Local Christmas tree farm owner raising money for successful German folk dancing program
WACO, Texas (KWTX) - A local Christmas tree farm owned by a retired schoolteacher is using the traffic they get during the holiday season to raise money for the top ranked high school German folk dancing team in Texas, which she founded and led for nearly a decade.
Radde Tannenbaum Tree Farm owner Kathy Radde started the German program at Whitney High School in 1984 and added a German dance team in 2000. She led the team until she retired from teaching in 2011 but has remained close to the successful program, which has won three state titles since 2019 in German folk dancing.
Kathy not only employs members of the dance team to work seasonally at the farm, she also sells Christmas Advent calendars in her gift shop with all proceeds going to help fund the team.
“My heart is with German” Kathy said. “I was the German teacher at Whitney for 27 years and my heart is just in that, and I want to support them any way I can.”
The $5 calendars sit right next to the register in the tree farm gift shop with a sign that reads “proceeds go to help the Whitney High School German Dancers.”
The sign sparks conversations between the owner and customers.
Kathy says people are often surprised to find out the best German dancers anywhere around are in the small community of Whitney at a 3A high school.
“They’re so dedicated and they have such a feeling of belonging and comradeship and competition,” she said.
Kathy’s first team dance was in 2000 and she admits the program has come a long way since then.
“The first dances we did were so simple,” Kathy said. “You would be amazed at the very intricate wonderful authentic German folk dancing routines that they do now.”
Kacie Davis is a senior who has been part of the award-winning team all four years of high school and helped bring home the gold in 2019, 2021 and 2022. 2020 the competition wad canceled because of COVID.
“It’s just something different,” Kacie said. " It’s something that adds culture to our small town and adds more things to do , more fun to have.”
Kacie is also an employee at the tree farm and says the support Mrs. Radde shows goes a long way.
“It helps a lot because our German dance team is mostly self-funded, like our school doesn’t provide many funds for us,” Kacie said.
Lisa Mays is the current German teacher who oversees the dancers with the help of Haley and Ethan Becker, a married couple who works at the intermediate school.
The team practices once a week before school as well as in the afternoon.
“They enjoy having something that they work together to make it better,” Lisa said. “And we’re not on our phones when we’re doing this unless we’re looking up how to do a dance. Most of these dances are about 100 years old.”
The dancers will compete for the state title again February 25 at the Texas State German Contest at Texas State University in San Marcos.
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