By AMY DAVIS
Quality time together is just what the doctor ordered when it comes to celebrating dad on Father’s Day.
The Painted Hippo Ceramic Studio in Mesquite invited the community to “bring your dad, grandpa, or father figure and enjoy free donuts” on Saturday, June 18. Guests were able to choose a ceramic piece that ranged in price from $5 to $100 and paint it in a well-lit, cool room with soft music playing in the background.
Owners, Junior and Sabra Baeza, opened the Painted Hippo just two weeks ago with a dream of bringing money-saving activities to Mesquite residents of all ages.
And that’s exactly what they do. At 10:05 a.m. on Saturday, The Painted Hippo was full of people who had shown up for the Father’s Day event.
“You never know how many people will attend these kinds of events,” Junior said. “But the place is full and we couldn’t be happier.”
Who was there? Grandparents with several grandchildren, dads with their adult children and dads with a table full of young children. Although packed with lots of young children, the room was generally quiet with only the gentle hum of two-way communication. Everyone from ages 5 to 75 was totally focused on the task at hand.
John Belnap attended this Father’s Day event with his wife and two little girls.
“It’s super fun to be here with my family for Father’s Day,” he said. “It’s fun and creative, and the kids are calm and that’s all that matters.”
He made the latter statement jokingly as his daughter gave him a sidelong, “how dare you say daddy” look.
“That’s totally something Mesquite needed!” he added.
John’s daughter Harper, who was painting a rainbow piggy bank, said: “It’s so much fun being here with my dad.”
Big sister Fiona painted a pretty big dragon that was also a piggy bank. Jean painted a turtle. And mom, Sarah, painted an ornate mug.
“It’s been a long time since I painted ceramics,” said Emily Andreola, who attended the event with her father Wayne. “It’s Father’s Day tomorrow and my dad will be 75 in about two weeks. So I thought it would be a good Father’s Day/Birthday gift. He was very excited to do it today.
Wayne backed up his statements and added, “I don’t like painting, I haven’t done that since Cub Scouts. But it’s a blast! It’s a nice place, I will definitely come back.”
Wayne connected to previous years saying, “You know how in American Band Stand they said it was easy to dance? This place is easy to paint.
Wayne chose to paint a gecko because “my cat has a lizard friend he looks out the window. So it’s for my cat.
Painted Hippo owner Sabra grew up in ceramic studios with her aunt. As her children grew up, it became a favorite family activity.
“When we traveled out of town, we always took our kids to places like this,” Sabra said. “But it was still quite expensive.”
Sabra and Junior set a goal thinking they could bring a ceramic studio to Mesquite and keep it affordable for retirees, families and everyone else.
“We want it to be for the community,” Sabra said.
Donuts for Dads was another idea meant to bring the community together, Sabra said.
Sabra acknowledged that the final projects won’t be ready in time for Father’s Day, due to the frosting process that takes place after the painting is complete. “But I thought maybe it would be really special to have a place to go with your dad to spend some quality time together,” Sabra said. “And donuts seemed like a natural addition.”
“Everyone has been amazing in helping get this business going,” Junior said. “From Jensen Properties to the City, we have just had a great experience. The community support has been amazing. We have had people come several times and we are very happy about that.
Junior says his family always got donuts on weekends. He loves that they can host an official event called “Donuts with Dad”.
“I like being able to offer something to everyone,” he said. “We grew up here and recognize the need to provide family-friendly activities at an affordable price.”
Sherrie Wright was present with her husband, Ricky Garcia. They also brought their daughter Stancie Olsson and granddaughter KD Jolley, who were from Lehi, Utah.
“We used to do this when Stancie was 14,” Ricky said. “Now Katie is 14 and we’re doing it with her. It’s been really fun.
Ricky was very busy painting a large dragon piggy bank which Sherrie says is for her coins. Meanwhile, she was painting an even bigger fire hydrant to keep her dollars inside.
Mike Anthis and Alicia Reyes and their 6-year-old daughter Reina Ortega celebrated by painting an ice cream cone and a turtle.
“I’m not an artist,” Mike said, meticulously adding more detail to his turtle. “But my daughter wanted to do this, and it was awesome. I love it, it’s fun to do and it’s very relaxing.
From all sightings, Donuts with Dad was a smash hit.
The Painted Hippo is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily but closed on Sundays. On Fridays, the store closes early at 3 p.m., but reopens in the evenings from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. for adult-only “date night” projects.
The store is located in Mesquite Plaza at 312 W. Mesquite Blvd. Suite 7. For more information, call 702-344-5022 or visit “The Painted Hippo” Facebook page.