I love to create worlds for my characters in Pecan Bayou, a town situated somewhere in the Hill Country of Texas. Over Thanksgiving my family and I drove through the winding roads admiring the changing the leaves, but dropping in on a friend helped me to remember just why I write about this area.
We visited the EmilyAnn Theater and Gardens up in Wimberly, Texas. Here is a little of Emily Ann’s story from the family’s website.
On December 21, 1996, Emily and her best friend, Maria Kasper, were on their way home from San Marcos when they had a head-on collision with another vehicle. Emily and the other driver were killed instantly, and Maria suffered severe injuries. No one witnessed the collision, and no cause was ever determined. Emily was buried at the St. Mary’s Catholic Church Cemetery on December 23. The Rolling family was, and has continued to be, overwhelmed by the outpouring of kindness and support from the Wimberley community and beyond.
Emily’s parents decided to give something back to the community of Wimberley and to the Theatre participants Emily loved. They founded the EmilyAnn Theatre, a non-profit organization dedicated to the building and maintaining of a new outdoor theatre for Wimberley High School’s Shakespeare Under the Stars program. The program will now also include scholarships, internships, and workshops. Their dream is for the EmilyAnn Theatre to be a place where young people can find friends, hope, hidden talents, acceptance, accomplishment, confidence, knowledge, patience, and a host of similar assets and virtues.
Here is the wonderful thing I took away from visiting this little hill in Texas that does an incredible job of celebrating life. The community of Wimberly has adopted this twelve acres and made it their own. Parents of children who have passed, veterans, local restaurants, churches, scouts and clubs take the month of December to put up light displays in honor of everyone they hold near and dear to their hearts. We had our son Andrew with us, and we rejoiced the high school Life Skills class had a display . People with special needs are embraced by the Rolling family and are regular visitors to EmilyAnn Gardens. Rebecca, EmilyAnn’s sister, said they get thousands of people who walk through the displays every year. The cost to share in this simple outpouring of love? It’s free.
Emily Ann Theater and Gardens is a fine example of what small communities do best. If you find yourself in the hill country this December and are searching for just a little of the love and warmth that goes with the holidays, pay a visit to EmilyAnn Gardens, and don’t forget your tissues.