Entertainment throughout the afternoon and animals from a wallaby to a blind rescued lamb highlight this year’s event


BIRDS OF PREY | Oak Cliff Earth Day features two raptor shows. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)


DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer

In Oak Cliff, the gays plan the events, friends and neighbors pitch in, and the whole community shows up. That’s the story behind Run for the Beads. It’s how the Mardi Gras parade happens. And that’s how they do Earth Day.

Event chair Roger Bolen called Earth Day, “a community-based, volunteer-driven, shoe-string-budget, laid back event in the heart of Historic Oak Cliff.”

As many as 5,000 people attended last year, he said.

Earth Day committee member Stan Aten said people attend the event because it’s just fun. It was created by a small group of Oak Cliff resident concerned with preserving the livability of their community, but it has grown and now draws people from all over the area to get ideas on conservation, preservation and landscaping with plants that are more adaptable to North Texas’ climate.

Fair Park will have a more corporate Earth Day the following week. Aten said he saw some Home Depot remodeling projects in the Fair Park event, but he’s not sure what they have to do with conservation. At Oak Cliff’s Earth Day, he said, people will get advice that’s geared more toward conserving the environment and less about supporting big box stores.

Many animal exhibits and demonstrations take place throughout the afternoon from bees in their hives,  native reptiles from the John Bunker Sands Wetlands in Seagoville to two raptor shows.

“We’ll have an expanded Gentle Zoo with a lemur, a blind lamb and bunny rabbits you can have your picture taken with,” Aten said. “If you’ve got pets, dress ’em up, and they can be in the Mutt Strutt.”

This is casual Oak Cliff, Aten reminded. Purebreds aren’t expected, but they’re certainly welcome. Thinking about getting a pet? Rescue organizations will be in the park during the afternoon.

The zoo travels from Forney and is made up of rescue animals like a blind lamb, bunnies and ducks. Also on hand will be a baby wallaby, a coatimundi and a large but docile snake, Bolen said.

Among the more environmental projects will be electronic recycling at the park that day. People can can use this as an opportunity to discard their unwanted electronics, but Bolen adds they won’t be able to take any item with a broken glass screen.

Oak Cliff’s TECO theater organization helped organize entertainment that will be offered throughout the afternoon. Something new comes on stage every 15 minutes, Aten said.

“We look forward to having a wide range of entertainers this year,” Bolen said. “I am looking forward to reconnecting with Bandom Koro African Drummers and hearing the seductive sounds of the drums inviting all to participate. St. Elizabeth’s choir will be making their annual appearance, doing their Motown tribute.”

Even politicians will be part of the entertainment. Dallas pro-development Mayor Mike Rawlings goes on stage at 3 p.m. Bolen said if the mayor’s usual message doesn’t resonate on Earth Day, “Oak Cliff Mayor” Scott Griggs, who champions bike lanes, speaks at 3:15 p.m.

Bikes are welcome at the park. Bike racks installed for last year’s Earth Day are now a permanent fixture at Lake Cliff Park.

Aten said the event has something for everyone. Oil & Cotton will be demonstrating weaving projects, and every child who participates will go home with a small loom. North

Oak Cliff librarian Ray Sablack will hold an art contest for children.

For the LGBT community, there are plenty of gay and lesbian vendors.

Looking for a home? One of the city’s top agents, Susan Melnick, will be on hand to talk about the area’s best gay neighborhoods.

Hungry? Hunky’s provides the food for Earth Day. Spiral Diner, the city’s best known vegan restaurant located a few blocks from the park, will also be on hand.

And if Earth Day isn’t gay enough for everyone, Human Right Campaign will have a booth promoting marriage equality and other equal rights issues. How does HRC fare at such a mixed event? This is Oak Cliff. Diversity’s welcome.

Demonstration Rose Garden in Lake Cliff Park, Zang and Colorado boulevards. April 12 from noon-5 p.m. Free. Free parking is available at 1400 N. Beckley Ave. across from Methodist Hospital. Oak Cliff residents will probably walk the one block to the park.

A shuttle bus is available for visitors from north of the Trinity. From The Crescent, Victory or Downtown, DART’s new free D-Link service runs every 15 minutes and drops off at the corner of Colorado and Zang boulevards. Racks available for bike parking. OakCliffEarthDay.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 4, 2014.