Over the years he lived in the Oak Lawn area, Mike Walker recalls the Turtle Creek Association's annual Easter in the Park as an outdoor occasion for everybody and their dogs, a big event around both the Turtle Creek neighborhood and in the gay and lesbian community.
"The fact that it was so inclusive was one of the best things about it," Walker says. "Its not a gay pride event. Easter is for everyone."
So when he heard TCA's decision to move the 25-year-old event a week earlier this year, to April 17, and to do it without either the Dallas Symphony Orchestra performance or the pooch parade, he was concerned. He says when he called TCA to ask what gives, and was told "they wanted to make it more kid-friendly," he was more concerned.
Calling it "a slap in the face to the community who has supported this park for decades," Walker fired off a mass e-mail, asking folks to give TCA an earful about the changes. He created a Facebook page for a new Easter Sunday event to carry on the tradition with a pooch parade and symphony performance at Robert E. Lee Park.
The response has been big -- 400 people have signed up for the unofficial April 25 event, but it's a shame, he says, if this is a split in a tradition that's been uniting these neighborhoods for years.
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But Cathy Golden, president and CEO of the Turtle Creek Association, says they have no interest in shutting anyone out. "Our entire goal as the Turtle Creek Association," she says, "is to try and get as many people into the park as possible." That's why TCA's going to be promoting both Easter events.
Golden says she's been hearing for years from people who wanted to come to Easter in the Park, but were busy with family, and businesses that wanted to participate but were closed for the holiday. "Our purpose is to bring event more people into the event, not to exclude anyone," she says. Now they'll have an Easter egg roll and an appearance by the Easter bunny at their Easter in the Park on the 17th.
As for the pooch parade, she says, they still have a costume contest with judges -- same as before, just without the parade. "It just took a very very long time," she says, for everyone to parade past the judges. (Though the new date's also a conflict with the Dog Bowl at Fair Park.)
With the symphony still slated to perform Easter Sunday afternoon, she says, it's the start of what she hopes can grow into a whole week of events leading up to Easter. "We certainly want everyone to help in that goal of bringing more attention to the park, where everybody feels comfortable."