What do you get when you mix 6,000 Southwest Airlines Employees and guests, food and drink, a famous Texas Swing band, a crisp, clear autumn night, and two legends of the airline industry? You get the Smokin’ Spirit Party held at our Dallas Maintenance Base Monday night (October 27). Be sure and listen to Steve Heaser’s Red Belly Radio podcast from the event, and you can find it in the little box down there to the right on the main page
This year has been a landmark year for Southwest Airlines as Colleen Barrett and Herb Kelleher gave up their Officer positions, and we wanted to celebrate their overwhelming contributions to our careers and lives in a huge Texas-kind of way. Instead of our usual spring and fall spirit parties, we planned one gigantic one, and it was quite a night.
Of course, food and drink were provided, along with vendor’s booths, photo stations, and roping experts in western attire, and Employees took the opportunity to catch up with old friends.
Approximately 6,000 people eventually showed up, and even before the main event, the crowd is getting thicker.
The guests of the hour, Herb and Colleen, looked like they had just stepped off a buckboard wagon, and they received several surprises during the night.
The first surprise came from Gary Kelly who announced that we are giving a $50,000 scholarship to Herb’s high school, Haddon Heights High School, in New Jersey. Colleen’s college alma mater, Becker College, will also receive a similar scholarship.
Senior Vice President of Communications and Culture, Ginger Hardage, (on the right) and fellow blogger, Sunny Abercrombie, presented Herb and Colleen with trunks full of scrapbooks containing the best wishes of thousands of Employees.
After Tim McClure of our advertising agency, GSD&M, presented our duo with an artist’s conception of what a combined Herb One/Colleen One might look like, the folks from Incredible Productions performed several songs in Herb and Colleen’s honor.
The Employees were really getting into the spirit of the Spirit Party, with waving the “heads” of Colleen and Herb.
Since Herb and Colleen are legends, the main entertainment needed to be a legend too, and Asleep at the Wheel performed their unique brand of Texas Swing.
Balloons cascading down from the hangar ceiling capped off the band’s performance, and it is time to start planning the next Spirit Party. However, any future parties have their work cut out to top this one!