Plans finalized for Easter in Lee Park

IN YOUR EASTER BONNET | Outrageous bonnets are as much a part of Easter in Lee Park as the annual Pooch Parade. And bonnets and pooches both will likely be in abundance this Sunday for the annual celebration.

Funding comes through for annual event featuring Pooch Parade, DSO performance

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

The Kroger Pooch Parade on Turtle Creek Boulevard and a performance by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra in Lee Park will mark a routine Easter in the Park.

Until last week, however, no one was guaranteeing that things would be routine.

After the Turtle Creek Association, the original organizer of Easter in the Park, moved some events to an earlier Sunday, the DSO was left to perform without an event organizer. The Cedar Springs Merchants Association stepped in.

In addition, TCA’s billing of the Creek Craze as a “family-friendly” event angered many in the LGBT community who saw that as a catchphrase for “gays not welcome.”

Together with the Lee Park Conservancy, they hired event planner Dave Berryman.

Berryman quickly put together a funding package. Kroger, Park Place Volvo and MetroPCS became the title sponsors. Mayor Dwaine Caraway’s office became involved to ensure the event took place.

Lee Park Conservancy President John Williams said that on Tuesday, April 19, he met with Berryman and DSO Director of Community Engagement Cynthia Hinojosa and that everything is in place for this weekend.

“Without Dave Berryman’s experience, it would not have come together,” Williams said.

CSMA President Scott Whittall said he was excited that Kroger has become the event’s title sponsor. He said the store has been a member of the association for years and has actively participated in the retailers’ organization for years. But this was the first time he remembered them making such a substantial commitment to become the title sponsor of a Cedar Springs event.

Petropolitan made the arrangements for the Pooch Parade. Paul Williams will emcee and judges include City Council members Pauline Medrano and Angela Hunt.

The entry fee is $10 per pet. Registration begins at 11 a.m. and the judging at noon.

Vendors will begin serving in the park at noon.

The DSO had budgeted $60,000 for their annual Lee Park performance. The cost involves transporting and setting up the stage as well as paying the 100-member orchestra. But they relied on Easter in the Park organizers for event permits, to bring in food and beverage vendors and to help ensure a large audience.

Whittall said that in addition to the scheduled events, there will be an Easter bonnet preview in the park.

Once afternoon activities in the park end, five clubs on Cedar Springs Road will host Easter bonnet contests. The competitions are hourly beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the Round-Up Saloon and ending at 10:30 p.m. at Woody’s Sports and Video Bar.

Whittall said that CSMA intends to continue to be the organizational sponsor of Easter in the Park.

Other than a number of families that participated in the Easter Egg roll early in the afternoon, the event that Turtle Creek Association moved to Palm Sunday — dubbed Creek Craze — went largely unattended. But they plan to hold it again next year. With more planning and publicity, they expect more families with children to attend.

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Easter in the Park events

11 a.m.: Pooch Parade registration opens  ($10 per pet)
noon: Food & beverage vendors open
1 p.m.: Pooch Parade begins
3 p.m.: Dallas Symphony performs
5 p.m.: Food & beverage vendors close

Easter Bonnet contests begin at Cedar Springs clubs:

6:30 p.m.: Round-Up Saloon
7:30 p.m.: TMC: The Mining Company
8:30 p.m.: JR’s Bar and Grill
9:30 p.m.: Sue Ellen’s
10:30 p.m.: Woody’s Sports and Video Bar

—  John Wright

Funding set for Easter in the Park

Pooch Parade, Dallas Symphony to highlight annual event in Lee Park

DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Event coordinator David Berryman, working with the Cedar Springs Merchants Association, this week announced that he has put together funding from several sources to ensure the annual Easter in the Park will take place on April 24.

Kroger, Park Place Volvo and MetroPCS will sponsor the event, with Berryman’s company Bravo Event Group of Texas coordinating it.

Edna Jean Robinson and friend

“We’re all set to go,” Lee Park Conservancy President John Williams said.

There was a question whether the annual event would proceed as usual when the Turtle Creek Association that sponsored the event in the past split the Pooch Parade from the concert. That group decided to stage a “family friendly” event a week earlier.

The Dallas Symphony, however, was still scheduled to perform on Easter Sunday and had committed $60,000 for the performance to take place.

The Lee Park Conservancy, which operates Lee Park, was concerned about the DSO not having an audience despite having committed the funds to perform. And many in the LGBT community were angry over what they saw as an attempt to weed out participation by the LGBT community from Easter in the Park, which has always had a large LGBT contingent of participants.

