As New Times reported last month, some Wilton Manors residents are fed up with the amount of public daytime sex that goes on at Colohatchee Park.
Cracking down on a longtime cruising destination in the second-gayest city in the country presents a unique challenge. After all, part of Wilton Manors’ appeal is its tolerant, open-minded atmosphere. Send too many cops to make arrests in a park full of gay men, and it starts looking an awful lot like the kind of harassment that used to take place back in the pre-Stonewall era.
The city is experimenting with a less aggressive approach by hosting “Woof and Wine” events with free wine, appetizers, giveaways, and raffles for dog owners. The first will take place on August 4 from 6 to 8 p.m. Patrick Cann, the director of Wilton Manors’ Leisure Services Department, tells South Florida Gay News he believes that the more dog walkers come to the park, the less it will be used for public sex.
“Woof and Wine” is arguably not the best name they could have chosen, and it’s not clear whether people who stop by for a free glass of wine or some hors d’oeuvres will return to the park with their dogs on a regular basis.
Mayoral candidate Boyd Corbin, who has made cutting down on the amount of sex that goes on at Colohatchee Park a major part of his platform, is skeptical.
“A Woof and Wine event, or any other once-a-month event, is not going to stop people from coming to Colohatchee Park for restroom sex,” he says. “We pay $7 million per year for a police department in a city with only 12,000 residents. And we expect our dog walkers to make Colohatchee Park safe for kids?”