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

Easter in the Park back on; so is Creek Craze

EASTER PARADE | The pooch parade, a picnic and a concert by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra in Lee Park are an Oak Lawn tradition.

After Easter in the Park was dismantled, the Lee Park Conservancy and Cedar Springs Merchants put it back together

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

The annual Easter in the Park picnic, Pooch Parade and concert that draws hundreds to Lee Park each Easter Sunday nearly unraveled before being put back together this week.

Groups that were competing just a few days ago are now working together to stage two Sundays of events in Lee Park.

While final funding is not yet in place, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra concert in Lee Park that begins a series of free outdoor concerts will remain on Easter Sunday. What had been billed as “family-friendly” events the week before — including an Easter egg roll for children, concessions and vendors — will take place on Palm Sunday.

While the two weekends were still in competition last week, John Williams, president and CEO of the Lee Park and Arlington Hall Conservancy, put the best face on it and said he preferred to think of the weekends as “bookended Easter week events.”

That’s not how some members of the LGBT community in Oak Lawn saw it. “Family-friendly” was taken as an anti-gay buzzword, and detractors described TCA as homophobic, calling the Easter in the Park event including the Pooch Parade “hijacked.”

The Conservancy operates Lee Park while the Turtle Creek Association, a neighborhood group that has landscaped medians along Turtle Creek Boulevard and Lemmon Avenue near Lee Park to supplement city services, runs events — including the popular Easter in the Park.

Most of the concern in the LGBT community centered around moving the Pooch Parade — an event started by the LGBT community — to an event that most in the LGBT community had no interest in attending or that they perceived they were not welcome to attend.

TCA renamed it the Pet Costume Contest that would be hosted by 98.7 KLUV’s Jody Dean.

Williams said the Conservancy understands how seriously members of the community treat their canine family members, which is why his group created a special membership category for dogs.

Keith Nix, a gay board member of TCA, said that “family-friendly” meant all families and the LGBT community was certainly welcome. They wanted to create an Easter event for children but no slight, he said, was ever intended.

After calls from Dallas Voice, Williams met with the representatives of the Cedar Springs Merchants Association and with David Berryman, who has worked with Dallas Tavern Guild for years and was grand marshal of the 2010 Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade. Berryman operates a company called Bravo Event Group.

Williams was concerned because the DSO had not been contacted about the date change and the orchestra was still scheduled to perform on Easter Sunday. The orchestra had $60,000 committed to setting up and performing in Lee Park that day, with or without an audience.

To put Easter Sunday back together, Williams convinced TCA to call the events in the park on Palm Sunday something other than Easter in the Park. They’re billing it now as Creek Craze.

On Monday, Williams, Berryman and TCA President Cathy Golden met with Mayor Dwaine Caraway’s chief of staff, Chris Heinbaugh.

In previous years, the Park and Recreation Department picked up the cost of the Pooch Parade. This year, that department is short of funding, affecting both weekends’ dog events.

The city agreed to pick up some of the costs including permits for Easter in the Park.

However, Berryman, who became the event coordinator this week, said that they are scrambling to find underwriting.

In the last year, his company staged the successful Cedar Springs Super Street Party, the annual Christmas Stocking Auction at the Round-Up Saloon and the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade and Festival in Lee Park.

But Berryman had much longer lead times to line up sponsors.

He said that he has budgeted $14,000 to cover required expenses including police and medical, printing, street closure, insurance, port-o-potties, clean up and trash removal. Off-duty police officers, he said, must be hired based on the number of people expected at the park. By city ordinance, two Dallas Fire and Rescue EMTs and an ambulance must be on hand.

Recent changes to city ordinances do not allow volunteer squads.

Scott Whittall, president of the Cedar Springs Merchants Association, said, “We’re trying to get it underwritten,” and he said he was confidant the money would be found.

Berryman said that permits must be in place so that people can drink in the park. Open containers are not allowed in city parks without special event permits. If funding did not materialize and Easter in the Park falls through, picnickers watching the DSO could be issued citations if caught with alcohol.

But Williams said that other than underwriting, the event is already organized.

“We’re just waiting for funding,” Williams said on Thursday morning.

He said he was working directly with Heinbaugh and they have been in touch daily this week. The mayor’s office is helping them line up title sponsors for both events.

“We have everything in place, so as soon as the money’s there, we’re ready to go,” Williams said.

By the middle of the week, TCA, CSMA, Dallas Tavern Guild and the Conservancy were planning to cross-promote each other’s weekends.

In the long run, John Williams said, he thought this brought a number of disparate groups together that would work with each other in the future.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 18, 2011.

—  John Wright

Easter in the Park to go forward as scheduled despite rumors, but Pooch Parade still up in air

The Pooch Parade in Lee Park.

Despite rumors and after some behind-the-scenes negotiating, Easter in the Park will take place as usual on Easter Sunday, April 24.

The Turtle Creek Association, which has staged the event for years, decided to move some of the activities to the Sunday before Easter, April 17, for a family-friendly event. While some members of the LGBT community took that to mean gay-unfriendly, Keith Nix of TCA assured everyone that “family” means all families.

The April 17 event will include a DJ and an Easter egg roll for children.

The Dallas Symphony Orchestra will begin its season of free concerts in city parks with its Easter Sunday concert in Lee Park. According to Lee Park and Arlington Hall Conservancy President and CEO John Williams, that event has not changed. Vendors will be at the park selling food and drinks, and he encouraged everyone to come with their blankets for the annual picnic.

What is still not resolved is the Pooch Parade. The Turtle Creek Association was planning to move the Pooch Parade to the week before Easter, April 17. After an outcry from the LGBT community, the Cedar Springs Merchants Association met with the Conservancy last Friday.