Many saw TCA’s “family-friendly” tag line as code for “no gays allowed.”

After much discussion, though, the conservancy teamed with Berryman’s company and the Cedar Springs merchants to ensure the traditional Easter Sunday event would take place.

Still, funding was needed to hire the required police and a rescue squad and to pay for trash removal that has to be contracted with a professional company.

The city waived permit fees to help the organizations stage the event.

Registration for the Pooch Parade will open at 11 a.m. The cost is $10 per pet entered. Paul J. Williams will be the emcee and council members Angela Hunt and Pauline Medrano will be among the judges. A special guest grand marshal will be announced next week.

Food and beverage vendors begin serving at noon and will be open though 5 p.m. The Dallas Symphony will perform in Lee Park at 5 p.m.

At 6:30 p.m., an Easter bonnet contest begins at select clubs on Cedar Springs Road. The list of participating bars will be released next week.

The April 17 event, renamed Creek Craze, will include a dog costume contest, and rescue groups will be at the park for adoptions. Food and beverage vendors will also be at the park.

Activities include an Easter egg roll. Children’s entertainer Eddie Coker and a DJ will entertain through the afternoon and a live band will perform at 4 p.m.

And all groups involved assure that “family friendly” means all families.

Williams said he was glad to see two weekends of activities in the park.

“I hope people come out and enjoy both,” he said.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 8, 2011.

—  John Wright

WATCH: Flash mob at Cedar Springs Kroger

You can’t see her very well in this angle of the video, but if you look closely you can see our lovely new sales rep, Emmy Stringer, among the participants in the Kroger flash mob that took place at the Cedar Springs store last week. Flash mobs, of course, appear out of nowhere and entertain people with choreography that seems random but it actually well planned. At least, we hope they entertain us. “Our House”? Not a huge fan of Madness (more of a Squeeze guy myself). Still, this is fun.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

FEEDBACK: Mexico safe if you use sense; Supporting James Nowlin for City Council

Mexico is safe if you use sense

Allan Turnipseed

Having just returned to Dallas in September 2010, after living almost three years in México City, I read with strong interest David Webb’s column, “A cautionary tale for LGBT travelers” (Dallas Voice, Feb. 4, 2011).

At first I took the commentary as cautionary; one needs to be vigilant whereever we live. Well, I took it that way until I got to the ending: “But hopefully it will be a strong reminder to all Americans that caution is more critical than ever when undertaking travel south of the border.”

With all the negative treatment México is getting in the U.S. press because of the drug wars, my only thought was, “Here is another negative murder story, one that doesn’t relate to the current problem.”

The whole time I lived in the largest city of the Americas, México City, I never felt danger when walking home late at night. I would often stroll along México City’s Paseo de la Refoma Avenue alone without ever any hesitation.

But I was always cautious. One has to be in any large mega city.

When returning to Dallas, I moved to Oak Lawn, three blocks behind where the old Tom Thumb used to be. Even before signing my lease I couldn’t help but remember when a young man was robbed and killed after having used an ATM machine on the corner of Throckmorton and Cedar Springs in 2007.

I also remembered I was moving close to the area where not too long ago a gentleman was shot and almost killed as he walked to his neighborhood bar.

So when I read, “that caution is more critical that ever when undertaking travel south of the border,” I just had to write and say not only “south of the border” but in Dallas, too. We have to be vigilant everywhere.

When I was living in México City, a city with 25 million people, I felt safe. But now that I am in Dallas, living in Oak Lawn, I don’t dare walk the three blocks to Kroger after dark.

I have deep sympathy for Allan Turnipseed, the former Dallas resident killed last month in Lake Chapala, and for his partner.

But from my perspective, Mr. Turnipseed didn’t just get too comfortable living in Lake Chapala, as columnist David Webb described it. Mr. Turnipseed also let his guard down.

He let two homeless teenagers into his surroundings — something I would never do in Dallas or in México.

Homeless and teenage males sound like a dangerous combination anywhere — especially in México, where poverty is so widespread.

But is México safe? Yes, if one uses caution and common sense.

Jesus Chairez, Dallas

Supporting James Nowlin for City Council

James Nowlin

I was so pleased to see your online article saying that James Nowlin is “in it to win it” in the Dallas City Council District 14 race (Instant Tea, Wednesday, Feb. 9).

Having a member of the LGBT community on our City Council who is qualified to serve is critical, and I’m excited that we have a candidate we can all get behind. As a community, the opportunity has come (once again) for us to support someone who knows our particular issues as well as the common concerns that all of the residents of District 14 have, regardless of sexual orientation.

