More than 200 protesters peacefully marched to the Dallas Arboretum Saturday morning carrying signs that read "Don't Pave Paradise", "No Parking" and "Help Save Winfrey Point."
The marchers flanking the Arboretum entrance and lining up along Garland Road were demonstrating against plans to turn native grasslands at nearby White Rock Lake into parking lots that would be used for Arboretum visitor parking.
The protesters encouraged Garland Road drivers to honk in support and many did. Some drivers handed bottles of water to the activists.
The protest coincided with the Arboretum’s opening of its Chihuly exhibition which features renowned, giant glass sculptures and is expected to draw huge crowds.
On Friday, a judge dissolved a temporary restraining order that prevented grassland parking. He approved a temporary order agreed to by all parties which temporarily halts the building of permanent parking lots and a garage at White Rock’s Winfrey Point, but allows the city and Arboretum to mow the fields and park cars on them until evidence can be presented in court.
While the city agreed not to mow the grasslands this weekend it's not clear when that might occur. Opponents fear mowing will disturb wildlife and damage the environment. Some residents say they'll be out at Winfrey Point Monday morning at 8 a.m. and the rest of the week to try to stop any mowing.
The protesters said one goal of their march was to make sure people attending the Chihuly exhibit are aware of the controversy. They say they also plan to contact Dallas Arboretum members urging them to oppose parking on White Rock fields.
Arboretum spokesperson Wendy Holman said the Arboretum knew the group had gathered near the front gate and “supports freedom of speech and peoples’ passions as long as it’s done in a nondestructive way,” which is how the protest was perceived by the Arboretum.
Holman said the protests did not appear to affect attendance Saturday which she described as “fantastic.” She said a lecture by artist Dale Chihuly was sold out.