29th Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade draws 25,000, including 12 Dallas city council members, despite steady downpour


HOLDING COURT | The United Court of the Lone Star Empire’s float was one of 100 entries in the 29th annual Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

JOHN WRIGHT  |  Senior Editor

A steady rain may not have dampened spirits during Dallas’ gay Pride parade on Sunday — but it did significantly reduce attendance at the event, according to police estimates.

DISD Detective Sgt. Jeremy Liebbe, who served as co-security liaison for the Dallas Pride parade and festival, said an estimated 25,000 people attended the Pride parade, down from an average of 35,000.

Liebbe said paid admission for the ensuing Pride Festival in Lee Park was 5,800 —roughly the same as last year but well below the 8,000 organizers had hoped for in 2012.

Michael Doughman, executive director of the Dallas Tavern Guild, which puts on the parade and festival, said despite the rain, he doesn’t believe revelers left disappointed.

“I think the rain was a frustration for people, but everybody seemed to be in a good mood,” he said. “I don’t think it really dampened the spirit of anybody who was there. …

All in all, when you allow for the scenario when it’s going to rain, I still consider it a success.”

Doughman said the rain forced cancellation of live bands at the festival because electrical equipment couldn’t be plugged in on the uncovered stage.

And although final receipts haven’t been tallied, beer sales at the festival likely were down due to cooler temperatures.

But he said reduced revenue from the event won’t affect the amount given to beneficiaries — which is set beforehand — and it shouldn’t have much of an impact on the Tavern Guild’s budget.


TROUBLE AT THE INN  | Police respond to an unconscious person in front of the Melrose Hotel during the parade. The woman was taken away in an ambulance after being injured in a fight. The Melrose general manager may close off the lawn in future years due to problems during Pride. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

“We were in very good shape going in,” Doughman said. “We were at a record level financially going in, so I’m not really expecting us to be much off of where we were last year.”

Twelve of the 15 Dallas city councilmembers, including Mayor Mike Rawlings, attended the parade. The only council member who said they would attend the parade but did not show up was Dwaine Caraway.

“I’ll have to check with him and find out,” Caraway’s assistant, Sloan Anderson, said Monday when asked why Caraway had not been there. “Maybe something else was on his calendar, but it wasn’t when I put that on there … and I didn’t speak with him to find out if that was going to change or not.”

Anderson said she would call back with more information but never did so.

Other appointed and elected officials who appeared in the parade included Dallas police Chief David Brown, Sheriff Lupe Valdez, Dallas school board member Adam Medrano, state Reps. Roberto Alonzo and Rafael Anchia, and Dallas County State District Judge Carl Ginsberg.

Liebbe said there were two arrests at Pride — one for public intoxication and one for possession of marijuana.

“For an event with somewhere around 30,000 people, two arrests is insignificant,” he said. “I would say from a security and police standpoint, it went really well.”

Liebbe said one female parade spectator left in an ambulance after being knocked unconscious in a fight in front of the Melrose Hotel. The woman is believed to be OK, he said, and there were no arrests because it was mutual combat and no one wanted to press charges.

The lawn of the Melrose has become a trouble spot on the parade route over the years.

Because of the rain, the Melrose lawn suffered even more damage than usual this year and was reduced to a mud pit. As a result, Doughman said parade organizers have agreed to move announcers and a small stage — normally set up on the lawn — across the street in front of Walgreen’s next year.

Larry McAfee, general manager of the Melrose Hotel, said he’s considering closing off the lawn to the public during the parade.

In addition to damage to the grass — which will have to be reseeded again this year — parade spectators urinate in the bushes and leave a large amount of trash, McAfee said.

“Every year it gets worse and worse, and I don’t see any other alternative,” McAfee said. “We want to be good neighbors, and we’re very supportive of the neighborhood we’re in. It’s just that every year it seems to be getting a little more out of hand. I can’t continue to dump thousands of dollars into recovery.”

The Pride parade winners are:
• Best Performance — Gay & Lesbian Band Assocation.
• Best Walking Group — Windy City Cowboys.
• Best Costumes — Los Rieles.
• Best Social Commentary — Youth First Texas.
• Best Presentation of Theme — Caven Enterprises.
• Best Overall Entry — Kaliente.
• Best For-Profit Entry — ilume/ilume Park.
• Best Non-Profit Entry — Cathedral of Hope.
• Judges’ Choice: Rainbow Members Club.

  This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 21, 2012.