Reverchon named Lone Star Legacy Park


Dallas city officials have announced that Reverchon Park, in the heart of Oak Lawn, has been designated as a Lone Star Legacy Park by the Texas Recreation and Parks Society. Reverchon is one of six Texas parks to receive the designation this year from the TRAPS award program, which is now in its fifth year.

“Reverchon reflects a long and proud heritage, said Willis Winters, director of the Dallas Parks and Recreation Department. “In the midst of a busy urban setting, with rushing traffic and high-rise office buildings and residential complexes nearby, this historic park serves as an oasis for baseball games, family outings and other recreational activities and events.”

A Lone Star Legacy Park is a park that holds special prominence in the local community and in the state. To qualify for consideration, the park must have “endured the test of time and become iconic to those who have visited, played and rested on its grounds,” according to a press release from the city.

“Nominated parks must be at least 50 years old and meet at least one of these criteria: represent distinctive design and/or construction; be associated with historic events or sites; be associated with events specific to the local community/state; be home to unique natural features.

Reverchon Park is one of the oldest parks in Dallas, having opened in 1915 when the surrounding area was attracting settlers with its water source, hunting, rolling meadows and panoramic view of the burgeoning city. In the era of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, the city used the federally-funded Works Progress Administration to turn the Dallas parks system into a showcase for the city and the new Democratic coalition.

Between 1935 and 1937, Reverchon was transformed through a series of stonework projects that included the floral amphitheater called the Iris Bowl, a fountain and the bridge over Turtle Creek. Athletic fields opened in 1920 followed by a grandstand in 1924. In the late 1930s, Reverchon became the first park in the Dallas park system to have a lighted ball field.

For the city’s LGBT community, Reverchon has been both famous and infamous. Last year, the parade route ended at Maple Avenue and the festival was held there. The Lone Star Ride held its closing ceremony in the park twice. And the park was known for cruising in the 1980s and ’90s. Most of the arrests Dallas Police made for public lewdness, etc., were of married men, and during that time the park gained a reputation as being dangerous.

In 1988, Richard Bednarski and some of his teenage friends from Mesquite were cruising Oak Lawn to harass gay men. They persuaded Tommy Lee Trimble, 34, and John Lloyd Griffin, 27, to get into their car, drove them to Reverchon Park where Bednarski shot them.  Trimble died instantly. Griffin died five days later. After Bednarski’s trial, Judge Jack Hampton made headlines and enraged the LGBT community when he told a Dallas Times Herald reporter, “I put prostitutes and gays at about the same level, and I’d be hard put to give somebody life for killing a prostitute.”

Three years later, Hugh Callaway, 35, and his partner Thanh Nguyen, 29, went to Reverchon Park one evening to sit and eat hamburgers after a night dancing at a nearby gay bar on Maple Avenue. Three men assaulted them for about 20 minutes before shooting them. Nguyen died; Callaway survived but was left crippled. He identified their attackers and testified at the trial.

The Dallas Parks and Recreation Department is one of the country’s largest urban park systems, caring for almost 24,000 acres of land and water that include 379 parks, 100 trail miles, athletic fields and natural areas. Visit DP&R for more info.

—  Tammye Nash

Frontrunners announce first Dallas Pride Run

Miami has one. New York has one. So do Chicago and San Francisco. Even St. Louis. But Dallas will get its first LGBT-centered run this year. Community group Dallas Frontrunners have announced their inaugural Dallas Pride Run set for Sept. 16 as part of the festivities for the Pride parade weekend.

“There’s never been a Pride run in Dallas’ history so I’m quite proud of it,” Lin Wang said.

The 5K race will be set early in the morn so as not to interfere with people’s parade plans for later that afternoon, but also to hopefully sidestep the summer heat a bit. While organization is still under way to finalize specifics, the race is set to begin at Reverchon Park and via the Katy Trail toward the the Blackburn bridge and back. Dog owners can get in on the action as well with the Paws Pride Parade 1k walk which will head opposite of the run. Frontrunners has also secured the parking garage across the street for registrants.

Wang feels the run will add a different element to Pride festivities and maybe even attract a broader crowd of athletes to the mix. He’s even sent invitations to Frontrunner groups in other cities to participate.

“We’re expecting 300 to 500 people. By comparison, Los Angeles has had more than 400 participants the last three years,” he added.

While Frontrunners still irons out all the details (such as registration fees, t-shirts and logos) and populates its new website, they are putting out the call for volunteers. Wang says he thinks right now, they could use up to 30 volunteers. They are needed to man water stations, man the food station and work the registration and package pickup stations. Those interested in helping can sign up on the site.

The group has been working closely with AIDS Interfaith Network’s Travis Gasper as the event is set to benefit the organization.

“When FrontRunners approached us earlier this year we were excited for this opportunity. Dallas has two walks and a great cycling event to raise awareness of and funds for AIDS. Other big cities have runs around their pride events, so we thought, why not Dallas? We have an active running community, and look forward to recruiting runners from Dallas and the region for our inaugural Dallas Pride Run,” Gasper said. “Earlier this month we found out HIV infection rates rose in Dallas County for the first time in five years. Funds raised from the Dallas Pride Run will help prevent the spread of HIV in our community. Now is the time to refocus our community on prevention, and get some exercise doing it, which is something we can all be proud of!”

—  Rich Lopez

Today is National Spirit Day

Last year, GLAAD established National Spirit Day to draw attention to the problem of bullying. To reinforce the anti-bullying message, students wore purple to school today.

Craig Cassey

This evening, the local chapter of GLAAD is sponsoring Get Amped, a 5K walk/run on the Katy Trail to benefit the national organization. The event begins at 7 p.m. Registration begins at 5:30 p.m. in Reverchon Park.

Craig Cassey, a college student from Philadelphia who participates in track and was elected high school prom king last year, will be on hand for the event. He appeared on WFAA Channel 8 Daybreak this morning with Ron Corning. The video is below.

After the walk/run, the celebration at Reverchon Park moves to the Round-Up Saloon.


—  David Taffet

April 1 is Census Day

Census Bureau

Tomorrow is Census Day. Remember to return your census forms. If you are in a relationship, mark either married or unmarried partner to be counted as a same-sex couple.

To celebrate Census Day, here’s a history of the census figures in Dallas with a Dallas timeline to put the population numbers into some perspective.

Population of the city of Dallas

1841 Dallas founded by John Neely Bryan. (His log cabin is downtown). Population: 1

1849: Dallas Snag (later renamed Dallas Herald) begins publishing

1850 Population 163

1850: Town of Dallas selected county seat of Dallas County

1856: Dallas incorporated as a city

1860 Population 678

1867: First church built in Dallas (by Disciples of Christ)

1870 Population about 3,000

This number comes from several sources but I cannot find why an actual census was not taken in Dallas in 1870.

1872: Sanger Brothers opened first store

1880 Population 10,385

1885: Dallas Morning News begins publishing

1890 Population 38,067

Only time Dallas ranked as the most populous city in Texas

1892: Old Red completed

1894: Parkland Hospital opens on Maple Ave at Oak Lawn.

—  David Taffet