These opportunities do not come frequently, and we don’t always win at the ballot box when they do. That is why it is crucial to make sure we do what we can to have a place at the table.

During her time on the council, Angela Hunt shifted her focus from representing District 14 to running a city-wide campaign. She made a name for herself (and polarized the district and the city) by taking controversial positions on the Trinity River toll road and the convention center hotel. Then, she cast the swing vote to raise property taxes.

Now, due to an obvious lack of preparation, she has decided not to run for mayor and to settle for holding on to the District 14 seat. I think the residents of District 14 deserve better than that.

I may be biased, but I believe Dallas has the most vital, diverse and strong LGBT community in the country, as evidenced by all that I have witnessed and participated in over more than 30 years living here.

It is very exciting news that James is following through on his commitment to service in District 14.

Craig McCartney, Dallas

Thank you so much for your article regarding James Nowlin and his intention to continue his ongoing efforts to win the Dallas City Council District 14 seat in May — despite the recent announcement by Councilwoman Angela Hunt that she will run for re-election to that seat.

I believe that James Nowlin will be an excellent representative for District 14 on the City Council. His commitment to the community has already been demonstrated by his considerable volunteer work with various organizations. James also demonstrated his leadership when he announced his intention to run for the City Council seat while Councilwoman Hunt vacillated between running to retain the District 14 seat, running for mayor or (ostensibly) pursuing some other career choice.

As a resident of District 14, I want my city councilperson to be someone who truly possesses a desire to serve the district — not an individual who looks at the seat as a “consolation prize” when her desire to be mayor was thwarted by individuals better prepared to run for the mayor’s seat than she.

I wholeheartedly support James Nowlin in his bid for this seat, and I encourage every reader of this newspaper to find out more about James and his hopes for District 14 and for the city of Dallas.

Eric D. Johnson, Dallas

—  John Wright

Deaths 01.14.11

Gary L. Allen, who was known as “The Uscan Man” at Kroger on Cedar Springs Road, died on Jan. 9, two days before his 61st birthday. He had worked at Kroger for 35 years and was one of two people who had worked at the store on Cedar Springs since it opened in 1998.

Throughout the years, he participated in many charity events. He won several honors for his volunteerism.

Allen is survived by his beloved dog Bo, who has been given a new home by some of his friends; and by friends Elaine and Mike Casey, John “Spanke” Studer, Mark Sharp and Rod Wait, Shannon Percell and Ronye Mitchell-Percell, Mariann Slocum and Cyndi Richards, and Don Maison.

In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory may be made to AIDS Services Dallas, P.O. Box 4338, Dallas, Texas 75208. A celebration of his life will be held at a private home on Jan. 22 at 4 p.m. Address and additional information is available at Kroger.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Jan. 14, 2011.

—  John Wright

Cedar Springs Kroger officially upgrades today

Um, have you been to Kroger on Cedar Springs yet? Likely if you’re in the gayborhood you have, but if not, head there today. They are celebrating their official “reopening” after an interior overhaul. And did they do a good job.

Gone is the dreary white space from before. They’ve spruced it up big time from wider aisles to more hot food options and warmer decor. Think Whole Foods, but more affordable. I was pretty excited about the new look so I dragged John Wright out and we ran over and snapped some pics to give you an idea of the new digs. We didn’t however partake in the barrage of samples they were handing out. I hear they’ll be doing that most of the day. And most of ‘em smelled delish. More pics below.

—  Rich Lopez

Dallas voters to decide alcohol sales propositions

Hunky’s in Bishop Arts would benefit from Proposition 2

Four propositions appear on Tuesday’s ballot in the city of Dallas.

Proposition 1 would lift restrictions on the sale of beer and wine in convenience and grocery stores throughout the city. Proposition 2 would allow restaurants throughout the city to sell beer and wine without becoming private clubs.

Currently, restaurants in dry areas that want to sell alcohol must become private clubs. The owner of Vera Cruz in Bishop Arts said his board, made up of a group of his neighbors, meets three times a week to vote members in and out. He rents a storage unit just to store all the paperwork.

Kathy Jack, owner of Jack’s Backyard, told Dallas Voice that since alcohol distributors aren’t allowed to deliver to dry areas, her employees regularly have to pick up their alcohol.

Outside an early voting location in Oak Cliff last week, opponents of both propositions were campaigning.

“They do nothing but bring down our community,” said Tyrone Rushing. “I don’t want that in my community.” He was specifically opposing Proposition 1.

“We are for a safer environment,” Rhaneesh Dixon added.

