UPDATE: The Pooch Parade portion of Easter in Lee Park will shift over to Deep Ellum Art Festival's annual Pet Parade on Sunday, April 5. Registration is at 11 am and the parade starts at noon. Interested parties can register online.
Easter in Lee Park, a longtime spring tradition in Dallas that had been running on fumes for several years, has finally run out of gas. Festival organizers were unable to raise the necessary money to put it on this year.
"Unfortunately, Easter in the Park is canceled due to funding," Dave Berryman, executive director for Cedar Springs Merchant Association, the event's producer, told the Dallas Voice. "We had no money to make the event happen."
The festival at Lee Park in Uptown Dallas, which included the popular Pooch Parade and, until 2012, a performance by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, had been a fixture in Dallas since the 1960s. A last-ditch crowdfunding effort on GoFundMe raised only $870 of the $20,000 needed to stage the event.
Support for the tradition had been waning in recent years. The Turtle Creek Association, which had run the event for a number of years, stopped sponsoring it in 2011 in favor of a short-lived alternative.
Although the CSMA saved the event that year, the official loss of the DSO the following year further eroded the festival's appeal. CSMA had seemed to turn things around a bit in 2013 and 2014, but this year the support just wasn't there.
One ancillary loss from the event's demise is the platform it gives to the animal rescue community, says Julia Stocker, who works with the nonprofit Dallas Companion Animal Project.
"Easter in the Park always reached out to all the different animal organizations," Stocker says. "It's disappointing it won't happen, because it means the rescue groups won't have that opportunity to showcase their adoptable dogs. A lot of people would come out to the parade, so that's a venue the rescue groups will miss."
Even with the cancellation of the official event, there are still likely to be a number of people at Lee Park on April 5, Easter Sunday, an idea supported by organizers in a farewell message on their site.