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The Tyler & Whitehouse YMCA: Strength, Health, Responsibility

ymca-tyler“Strengthening the Community through Youth Development, Healthy Living, and Social Responsibility”

By Kelly Griffith-Fields

Health and wellness typically come to mind at the cusp of a new year. The YMCA makes it their mission to help all community members build a healthy spirit, mind and body through their various programs.

“I believe the YMCA is a somewhat hidden asset,” Tyler branch President and CEO, Jeremy Bumgardner, said. “A lot of the community may not be aware of what we have to offer.”

The nonprofit organization is opening its doors to the public at its Tyler location, as well as at the Whitehouse Community YMCA, on January 9th from 8am-4pm. The open house is completely free for the community the entire day.

“I would like everyone to come out and see what all the YMCA has to offer,” Bumgardner said.

ymca-tyler-1The open house will include tours and use of the facility. Certified instructors will provide demonstrations of their group classes. Classes such as Pilates, yoga, Bodypump and Turbokick are scheduled to take place throughout the day – completely free for the public.

Each person that visits the open house will also receive a free one-week pass to the facility.

“It’s a great way to get the New Year’s resolutions kicked off right with a little assistance,” Bumgardner said.

The YMCA is committed to providing services for anyone, regardless of their ability to pay.

Pricing differs throughout a variety of membership options. Single memberships are available for all ages. Senior household membership options, as well as household and single-parent household memberships, offer one rate which covers the whole family. Financial assistance is also available for those who qualify.

“We are a very inclusive organization,” Bumgardner said. “We offer a sliding-fee scale so that when someone walks in the door, regardless of how much they make, we can help them.” The YMCA provided over $100,000 through their financial assistance in 2015.

Membership to the YMCA of Tyler also gives you access to the Whitehouse YMCA.

ymca-2As another incentive to join during the month of January, both branches are offering a two-for-one special. When two people join the YMCA on separate memberships each will receive fifty percent off their joiner’s fee.

The YMCA of Tyler was founded in October of 1953. The current property on S. Vine Ave. was donated in 1958 and the structure was built. In 1999, they partnered with the Whitehouse City Council to open a branch facility. It was opened in April of 2001, and offers many of the same programs and amenities as the Tyler location.

Amenities at both locations include locker rooms, a gymnasium, and a fitness center. Cardio machines, weight machines as well as free weights, are also available. Space to accommodate group fitness classes is also on site. There are more than 20 group exercise classes held weekly. A wide range of group classes are offered such as Zumba, PiYo, and Cardio Blast. There’s something for everyone – from Gentle Yoga to Les Mills BodyPump!

Unique to the Tyler branch are its two indoor racquetball courts, tennis courts, track, dry sauna and hot tub, and a four-lane, heated pool. The indoor pool was restored and upgraded to a saline (salt water) pool in 2006. It’s maintained at a comfortable 85 degrees. Large windows stream in sunlight across the four lanes. It is utilized during an Aqua Blast fitness class, lap swimming, free swim and more.

“Flick’n Float is the first Friday of each month,” Bumgardner said. “We show a family-friendly movie on a big screen inside of the indoor pool area starting at 6:30pm. It is great fun for all ages.”

Each facility offers Child Watch – featured times when parents are able to leave their kids with the qualified childcare staff while they get in a workout. “It eliminates an obstacle of taking care of yourself,” Bumgardner said.

“Catch,” a licensed after school care program at the YMCA provides tutoring, arts and crafts, snacks, and exercise as part of the participant’s daily activities. Core values of caring, honesty, respect, and responsibility are taught as part of the “Catch” curriculum to students from the ten area schools served by the program.

Youth sports programs are available which teach character development through teamwork, sportsmanship, and sharing. All sports teams are coed and embody a philosophy of fair play, and inclusiveness. Basketball, soccer, volleyball, and football are all scheduled on the 2016 sports calendar. To sign up, go to the YMCA website at

YMCA of Tyler also provides a licensed pre-school along side their child care programs. Potty trained children ages 2 ½-5 years old may enroll. Care is provided Monday-Friday from 7am-6pm. Activities include dramatic play, arts, music, math, reading and writing readiness, as well as field trips and more.

Summer Day Camp for children ages 4-12 is available Monday-Friday from 7am-6pm with various activities during the summer months.

The YMCA states their cause is to “strengthen the community through youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility.”

“We’ve been serving Smith County for a long time,” Bumgardner said. “We have a great track record and look forward to continuing to serve our community for years to come.”

YMCA of Tyler, Texas is located at 225 S. Vine Avenue in Tyler, (903)593-7327.

Whitehouse Community YMCA is located at 301 S. Terry Street in Whitehouse, (903)839-9622.

For more information on their programs and amenities, visit or search Tyler YMCA or Whitehouse Community YMCA on Facebook.



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

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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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