Dallas Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Pauline Medrano and Brent Rubin from State Rep. Eric Johnson’s office were on hand Friday morning to dedicate the Fred Phelps Memorial Icemaker. Members of Congregation Beth El Binah joined Resource Center staff to cut the ribbon and scoop the first buckets of ice.
The money for the icemaker was collected during the Phelps clan’s July visit to Dallas. They picketed Congregation Beth El Binah at Resource Center Dallas and other Jewish groups around the city.
The fundraiser was dubbed “Hell Freezes Over” and $11,000 was collected. The previous known record for a Phelps event was about $10,000 in New York City.
“Inspiration comes from the strangest sources,” said Rafael McDonnell of Resource Center Dallas. “Without the inspiration of the visitors from Topeka, we would never have been here today to dedicate our new icemaker.”
“Eric’s very impressed by what you’ve done in regard to Fred Phelps’ visit,” said Rubin. “How you’ve gone one step beyond and made good come from a crummy situation.”
“There are lessons to be learned from this,” said Medrano. “Everybody can make a difference in the midst of bad news.”
During a city budget crisis, she said she was delighted to be at the Resource Center celebrating the agency getting money from other sources. She thanked Phelps for helping the city take care of people with AIDS.
Josh Manes represented Beth El Binah. He was happy to see the government representatives celebrating at the Center.
“I remember a time when the city would have supported Phelps,” he said.
The plaque on the ice machine reads: “This machine is dedicated to the participants of ‘Hell Freezes
Over.’ Thank you for showing how the power of caring and compassion can triumph over hate. August 6, 2010.”
In one of their silliest choices of protest sites, the Phelps clan began their day of nonsense at the Dallas Holocaust Museum. The museum marked record attendance that day as a result of the Phelps publicity.
Phelps was invited to attend the dedication ceremony by e-mail. He did not respond to the gracious invitation.