Clerical error results in 20 additional entries in 29th annual Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade; Festival in Lee Park to remain open until 8


SOUPED UP  | The 29th annual Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade, which begins at 2 p.m. Sunday, will feature 100 entries, up from 80 last year. (Chuck Dube/Dallas Voice)


JOHN WRIGHT  |  Senior Editor

DV-Pride-LogoThose attending Dallas Pride 2012 are in store for a bigger parade and a longer festival than in previous years — in addition to perhaps the best weather in recent memory.

Michael Doughman, executive director of the Dallas Tavern Guild, which puts on Pride, said for the last several years the parade has been capped at 80 entries to limit its length and save on security costs.

However, due to a clerical error involving application deadlines, the 29th annual Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade — which begins at 2 p.m. Sunday at Wycliff Avenue and travels down Cedar Springs Road to Lee Park — will include 100 entries.

“It’ll be the biggest it’s been in like three or four years,” Doughman said of the parade. “We have enough musical entries and float entries to keep the parade pretty interesting from beginning to end.”

Grand marshals for the parade — which typically draws 35,000 to 40,000 spectators — are the Rev. Jo Hudson, senior pastor at Cathedral of Hope, and Dr. Gene Voskuhl, medical director at AIDS Arms Inc.

Thirteen of the 15 Dallas city council members, including Mayor Mike Rawlings, are scheduled to appear in the parade.

Meanwhile, the Pride Festival in Lee Park — which previously ended at 6:30 p.m. — will run from noon to 8.

“We decided to extend it because a lot of people who watch the parade and then come to the park afterward won’t come down there until 4:30,” Doughman said. “With the festival shutting down at 6:30, we didn’t feel like they had enough time with their $5 admission to enjoy the park.”

The $5 admission for the Pride festival was added last year to increase the amount raised for beneficiaries of Dallas Pride, which had dropped below $10,000 annually due to rising operations costs.

“It worked tremendously,” Doughman said of the admission charge. “We more than doubled, almost tripled, what we normally give.”

Doughman said the Tavern Guild chose not to bring in an international guest or celebrity this year, in part to maximize the amount raised for beneficiaries and in part to save money for next year — Dallas Pride’s 30th anniversary.

“We’re going to have some significant changes and additions and enhancements to Pride next year,” he said. “We wanted to put some aside for that, because next year will require a bigger budget.”

Doughman said details of the changes for 2013 haven’t been finalized and will depend in part on the budget at the beginning of next year.

The primary beneficiary for Dallas Pride 2012 will again be Youth First Texas. The secondary beneficiaries will be Resource Center Dallas, AIDS Arms, AIDS Interfaith Network, AIDS Services of Dallas and Legacy.

The admission charge was controversial in its first year, resulting in reduced attendance at the festival, but Doughman said he expects it to bounce back in 2012.

“Last year we had between 6,000 and 7,000 in the park,” Doughman said. “We expect in the neighborhood of 8,000 this year.”

The park will again be fenced in this year, and people will be prohibited from bringing in coolers, glass containers and alcoholic beverages to the festival.

DISD Detective Sgt. Jeremy Liebbe, co-security liaison for Dallas Pride, said fencing in the park helped result in zero arrests at the parade and festival last year.

“Any other time we get 30,000 to 40,000 people together, we wind up making a lot of arrests, and this event just isn’t like that, which is a great tribute to the community,” said Liebbe, who’s openly gay. “Let’s absolutely keep that going where we can all have a fun and safe event.”

Liebbe, who’ll help oversee 91 officers working the event, said one minor glitch last year involved long lines at the main gate to Lee Park immediately after the parade.

“Last year we ended up with a huge flood of people at the Circle Drive, and there was no line at all down by the Robert E. Lee statue,” he said. “There’s multiple gates to get in. You don’t have to come in from Lee Parkway.”

Doughman said advance festival tickets are available at Skivvies and Outlines through Saturday, and there will be an express line where people can exchange them for wristbands.

“If you want to do that, it’s certainly going to make it quicker and easier to get into the park,” he said.

Other changes this year include more portable toilets and garbage receptacles along the parade route, Liebbe said. Also, parking will be prohibited on portions of Turtle Creek Boulevard, Hall Street and Lee Parkway adjacent to the park to ensure access for emergency vehicles.

As of press time, the forecast called for partly sunny skies with a high of only 84 — which would be the coolest Pride anyone can remember.

“It should be fantastic,” Liebbe said of the weather, “but we still want everybody to drink plenty of water. The biggest medical issue we have is people getting dehydrated and heat exhaustion. … We’re looking forward to a good year with good weather where 35,000 people can come together and just really enjoy it.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 14, 2012.