At the time, we never did get an official explanation for why DFW NORML was barred from participating in last year's Dallas St. Patrick's Day Parade & Festival. Presumably, it was like the marijuana group said at the time: Organizers simply didn't think weed meshed with the event's new "family-friendly" focus -- an ironic stance given that year's musical headliner.
How things can change in a year. Rather than being relegated to sidewalk protests, the DFW NORML crew will be in the actual parade (float No. 50) riding a trio of cannabis-themed vehicles, to wit:
What changed? Event spokeswoman Carey Marin says that last year, "because of the timing of when the float application was submitted and the date of the parade, the [Greenville Avenue Business Association] board never had a chance to have a formal conversation about it. This year, they discussed it ahead of time and decided that NORML had a right to enjoy the parade just like everyone else."
DFW NORML executive director Shaun McAlister chalks it up to a couple of factors.
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The group's protest last year generated significant, if not blanket, media coverage, "and they didn't want to repeat that." There's also been a noticeable shift in public opinion on marijuana over the past year, boosted by the successful legalization efforts in Colorado and Washington.
Parade organizers now "feel less like they're going out on a limb and more like they're responding to the will of the people." Once McAlister convinced them that the group's volunteers, about 40 of whom are expected to show up, will be calmly handing out literature rather than hurling it into the crowd, the parade slot was theirs.
Also important, McAlister says, is "the simple fact that we're paying a grand."
Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.