Fireworks and Lasers Christen Main Street Garden, Downtown's "Park of the Future"
|Photos by Patrick Michels|
|No need to share scissors this time. Mayor Tom Leppert, DowntownDallas President John Crawford, effects engineer Kelly Sticksel and City Council member Angela Hunt ceremonially slice the fiberoptics Friday night. We've got more photos in this slide show.|
Half an hour later, with the sun set and the first few speeches out of the way, park supporters spread out a fiber-optic cable "ribbon" onstage and a beam of green light shot up, bisecting the cable on its way into the night. A fountain of sparks erupted around the laser, followed by fireworks launched from Ervay Street, exploding bright red above the crowd.
After all that, there wasn't much room to doubt that Dallas hasn't seen a park like this before.
|Dallas architect John Mullen snaps a photo before the ceremony begins. Mullen was a runner-up in the AIA's veil-the-Statler contest, but says the clean-up of the hotel facade's white accent pieces was based on his proposal. "The lady's beautiful," he says of the Statler. "All she needs is a clear complexion and an inner glow."|
Landscape architect Thomas Balsley called it "a park for the 21st century" and a "park of the future," with multi-level grass terraces, a concert amphitheater, a playground, cafe, fountains and gardens It's a park, Balsley said, that people can use, not visit once or twice and forget.
Councilwoman Angela Hunt recalled when the block was nothing more than an "old parking garage and a couple crummy, run-down shops," and said the new park finally gives Dallas a "livable, vibrant, green downtown. These are the things that make a neighborhood."
|Mayor Leppert helped fire up the crowd before Friday's ribbon-cutting.|
New York has Bryant Park and Chicago has Millennium Park, Leppert said, and "Main Street Garden's going to put Dallas right up there." "There is no city in the country that has as much going on downtown as this one," he said.
Pressed by a few late complications, crews rushed right up till Friday evening to get the park ready, even enlisting help from volunteers to stomp down the new grass, Dallas Parks and Recreation Director Paul Dyer said. Mounds of upturned earth, Bobcats and tarps covered the middle of the park, but a last-minute push helped get much of the landscaping and lighting done in time. "As you know, Rome wasn't built in a day," Dyer said. "But this park was."
Lighting designer Leni Schwendinger told the audience the park is lit to create an inviting place to visit after dark, and invited them to check out her SpectraScape light installation, where bands of LEDs in seasonal color schemes crawled across the green canopies by Main Street. The two setups working now -- all five pieces should be running in about a month, she said -- showed off all four seasonal programs last night, along with the all-white program that plays each day at dusk.
|Some parts of the park are more finished than others.|
One tree of particular importance will be added to the park this week, before its lighting ceremony kicks off Neiman Marcus and DowntownDallas's City Lights. Main Street Garden will officially open to the public the following night, with a free show from jolly old Jonathan Tyler and the Northern Lights from 4 to 7 p.m.
Check out more photos in our slide show.
|University of North Texas System Chancellor Lee Jackson said students spilling out into the park would help keep the atmosphere lively.|