Scenes from the Pooch Parade and Easter in Lee Park

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

PHOTOS: Easter in Lee Park

The Pooch Parade and picnickers returned to Lee Park this weekend, after the abrupt cancellation of Easter festivities in Uptown last year. And organizers were pleased as punch by the turnout, with the weather — which has been predicted to be rainy — contributing to the splendid and colorful afternoon. Here are some photos from the event.


—  Arnold Wayne Jones

2015 Pooch Parade and Deep Ellum Arts Festival

Posted on 06 Apr 2015 at 10:32am
Chris Watts and Petropolitan took the annual Pooch Parade from Lee Park to Deep Ellum this year, successfully transitioning the Easter tradition to a new location. Chuck Marcelo was on hand to capture the event in photos for Dallas Voice.

Pooch Parade is back on!


Cassie Nova and one of her four-legged babies at the 2014 Pooch Parade

Easter in the Park has been cancelled, but the ever-popular Pooch Parade is back on and is moving to Deep Ellum Arts Festival, Petropolitan owner Chris Watts told Dallas Voice today (Wednesday, March 11). Watts added that there is no fee to enter the Pooch Parade this year.

The Pooch Parade will take place on Easter Sunday at noon, at the Deep Ellum Dog Park, 2398 Commerce St. Pooches and their people will parade up Main Street and judging takes place at the intersection of Main and Malcolm X.

The Arts Festival takes place April 3-5 at 2800 Main St.

The Pooch Parade is “just such a great tradition, and so popular with so many people,” Watts said. “We had 220 entries in the Pooch Parade last year. And [moving the Pooch Parade over to be part of the Deep Ellum Arts Festival] is a great way for us to keep the event alive this year while we focus long-term on how to revamp the Pooch Parade and keep it going in the years to come.”

Beside being popular with pet owners who enjoyed getting to dress their dogs up in their Easter finery and show them off, animal activist Watts said Pooch Parade has also been vital for the pet rescue community.

“This is one of the few events that has really given the pet rescue community an opportunity to come together, and it has been very popular with rescue groups and pet-related vendors,” Watts said. “Last year, we had about 40 pet-related vendors and 22 pet rescue groups that participated. So this is a big deal for them, too, and we are glad we found a way to keep it going for them.”

Watts  and the Petropolitan staff have been in charge of the Pooch Parade and all pet-related vendors and pet rescue organizations taking part in Easter in the Park for several years. The rest of the Easter in the Park activities were coordinated by the Cedar Springs Merchants Association, which had to cancel the traditional event this year due to the rising costs of staging the event. CSMA had attempted to raise the $20,000 necessary to stage Easter in the Park with an online fundraising page, but were not able to get enough money pledged in time to pay for the necessary city permits and other expenses.

Watch Instant Tea here at for Pooch Parade updates, or check with Petropolitan.

—  Tammye Nash

Pooches steal hearts in parade

—  Steve Ramos

Easter in Lee Park doubles vendor spaces, seeks sponsorships

It’s not even Mardi Gras yet, but already, Dallas gays are looking ahead to Easter.

Easter in Lee Park (including the Pooch Parade) is back again, and after last year’s successful turnout, they have doubled the number of vendor spaces — from 35 to 70. Half of those will be dedicated to pet rescue/adoption, according to the Petropolitan’s Chris Watts, who once again is helping to organize the event. The other half will be for artisans, jewelers, etc.

Because Easter is early this year (March 31) the deadlines have also been moved up. Applications must be in by March 22 — or earlier, if spaces go quickly. The rental prices are the same as last year. Sponsorships are also being sought.

Anyone interested in inquiring about a booth, or a sponsorship, should contact Watts at

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Top 10: Celebrations saw major changes


PARADES AND PARTIES | Razzle Dazzle Dallas returned as a five-day event with crowds filling the street for the big Saturday night extravaganza. (Chuck Dube/Dallas Voice)

No. 7

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.

—Tammye Nash

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 30, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

WATCH: ‘Spontaneous entertainment’ during the DSO’s performance at Easter in the Park

In response to our slideshow from the Pooch Parade, a Facebook friend directs us to the above footage of two would-be dancers who took to the grass stage during the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s performance at Easter in the Park on Sunday. The title on YouTube refers to the pair’s performance as “spontaneous entertainment,” but the one and only comment below the video might be a better description: “More like the reason we are having to pay to attend pride this year entertainment.”

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Vigil planned outside McDonald’s where transgender woman was brutally beaten

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

Chrissy Lee Polis

1. A vigil is planned tonight outside the McDonald’s in Baltimore where a transgender woman was brutally attacked, beaten and dragged across the floor on April 18 before apparently suffering a seizure. Shocking video of the incident, captured by a McDonald’s employee on his cell phone, has gone viral over the last several days. The 22-year-old victim, Chrissy Lee Polis, spoke out about the incident, which she says was a hate crime, in an interview with the Baltimore Sun above. Two female suspects, ages 14 and 18, have been arrested, and the employee who filmed the attack has been fired. If you haven’t seen the video of the incident yet, you can watch it here.

2. A Tennessee pastor is set to appear in federal court today on charges related to the epic Lisa Miller-Janet Jenkins lesbian custody case. Timothy David Miller, 34, is accused of helping Lisa Miller and her daughter flee to Central America after she renounced homosexuality and refused to comply with court-ordered visitation. Lisa Miller and Janet Jenkins entered a civil union in 2000 in Vermont, and their daughter, Isabella, was born in 2002. After the couple broke up in 2003 and Miller renounced homosexuality, she refused to allow Jenkins to see Isabella because she’s a lesbian.

3. Don’t miss our slideshows from the Pooch Parade at Easter in the Park and the Cedar Springs Art Festival.

—  John Wright

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

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.


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