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Look Who's Singing Happy Birthday To Klyde Warren Park: The Opera's 'Carmen'!

Klyde Warren Park in Dallas is celebrating its one-year anniversary this weekend. Festivities feature an outdoor simulcast of the Dallas Opera’s production of “Carmen,” which starts at 8 p.m. Friday.

Park president Tara Green suggests you dress up as your favorite Carmen and get there early for a pre-show singalong. Green is hoping for big crowds this weekend to push the park past 1 million visitors.

So, how does a park with no walls know how many folks have walked through? 

“We take clicker counts,” Green says. “We walk through the park five or six times a day and we’re taking headcounts.”

Green says the 5-acre park offered 900 free programs during the first year, hosted 50 special events and saw a dozen marriage proposals.  And the biggest surprise?

“Food trucks,” Green said. “That was an unintended consequence of the park. We didn’t intend to ever be in the food truck business, but they’ve been wildly successful.”

The most popular attraction has been the children’s playground. That’s what brings Naftali Ben-Meir to the park almost every day.

“I live right across the street so it’s convenient for me so I can bring her,” the Dallas resident says. “It’s nice to have a great park in a great locations.”

Larry Palmer from Dallas and Meena Yoo from Los Angeles were first-time park visitors this week.

“Very impressed. To have this over a major highway is pretty incredible,” Palmer says.

Yoo says: “It’s a nice oasis in the middle of the tall buildings.”

Private donations funded more than half of the $100 million price tag. A newly-created Public Improvement District taxes surrounding businesses for park maintenance and operations. 

Randy Smith, an enthusiastic repeat visitor, says the investment is paying off.

“I couldn’t image it when I first read about it,” he says. “But then when I saw it in real life it was beyond anything I could imagine. I love it.”

Former KERA reporter BJ Austin spent more than 25 years in broadcast journalism, anchoring and reporting in Atlanta, New York, New Orleans and Dallas. Along the way, she covered Atlanta City Hall, the Georgia Legislature and the corruption trials of Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards.