Woof & Wine is partly to attract dog owners with their pets to Colohatchee Park and partly to deter those who come to the park for sex.
Scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 4 from 6 to 8 p.m., the event will feature wine and appetizers, vendors, giveaways and raffles. Attendees are also encouraged to bring food.
Patrick Cann, director of the Leisure Services Department, hopes the event will bring in new as well as existing park users and make people more comfortable with Colohatchee. The more the park’s used by dog owners, said Caan, the less it will be used for sex.
“Activity, in terms of programming, certainly helps alleviate the problem,” said Caan.
Over the last 10 to 15 years, the park has gained a reputation as a place where gay men go to cruise and have sex with each other on the boardwalk, in the bathroom and other parts of the park. Gay and straight residents alike have expressed dismay at that unwanted reputation.
In one of the most recent examples, two men were arrested on May 12 by an undercover detective for fondling each other on the boardwalk. According to police, the two men came to the park to meet each other. They were charged with lewd behavior and exposing sexual organs.
Resident Michael Rajner has repeatedly criticized commissioners for charging dog park owners a permit fee while the park is still used for sex. “Perhaps the city should start issuing permits for those who want to engage in public sex on the boardwalk – just think of the money that could be raised to improve the park,” wrote Rajner sarcastically on Facebook on June 25.
Mayoral candidate Boyd Corbin has made cleaning up Colohatchee one of his campaign platforms. “Safer parks for kids & dog owners – stop bathroom sex at Colohatchee Park,” reads his website.
“I checked in on Colohatchee Park on Sunday and Monday. Both days there were 5 people hanging out on the boardwalk waiting to have sex in the bathroom. I talked to a few dog walkers there. One said that nothing has changed since she has been going there. Another said there's only half the people waiting to have sex in the bathrooms. Either way it's definitely not a place you'd want to bring your children. And it's still a creepy place to go to walk your dog,” wrote Corbin on Facebook on June 22.
Dog owners, who have not registered yet, can do so at the event. The normal rules of the park will be in effect during the event.
For more information, call 954-390-2130.