The “No” vote is being coordinated by liquor stores that line the streets on the borders between wet and dry areas. They do not want the competition. If Oak Cliff residents could buy beer and wine at Tom Thumb on Hampton Road or Kroger at Wynnewood Village, they wouldn’t cross the river to shop at the run-down liquor stores on Riverfront Boulevard.

If the propositions pass, opponents of beer and wine sales plan to seek an injunction. They claim the election that made Oak Cliff dry was a Justice of the Peace District 7 election. The current election is countywide. According to Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission code, JP district elections trump county elections and only a JP district election can repeal a JP district vote.

Propositions 3 and 4 are related to the sale of two parks by the city. For more on them, go here.

—  David Taffet

CRIME BLOTTER: Man reports gay-on-gay aggravated assault in Kroger parking lot

Most crimes that we hear about in the Dallas gayborhood ostensibly involve heterosexual suspects robbing and/or assaulting gays who are going to and from the nightclubs.

But one gay man says he was jumped by a group of eight other gay men at about 3 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 17 in the parking lot of Kroger. The victim says he was knocked unconscious and he’ll need surgery to reconstruct his cheek bone, which was fractured in three places. Dallas police have classified the incident as an aggravated assault but say they have no suspects.

The victim said he had been to a bar downtown that caters to a black gay clientele. He and some friends then traveled to the Kroger parking lot on Cedar Springs, which has become a popular hangout after hours.

The victim said he and his friends overheard the suspects doing a lot of talking in the parking lot. Some sort of verbal exchange ensued before eight men, all black and gay, surrounded him. They knocked him to the ground before kicking him repeatedly in the head. A police report states that the victim suffered “massive swelling to his face.”

“I did hear there have been a lot of crimes going on over in that area,” the victim said Thursday. “I never heard of people just getting jumped randomly. They had no reason to jump on me, because I didn’t give them any reason to jump on me. I didn’t even say anything directly to them.”

The victim went to the hospital and reported the incident to police the following day.

“It was so swollen that my eyes were closed shut and my lips were actually hanging and I was drooling,” the victim said. “It’s gotten a little better but it’s really sore and tender. It looked like a big grapefruit inside of my cheek.”

The victim said he’ll be seeing an oral surgeon next week after the swelling goes down, and it will take him 4-6 weeks to recover. He said he’s not afraid to go back to the strip but added, “If I do decide to go out I’m going to watch my back.”

—  John Wright

Coming to the site of Elliott’s Hardware … Kroger?

Ever since Elliott’s Hardware announced in June that it’s selling its flagship store on Maple Avenue in Oak Lawn, many have been wondering what will replace it. Well, The Dallas Morning News reports today that Kroger is eyeing the property: 

“We’re doing due diligence on the site,” said Gary Huddleston, Texas spokesman for the nation’s largest traditional supermarket chain. A decision is expected by late next week.

Huddleston said Kroger is “bullish on the city of Dallas” and investing in an extensive remodel of its Cedar Springs store that should be done in October.

Hey, at least it’s not Target!

—  John Wright

Beyond the Box to become pizzeria; developer says closure not a sign that ilume is struggling

Owner Doug Brown is shown inside Beyond the Box on the day it opened in early December.

Beyond the Box, an upscale deli/restaurant/convenience store that was one of three retailers at ilume on Cedar Springs, closed last week about eight months after opening.

Luke Crosland, chairman and CEO of ilume developer the Crosland Group, said Beyond the Box likely will be replaced in the near future by a “unique pizzeria.”

Beyond the Box just wasn’t the right fit, Crosland said, and the closure shouldn’t be viewed as any indication that the posh mixed-use development is struggling.

“I want to be positive about it because [Beyond the Box owner] Doug [Brown] is a great chef, and he’s the executive chef at Dish,” Crosland said.

“We’re going to use most of the items in the restaurant, and I think we’re going to have a better-for-the-neighborhood operation,” he added. “When you’ve got Kroger across the street, and you don’t have to drive, maybe the idea of having prepared food rather than served food was not the right component.”

Crosland said a sushi lounge is slated to open at ilume sometime in September. Also in the works are a restaurant from the executive chef at Coyote Cafe in Santa Fe, N.M.; and a salon/nail and facial spa.

Crosland said residential units at ilume are now 90 percent occupied, with only about 29 units remaining.

“We’re doing extremely well,” he said. “I’m real excited about the formula we’ve got there.”

The Crosland Group also plans another development, ilume TOO, across Cedar Springs at the site of the old Douglas Park and 4242 Cedar Springs apartments. Crosland said the company is working to obtain financing for ilume TOO.

—  John Wright