Johnson Closes Dallas Parks For Easter Weekend

Although egg hunts, picnics, and other Easter events organized by religious organizations and other community groups have already been canceled, the city of Dallas has closed all 397 city parks for the weekend.

The parks will shut down at 9 p.m. Friday, April 10, and will reopen to the public at 7 a.m. Monday, April 13.

The city said in a press release Wednesday that the parks typically see an uptick in use during the Easter weekend for picnics, Easter egg hunts, recreation, and barbecues. To continue to slow the spread, Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson and Park and Recreation director John Jenkins agreed that the closure would keep the public safe and also reduce the strain on first responders.

“I would have loved for our community to be able to celebrate Easter in our wonderful parks, and I regret that we have to make this decision,” Johnson said in Wednesday’s press release. “But we cannot take the unnecessary risk of further crowding in our parks right now. We cannot afford to jeopardize the gains that I believe we are making in the fight against COVID-19 with the stay-at-home orders that we have in place.

“The sooner we stop the spread of COVID-19, the sooner we can get back to our lives.”

“Easter weekend tends to be one of the busiest days of the year in the park system, but the department is urging the community to stay home instead,” Jenkins said. “While we miss our parks being full of families playing together, we hope they will enjoy their egg hunts and Easter brunches from the safety of their own homes.”

At a Thursday press conference, Johnson said that “extraordinary times” prompted the move.

“We gave some thought to leaving the parks open and trusting that people would be able to, on their own, keep their distance,” Johnson said Thursday. “But these are extraordinary times and keeping these parks open and needing to enforce our distancing and gathering rules could have put our parks staff, our public safety personnel, and the public in harm’s way.”

Park rangers and staff, as well as Dallas police, city marshals, code compliance, and parking enforcement will be deployed to monitor the parks during the weekend.

Trails will remain open, but users will need to keep a 6-foot distance from the nearest user.

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Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson, Digital Editor at People Newspapers, cut her teeth on community journalism, starting in Arkansas. Recently, she's taken home a few awards for her writing, including first place for her tornado coverage from the National Newspapers Association's 2020 Better Newspaper Contest, a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She is a member of the Education Writers Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Association of Real Estate Editors, the News Leaders Association, the News Product Alliance, and the Online News Association. She doesn't like lima beans, black licorice or the word synergy. You can reach her at [email protected].

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