Does Commemorating JFK’s Death Bring Dallas Good PR or Bad Mojo?

It was 50 years ago today that America stood still and dropped to its knees in sorrow — the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

While hundreds of thousands of people will descend upon Dallas to pay their respects and watch the ceremony, and millions more will watch from afar, I can’t help but wonder if the people that operate my fare burg are hoping for some good PR out of the looming cloud hanging over Dealey Plaza all day today.

Why do I ask? You should see the place. Aside from the red, white and blue bunting and the tons of barricades everywhere (no kidding, it takes an extra hour just to drive home from work), things are looking particularly spruced up near the Grassy Knoll. And it’s not like “JFK50” has been a big surprise. The City of Dallas has been planning for this moment since last year.

And what has taken place may not sound like much to outsiders, but in town, even JFK may not recognize the place…

The entire “trail of tears” has been gone through several times to ensure fluidity, no traffic interruptions and that people get to see everything from the movies and real life — from J.D. Tippit’s memorial to the Texas Theater to the very spot on Elm Street where the president was shot by a sniper (or whatever you choose to believe).

The historic Sixth Floor Museum will be closed today but has been open in all its dynamic (and macabre) luster all month for record-setting crowds. An international legion of domestic and foreign press has been given an entire floor at The Dallas Morning News to file stories. Documentarians have been allowed carte blanche across the city for better access. Sight lines have been manicured and cleaned for better AP imagery. And then there’s this:

Let’s just say that “X” no longer marks the spot. And that has denizens, aficionados and conspiracy theorists alike hopping mad.

That’s Dealey Plaza on a nice Autumn morning in downtown Dallas. See that white “X” in the middle lane of Elm Street? A noted conspiracy nut…theorist in Dallas named Robert Groden was rumored to tape down that mark because, according to his umpteen million times he has viewed the Zapruder filmthat is where the fatal bullet struck JFK in the head on Nov. 22, 1963.

A gruesome reminder of history … that is now history thanks to Dallas’ fine street team. You see, thanks to the people in town today, the X is missing and Elm Street has been repaved for a nice shine along the dreary trek in Dallas. My dear friend Frank Librio, who is the grand poobah of media and marketing for this fine metropolitan area, was quoted in the Dallas Observer on why:

“We are laying asphalt to level out the streets and remove any trip hazards,” city spokesman Frank Librio told The Dallas Morning News’ Scott Goldstein. “With thousands visiting the area this week, we think that is prudent.”

Translation: With the oodles of people in Dealey Plaza today, we want to make sure Dallas looks good on camera. And screw Robert Groden. We didn’t ask him to mark that fateful spot like a treasure map anyway. Not that this is a direct quote, but I know the guy, so it’s a good guess.