andy’s Turtle Split has custard, a whole banana covered with hot fudge, crème caramel, roasted pecans, and topped with a cherry…Andy’s own version of a banana split.

Andy’s has a convenient drive-thru and picnic tables out front that can accommodate a large group.

Mercado’s Cafe & Posado’s Cafe

In the mood for something a little different? How about ice cream in a fried tortilla! Mercado’s (2214 WSW Loop 323, Tyler) and their sister company Posado’s Cafe (2500 E. Fifth St., Tyler) has a unique menu item – the Bunuelo – a large golden-fried tortilla dusted with cinnamon and sugar and filled with big scoops of vanilla ice cream. It is served with your choice of syrup topping, whipped cream, and their specially-made praline pecans. This is a great treat after any meal and certainly a nice way to cool off on a hot summer day.

SweetFrog Frozen Yogurt

SweetFrog Premium Frozen Yogurt (2467 Crow Rd., Tyler, is new to the fro-yo scene in Tyler but they are certainly not new to creating a great product. They feature a “create your own” bar where you can combo delicious, soft-serve premium frozen yogurt and a ton of toppings. The combinations are endless! You can create everything from a light snack, a decadent dessert, and everything in between. You pick the flavors, then add the toppings, and you can make it any way you want!

From SweetFrog’s lovable mascots, Scoop and Cookie, to the meaning of the store’s name of F.R.O.G. in SweetFrog which stands for ‘Fully Rely On God,’ SweetFrog is a great place to quench your fro-yo cravings.

Pokey O’s Tyler

Pokey O’s Tyler ( What exactly is a Pokey O’s? Well, it is a made-to-order ice cream sandwich individually customized for you from the Pokey O’s dessert food truck. You can create any combo you can dream up – customizing the yummy fresh cookies and Blue Bell® ice cream – into a Pokey O’s!

A favorite is the not highly creative but totally heavenly combo of chocolate chip cookies and chocolate ice cream – a chocolate lover’s dream! 

The menu changes daily but standards are chocolate chip, snickerdoodle, fudge nut brownie, white chocolate, macadamia nut, sugar cookie, cappuccino chocolate chip, maple pecan, and more.

Blue Bell® Ice cream flavors include traditional vanilla, chocolate, mint chocolate, sea salt and caramel, cookies ‘n cream, coffee, cake batter, rocky road, pecan pralines and cream, mocha almond, cotton candy, peachy peach and peppermint.

The Porch @ ETX Brewing Co.

The Porch @ ETX Brewing Co. (221 S. Broadway Ave., Tyler, serves Henry’s Homemade Ice Cream, a Mom & Pop shop in Plano, Texas. You can get a cone or get it on top of their handmade Bread Pudding. The Porch offers a new creative kind of bread pudding every week. Recently, The Porch has had Grilled Peach with Cinnamon Stout Sauce topped with pecans and Henry’s Cinnamon Ice Cream! They always have four different flavors of ice cream and keep them rotating.

Twisted Root Burger Co.

Twisted Root Burger Co. (4601 S. Broadway Ave., Tyler, is known for their burgers but did you know they specialize in shakes too? They have a great selection (some with alcohol) like the Fat Elvis (custard with peanut butter with bacon on top), Banana Pudding & Vanilla Wafer, Banana & Baileys, Creme De Menthe & Chocolate Chips. Our favorite is the Banana Foster which comes with custard mixed with bananas, caramel and sliced almonds, topped with whip cream and more caramel. It is truly drool-worthy!

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July 27th: SFO, A Journey Tribute Band at Bergfeld Park

The City of Tyler will host the annual Bergfeld Summer Showcase at Bergfeld Park, located at 1510 S. College Ave., on Friday, July 27. The event kicks off at 6 p.m. with fun and food trucks and live music beginning at 7 p.m.

This year, SFO – A Journey Tribute, a Nashville native band will take the stage. SFO recreates the experience of a 1980’s concert, playing all the Journey hits that you know and love with a special salute to Kansas and Foreigner. The band is made up of top-notch musicians from Nashville, Florida, and Minnesota who bring the highest level of musicianship to the audience.

Frontman Gabe Jacobs delivers powerful vocals to his audience by closely emulating the vocals and stage presence of legendary Steve Perry.

“This band will transport you back to the 80’s with all the songs you know by heart!” said Adriana Rodriguez, event coordinator.

The local favorite food trucks will be present for quality dining including Say Cheese, Weinerland, Lupita’s, Kona Ice and Pokey O’s.

For more information, contact Adriana Rodriguez at (903) 595-7248 or at


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