UPDATE: Tarrant County College has apologized to bride Rosie Enriquez Martinez. Vice Chancellor Reginald Gates visited her personally at the county tax office and also left Bud Kennedy a message: "We blew that. That is not how we want to operate."
We paid $185 million for our new county college on the bluff downtown.
You'd think we'd be welcome there.
No such luck for one would-be bride.
With her Army boyfriend suddenly deployed to Afghanistan, county tax office worker Rosie Enriquez Martinez wanted to use the riverfront overlook at the edge of campus Sunday for a small wedding.
But Tarrant County College police chased them away.
Instead, Rosie and Sgt. Phillip Martinez Jr. of Fort Hood exchanged vows on a windy downtown sidewalk, wondering why he can fight for American freedom in Afghanistan but not peacefully enjoy a public campus downtown.
After working for 15 years at the voter-friendly Tarrant County Courthouse, the bride was surprised.
"I was shocked somebody wouldn't welcome the public," she said.
She put on her white dress and rounded up a fake rose bouquet for the informal 20-minute ceremony before what photos show to be about 25 relatives and friends.
Trinity River Campus President Tahita Fulkerson wrote by e-mail that the wedding drew a crowd of 70 and needed a permit. But a spokeswoman wrote later that the college prohibits nonschool events.
Officers forced the wedding upstairs to busy East Weatherford Street, where the soldier and his bride took their vows near the curb as traffic whizzed past.
A county vehicle license manager, Dorothy Starr, sent the photos.
"When I walk to work every morning, I look at that pretty campus," Starr said.
"This was just an impromptu wedding for Rosie and a few friends. They love the river, and she and Phillip met downtown. It was the perfect place."
The wedding would have been welcome along the river or Trinity Trails, a Tarrant Regional Water District spokesman said.
Across the street by foot but miles away in attitude, a county spokesman said the soldier and his bride would have been welcome on courthouse grounds.
"This is a tourist attraction, and people should visit all they want," county spokesman Marc Flake said.
"Everybody is welcome on our side."
We paid for both sides.
Bud Kennedy's column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 817-390-7538