With a Soggy Picnic, Celebrating the First Pieces of the Woodall Rodgers Deck Park

Categories: Development
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Photos by Patrick Michels
That "rain or shine" picnic was all rain, but about a hundred folks showed up to sign the first beam to be laid under the Woodall Rodgers Deck Park. (Click for a better look at the mural by Cat Lafitte.)
This weekend they're laying the first of the concrete beams over Woodall Rodgers Freeway for the deck-park-to-be, including the Ceremonial First Beam pictured above, which served as a centerpiece for a wet 'n' wild celebratory picnic Saturday afternoon.

With 15 more trucks waiting just down the access road with the rest of the 110-foot Waco-made crossbeams, a crowd of donors, politicos and deck park enthusiasts -- including city council members Angela Hunt, Sheffie Kadane and David Neumann -- gathered 'round at 4 p.m. to admire the work of painter-cop Cat Lafitte, and do their best to sign their names onto the wet concrete. Publicist Halle Smith told Unfair Park that they stuck it out even in the thick of the downpour, on the heels of a tornado watch announcement.

By 4:30, though, the picnic had cleared out and the Sammy's Barbecue folks were packing up the meat. A few kids were under the beam, keeping dry and adding their own artistic stylings in Sharpie, while Lafitte and a handful of others looked on from under a tent.

It's the second piece of public art Lafitte's done recently, after her "friendly police"' mural on a pillar in Deep Ellum. "It snowballed all of a sudden, out of nowhere," she says. She studied art in college, but until now her work has been driven more by the private market. "Somebody wants a painting of Clint Eastwood for their TV room, I'll do that," she said.

Her mural on the ceremonial beam took about three days to complete, she said, working with artists Dan Colcer and Jose Sparks Ramirez. From left to right, the mural is a tangled mess of cogs, gears and industrial knickknacks that gives way gradually to a greener, more natural view of downtown Dallas -- "hopefully where we're headed," Lafitte said.

Jump for more photos from the picnic.
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Folks with the park foundation dry off a cross-section model of the deck park.
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We'll have more photos from the beam signing coming soon.
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