On Monday, all of the groups involved met with Chris Heinbaugh in Dallas Mayor Dwaine Caraway’s office, about funding. The expense involved includes a required number of Dallas police to close Turtle Creek Boulevard and provide security. Cleanup also must be provided professionally, not with volunteers, by city ordinance.

More on Easter in the Park and the fate of the Pooch Parade in Friday’s Dallas Voice.

—  David Taffet

A chance to welcome back 2 straight guys who just pedaled to Austin and back for your rights

Justin Snider, left, and Chris Linville, during their first training ride to Austin.

The other day we told you about two straight allies from Dallas, Chris Linville and Justin Snider, who are training for a cross-country bicycle ride next year to raise money for the Human Rights Campaign.

Linville and Snider are currently wrapping up their first training ride, a four-day, 400-mile trek from Dallas to Austin and back.

Carl Andrews, of HRC’s DFW Federal Club, informs us that there will be a brief ceremony to welcome the pair back at 7:45 p.m. today at the Vendome, at Lemmon Avenue and Turtle Creek Boulevard. But if you can’t make it, you can at least send them an e-mail thanking them. For more info, go here.

—  John Wright

92 entries, 35,000 spectators expected for Pride parade

CLICK HERE TO READ SOME PRIDE SAFETY TIPS FROM LGBT LIAISON OFFICER LAURA MARTIN

Tammye Nash  |  Senior Editor nash@dallasvoice.com

Dallas Pride Parade
COLORS OF PRIDE | Resource Center Dallas is one of the many community organizations that usually have a float in the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade.

Between 30,000 and 35,000 are expected to crowd into Oak Lawn on Sunday, Sept. 19, for the 27th annual Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade, Dallas’ annual LGBT Pride parade that this year celebrates the theme, “One Heart, One World, One Pride.”

Michael Doughman, executive director of Dallas Tavern Guild which presents the parade each year, said this week the parade will include about 92 entries. It will travel the traditional route, with entries lining up along Wycliff Avenue and then moving down Cedar Springs Road to Turtle Creek Boulevard before turning left to wind up at Lee Park.
The Festival in Lee Park takes place at the conclusion of the parade.

Doughman said that members of Youth First Texas, once again the parade beneficiary, will lead the way, carrying the parade banner. They will be followed by a color guard consisting of former military servicemembers from the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, and then a mounted color guard provided by the Texas Gay Rodeo Association.

Then comes the “VIP section,” which will include grand marshals Paul Lewis and Erin Moore, Houston Mayor Annise Parker as honorary grand marshal, and then local city and county officials, such as Police Chief David Brown, Fire Chief Eddie Burns Sr., members of the Dallas City Council and Sheriff Lupe Valdez.

“We understand that Mayor Parker’s son will be riding in the parade with her, and I think by now everybody knows that [Democratic gubernatorial candidate] Bill White will be walking with the Stonewall Democrats in the parade,” Doughman said.

“I think most of the entries will probably follow our theme this year, which is really all about unity,” he added. “This theme matches the goal of our parade and our community, which is unifying our community and our people.”

Doughman said there is “nothing really new” about the way the parade will happen this year.

“We just work to make it run as smoothly as possible and take out any hiccups or delays. We just want to keep it moving as smoothly and steadily as possible down the road so that the spectators are entertained,” he said.

There will, however, be something new for the Festival in Lee Park. Food services during the festival this year will be handled exclusively by Brinker, the parent company for restaurant chains On The Border, Chili’s and Maggiano’s.

“We really liked the idea of having these recognizable brands out there for the food. We think it is a real step up,” he said. “We think they will do very well, and on top of that, they have agreed to give us a portion of their proceeds to give back to our beneficiary.”

This means there will be a “much larger” food and beer pavilion in the upper part of the park, giving those attending the festival better and quicker service, Doughman said.
Voice of Pride top finishers Mel Arizpe, Laura Carrizales and Juliana Jeffrey will perform during the festival, as will Anton Shaw and her band.

Derek Hartley of “The Derek and Romaine Show” on Sirius XM OutQ Radio will emcee the festival.

Thanks to the economic recession and the ever-increasing costs and requirements of staging the event, finances have created some problems for the parade in recent years. This year, though, things are looking up, Doughman said.

“I think we are OK this year. We had some real struggles in 2008, and last year was still pretty tight because of the economy. But we found some extra sponsors this year, and we did well in raising money during the Voice of Pride competition this year,” Doughman said. “Our main goal each year is to be able to give our beneficiary the amount we have committed to and still be able to pay for the parade and maintain the administrative costs of the Tavern Guild through the rest of the year.”

Doughman said the Tavern Guild doesn’t really generate any revenue until the later stages of VOP and then when the entry fees for the parade start rolling in each year. “So we have to balance everything out to have enough money to cover expenses through the rest of the year,” he said.

“Actually, we are paying a lot of the bills that are due this week, and we will be able to pay the balance of the expenses — things like the cost of added security, renting barricades, cleanup and sanitation costs — right after the parade,” he said.

Doughman noted that the city has recently increased the requirements applicants must meet to get a parade permit, but still the Tavern Guild shouldn’t be looking at any red ink when it is all said and done.

“We won’t be rolling in it by any means. But we did see enough light on the horizon this year to go ahead and invest in new flags and flag holders to put up along Cedar Springs. The old flags were so beat up and faded that we didn’t even put them up last year,” he said.

“We never have an excess of money after the parade because the costs of putting it on are so significant, but we should be OK this year,” Doughman said.

One way the Tavern Guild has cut costs, he added, is by not paying to bring in celebrity guests and performers.

“I think people enjoy the day, whether there are celebrities here or not. We just want to give the people a good parade and a good festival and let them have a great time. That’s why they come out in the first place.”

The 27th Annual Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade begins at 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 19.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 17, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens