Chip and Joanna Gaines are not ambassadors in the official sense of the word, but if anyone embodies the persona of ambassadors for Waco, the “Fixer Upper” couple would be it.

As we embark upon a new year with our January issue, we’re doing something new by naming a Person of the Year, or in this case, Persons of the Year, since these two are a package deal.

Waco has had its fair share of national attention related to tragedies (the 1953 tornado, the Branch Davidian siege, the Baylor basketball murder/scandal, and now the Twin Peaks shootout). But this home improvement power couple is putting this city in a much more positive light through their HGTV show.

The effervescent Gaineses showcase the charms and the attractions that we love about Waco. Plus, they’ve got a national following of their own, even famous actors.

Ryan Reynolds tweeted this in March 2015: “Current goal: Move family to Waco. Infiltrate the lives of @TheMagnoliaMom and @chippergaines. Eat stuff. Build stuff. Smash stuff.”

That’s star power.

I’m sure the welcome mat will always out here for Reynolds and his wife, Blake Lively, and their little daughter James (yes, James ... I just don’t understand that).

The fact that a few families actually have moved to Waco because of how Chip and Joanna present the city is amazing. But then again, why not? Waco does have a lot to love, and if the Gaineses can share that with the rest of the world, we should be thanking them.

There’s a lot going right for them at the moment. The show is a big success and just seeing the streams of people checking out Magnolia Market at the Silos tells you there’s a huge interest in them. I was always amazed to see the crowds gathered at the old Magnolia site on Bosque Boulevard. And I was a little disappointed when a relative from Fort Worth posted on Instagram about her excitement of coming down to go to Magnolia.

I thought, “Gee, great. Thanks for letting me know you were in town.”

When I got to talk with Chip for the story, I caught him at the end of a long day of interviews they had done in New York City. Despite me being interview No. 12, Chip was terrific and high-energy, like fans are used to seeing him.

At one point he stopped and said, “How am I this long-winded after an entire day of talking?”

I think that’s a question for Joanna.

In 2014, Mayor Malcolm Duncan Jr. gave them the key to the city. I’m OK with giving them the title of Waco ambassadors, too.


Waco Today Editor Ken Sury has been at the Tribune-Herald since 1998. Phone: 757-5750 Email:

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