Thousands beat the heat at Dix Park festival in Raleigh

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Thousands came out to enjoy Dix Park on Saturday (WTVD)

It may have been seriously hot Saturday, but thousands still made it to downtown Raleigh for some serious fun in the city's newest park.

The event gave people a chance to see what the future might hold for the Dorothea Dix property.

The first thing you notice at the site of Saturday's Destination Dix is the huge green space. Then, in the distance, there's a ferris wheel, a rock climbing wall, a portable wading pool full of bubbles, and giggling kids. The sounds of music, from reggae to bluegrass, fill the air in the middle of Raleigh.

The event is something many in the crowd could only dream about for years. Carol Howell-Moore remembers when it was a psychiatric facility, owned by the state, and it closed.


When the hospital was shut down in 2012, many of the patients moved to another facility in Butner. In 2015, the city of Raleigh finalized a purchase of the 300-acre property from the state, for $52 million.

As a result, after accepting the city's invitation to the community to come out and explore the site, Chelsi McDougal smiled while speaking with ABC11.

"So it's great that now my son, Christian, can be a part of it and see what it's like," she said.

"Look at this," said Benjamin Mount, who brought his kids to the park on Saturday. "Great turnout. It's great weather, it's a great place for families to come and celebrate this important occasion. One year anniversary of the city of Raleigh purchasing the property from the state of North Carolina."

On Friday, Raleigh mayor Nancy McFarlane spoke with ABC11 anchor Anna Laurel.

"We realized that a lot of people have never even seen this space," she told ABC11.

Many of the people came for the food, served by several food trucks lined up in a shady part of the park. We spotted several fanning themselves as they stood in line.

"But the breeze," Katrina Foreman told us, "makes it a little bit better!"

Brosnan Moore, an NC A&T University student, spoke for many who are impressed by the park while looking forward to the final version.

"Endless possibilities with this," Moore said. "It's gonna be good for the community, for young people and people of all ages."

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