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Big D to show off Klyde Warren Park, Dallas Arboretum

by Yvette Walker Published: October 26, 2012

— After a long, sweltering summer of Oklahoma heat, burned lawns and baked petunias, taking a walk through lush green grass and rich foliage is the ticket to enjoying autumn. Dallas has two major attractions that fit the bill — and both have Oklahoma City connections.

Perhaps taking a cue from our restored Myriad Gardens, a new downtown park opens in Dallas in late October with entertainment, art and food.

If that wasn't enough of a relationship to OKC, the Dallas Arboretum has a unique installation of Dale Chihuly glass sculptures outdoors in the gardens. Evening light shows featuring the sculptures, called Chihuly Nights, have music and dining options.

So, first tour the Myriad and the Oklahoma City Museum of Art's Chihuly exhibit, take notes, and then drive south down Interstate 35 to experience another version of Green and Glass.

Klyde Warren Park

It's a family park. It's a cultural front lawn. It's a dog park. The plan calls for all this and more when the Klyde Warren Park opens Saturday. And, it's been a long time coming.

City leaders have long lamented a disconnect between Dallas' downtown and its near north neighborhoods called Uptown. The 5.2-acre downtown park is one answer. Park organizers explain the goal on the park website. “Connectivity is central to the park's purpose. The park will promote increased pedestrian, trolley and bicycle use between Uptown, Downtown and the Arts District, contributing to a more walkable city center.”

And it's the roof of a freeway. Really.

The Woodall Rodgers Freeway is Dallas' major downtown thoroughfare, which runs below ground, and until now was visible from above with a few sidewalk and crosswalks thrown in to help people get from one side of downtown to the other. The park deck fills in that view with tons of soil, hundreds of trees, thousands of plants and a lush carpet of grass from Pearl Street to St. Paul.

Journalists toured the deck in June and saw digital and animated renderings. Taking it all in, it's hard to imagine it used to be a hole in the ground, with cars whizzing by underneath. The cars are still there, you just can't see them. And while you'd think the freeway noise would be distracting, organizers say with all the trees, foliage and concrete, you won't be able to hear the cars.

That's good, but because city leaders want the park to become a sanctuary in the heart of the city.

“We are opening a new landmark for Dallas. Whether you call the park the city's heart, the front lawn or the town square, it's clear that Dallas is ready to turn an old freeway into a truly special destination,” said Jody Grant, chairman of the Woodall Rodgers Park Foundation Board. “During our grand opening, Klyde Warren Park will be buzzing with energy as people celebrate a major addition to our city's identity.”

The park officially will open to the public with a ribbon-cutting on Saturday. Free and public events will continue throughout the weekend. The nearby Arts District (museums, music hall and restaurants) will take part in the grand opening with the annual Art in October festival.

In an effort to bring culture to the park, several nearby groups will be partners, including the Dallas Center for Performing Arts, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Morton Meyerson Symphony Hall, the Nasher Sculpture Center, the Trammell & Margaret Crow Collection of Asian Art, Booker T. Washington High School for the Visual and Performing Arts and the future Museum of Nature and Science. These arts organizations will bring treasures to see, hear and exhibit in the park.

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by Yvette Walker
Night News and Presentation Director
Yvette Walker is Director of Presentation and Custom Publishing at The Oklahoman. She supervises the look and feel of the paper, as well as coordinates content in several special sections and niche publications. Previously, she managed online...
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