Change was the name of the game when it came to the traditional LGBT celebrations this year, from Easter in the Park in April to the 30th anniversary Tarrant County Gay Pride Week celebrations in October.
In mid-March news broke that the Turtle Creek Association, which had for years been the sponsoring organization for the annual Easter in Lee Park celebration, had decided to move the Pooch Parade to the weekend before Easter, billing it as a “family-friendly” event called Creek Craze. That left the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s traditional Easter Sunday concert in the park without a sponsor, and many in the LGBT community angry over what they saw as a way to exclude the community.
But after the irate reaction from the LGBT community, the Turtle Creek Association teamed up with Lee Park Conservancy to hire gay event planner Dave Berryman, who quickly put together a plan to fund the usual Easter Sunday celebration by bringing in Cedar Springs Merchants Association member Kroger, along with Park Place Volvo and Metro PCS as title sponsors, allowing TCA to continue with its Creek Craze event and for the traditional Easter in Lee Park party to take place as well, complete with the Kroger Pooch Parade and the DSO concert.
In the fall of 2010 plans began percolating to bring back what had long been Dallas’ annual Gay Pride Month celebration, Razzle Dazzle Dallas. And while some questioned whether organizers would be able to coordinate their planned five-day revival of the event in time, Razzle Dazzle Dallas came back with a bang.
Many in the community reacted in anger again last summer when the Dallas Tavern Guild announced new rules for the annual Festival in Lee Park, following the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade in September. Under the new rules, the park was fenced in and a $5 admission fee was charged at the gate. The Tavern Guild also banned partiers from bringing their own coolers and beverages into the park for the festival.
DTG Executive Director Michael Doughman explained that the Tavern Guild was fencing the park for the festival to get ahead of new city regulations set to go into effect in 2012, and that the admission fee was intended to add to the proceeds to be distributed to parade beneficiaries. Outside liquor was banned, he said, because incidences with highly-inebriated partiers in the park had gotten out of control in recent years.
Despite complaints and some glitches, Doughman said after the event that organizers were pleased with the turnout — some 5,300 people paid the $5 admission — and in December, the Tavern Guild distributed checks totaling $18,700 to five beneficiary organizations.
Tarrant County’s annual Pride Week celebration also saw big changes in 2012. Organizers consolidated the annual picnic and parade, which previously had taken place on separate weekends, into one weekend, added several events and moved the parade downtown. Despite dire predictions from some quarters that the changes would lead to failure, the community turned out in big numbers to line Main Street in downtown Fort Worth to cheer a parade that included, for the first time ever, a Fort Worth mayor — newly-elected Betsy Price — as a participant. And the following day, the crowds returned to Trinity Park for the annual picnic.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 30, 2011.