It’s August in DFW, and you know what that means? Yep, dozens of days in a row with triple-digit temperatures, and not a hell of a lot going on around the metroplex — because hey, it’s too bloody hot. Thank goodness that there’s an oasis in the cultural drought we’ve got around here, and it’s called Addison.
I’m genuinely impressed with this town, and becoming more so as the cultural year moves on. Addison is relatively small (population 14,000 or thereabouts), but it has a cultural side that’s all out of proportion to its physical size. Lessee, you’ve got the Water Tower Theatre,the Cultural Center, the Out of the Loop Festival, Addison Circle, great parks, July Jazz, and now Symphonic Saturdays, all basically in the same few blocks. There’s almost always something happening in downtown Addison, and I haven’t even touched on the other stuff they’ve got out there, like the flight museum at the airport. I’ve gotta hit that for you someday. Maybe tomorrow, actually.
But we were talking about Symphonic Saturdays, which have replaced July Jazz now that the summer has progressed. On the way to Esplanade Park, which I believe I covered fairly well in my July Jazz entry, there’s also the heroic-sized Addison Circle Park. This chunk of land takes up the entire area between Addison Road on the west to Clara Drive on the East, Addison Circle Drive on the North and Quorum Drive on the South — several city blocks at least. It’s a tremendous place that really knows how to serve the local residents, and while I know I’m not going to do it justice in this entry, I thought I’d spend some time on it.
This attractive structure, which cuts north/south through the park, is called The Pergola — a great name, considering that’s exactly what it is, e.g., a covered walkway through a garden. It’s hard to tell in the first picture, but it’s clear in the second that The Pergola is discontinuous. There are two big gaps in it, apparently to allow two sidewalks to pierce it, but I don’t know why it can’t just continue. Oh well — maybe it’s an artistic statement, or there’s some architectural reason for it. Anyway, I like the way they’ve trained the vines to grow along the top and the pillars.
At the east end of the park is Fountain Plaza, a nice picnic area surrounded and interspersed with waterways, linear pools, and, you guessed it, fountains. This area on the north side of Fountain Plaza is nothing but fountains.
This is a popular place for folks to play, especially during the hot weather. Apparently, the city doesn’t mind people playing in the fountains.* For example, this little tyke was enjoying climbing on the stairs of the fountains, under the watchful eyes of his parentals.
A lot of people (mostly but not exclusively kids) were wading and swimming in the waterways, too, which were about three feet deep in some areas. Many people even came in their swimsuits, so apparently this area is well known for the practice.
As you exit the east end of the park, you encounter the famous Addison Circle and its humongous blue sculpture (see July Jazz for a peek) and, after moseying right around the circle and on east, you find yourself in Esplanade Park, that rectangular park that’s just perfect for outdoor concerts. This week, Robert Mondavi Winery was sponsoring the event, and had a little tent selling wine (for just $15 a bottle) down at the far end. I’ve never been much for drinking alcohol on hot days, so I just looked around and tried to find a good place to sit.
As usual, the concert started at 8 PM. That being the case, I took my photos before then, because it starts to get dark around that time. In this charming image, you get an overview of the crowd.
It’s a little sparser than the July Jazz crowd I encountered last month, but I don’t blame them; it’s bloody hot. Plus, let’s face it, classical music doesn’t draw quite as well as jazz, at least not out-of-doors. Anyway, Symphonic Saturdays are a joint effort of the Richardson Symphony Orchestra and the Dallas Wind Symphony; the day I visited (August 9), it was a 16 Piece String Ensemble from the Richardson Symphony. Here’s what they looked like as they were getting ready.
To my embarrassment, I must admit that I am completely nekulturny (as the Russians put it) when it comes to symphonic music. Oh, I like it all right, but I can recognize very few pieces, particularly the classical ones — so I can’t tell you what they played. All right, all right, yes, we Americans are frightfully uncultured, but you know what? It’s really enjoyable to sit outside as twilight falls, eat a bit, have a cool drink, and listen to the music. If you prefer, you don’t even have to sit outside: there are numerous restaurants on the Esplanade where you can eat and listen. The concerts only last about an hour or so, and the company seems quite civilized, with nary a mosquito to be found (not on me, anyhow). Bring your fold-up chairs and your coolers, and it you want, bring your dogs; everyone else does. It’s a regular Westminster Dog Show out there.
So — if you’re in town on the August 16 or 23 of this year and you find yourself at loose ends in the evening, grab some food and sodas and head out to Addison. If you don’t quite make it this year, keep an eye out for the outdoor performances of Oklahoma! in late August, and mark July Jazz and Symphonic Saturdays on your calendar for next year’s visit. Oh, and did I tell you the best part? It won’t cost you one thin dime! For more info on Addison and its cultural offerings, check out their lovely website at http://www.addisontexas.net/.
*Though there are also posted strictures against skateboarding, and I saw dozens of skateboarders — so who knows?