2002 Pride Weekend a Huge Success!

by Michael Mahler, 9/10/02

Marching Down Peach jpg (7k)The first Pride Erie weekend was a tremendous success! Many thanks to all those who made it possible. This was the first large scale multiple event/venue weekend and was held September 6-8. The primary organizers were Abbey Atkinson and Trigon, as well as Maureen Koseff PFLAG of Erie/Crawford County.

The weekend began with a very well attended kick off party on Friday, September 6 at the Village Supper Club, 135 W 18th St, Erie PA.

Saturday began with a March for Equality from the Village. Corbin Fowler of the Erie Peace and Justice Center addressed the crowd. Approximately 100 people marched. The parade route was about 12 blocks down Peach Street to Perry Square. Media coverage included a story and photo that were on the first page of the Local News section of the Erie Daily Times. Like the rest of the events, the participants included people from all different backgrounds and circumstances. The mood was friendly and happy. Miss Erie 2000, Chrissy even walked the entire parade route in heels.

Trigon First to Arrive on Square jpg (6k) The March for Equality completed in Perry Square, where the Pride Rally was held. Estimates of total attendance over the course of the afternoon's Rally are between 200 to 300. Not only were there diverse elements of the GLBT community, but also many supportive straight family members and friends.

The Rally included a number of speakers and performers in the gazebo. Among them were AnnDrea Benson, who is running for the 3rd Congressional District on the Green Party Ticket; Emory Williams, a PWA from the Northwest PA Rural AIDS Alliance; "Mambo" a local mambo band; the cast of "Twilight of the Golds", who presented a scene from the gay-themed play currently running at the Directors Circle Theatre; drag performances by Michelle Michaels, Onya Marks and Rhiannon Angelina and a letter of support from Erie County Councilmember Joy Greco was read by Abbey Atkinson.

Mambo Guitarist jpg (6k) A number of businesses and organizations had informational/vending tables in Perry Square, including Women Today (of Penn State Behrend), The Erie County Department of Health, the Erie County Green Party, the Erie County Young Democrats, Erie Gay News, Larese Floral, Trigon, Ellenbee's Gifts, PFLAG of Erie and Crawford Counties, Sharkware, Tree Hug Trading Company, Philip James Fife Hair Studios, Drew Riggs and Angelic Pride, Jamie's Jems, and the NW PA ACLU chapter.

There were carnival game type amusements as well. Salon NRG sponsored a Bouncy Boxing and the Zone Dance Club sponsored Sumo wrestling. There was also a dunking booth, which was quite popular.

Baskets with goods and services donated by local gay and gay-friendly businesses were given away at the end of the rally in a drawing.

The Rally started a little before 2 PM and broke up around 5 PM.

Michelle Michaels at Bat jpg (7k)Sunday's activities included a softball game of "Dykes vs. Drag Queens.". At least 60 people showed up to play or watch. There was also a children's activity area.

PFLAG of Erie & Crawford Counties also had a Jazz Brunch and Chinese Auction fundraiser at the Village. About 195 people had a great time enjoying good food and company. PFLAG would like to thank Leslie Clifton and the Village for hosting the brunch, Marcha Denise Vecchio for her hard work as fundraiser chair, and Alan Koseff and Jeff Hill for setup and Darla Mellring and Joyce Finn for helping with sandwich sales; and Jeff Hill and Darla Mellring for serving at the brunch. PFLAG also raffled off a number of baskets with goods and services from local businesses. Sunday's fundraiser raised over $600 for PFLAG.

Co-sponsors of the March and Rally included the Erie County Department of Health, the Village Support Club, PFLAG Erie & Crawford Counties, the Zone Dance Club, Salon NRG and Erie BAS. Supporters and donors included Larese Floral, Papermoon, Pie in the Sky Café, Gary's Flower Shoppe, Two Friends Italian Market, Phillip James Hair Studio, Papa Joe's Pepperoni Café, Matthew's Trattoria and Martini Bar, Veronica's Day Spa, Dave Hallman Ford, Roadhouse Theatre, Allen Stoneware, Cinemark - Millcreek 6, Target, Olive Garden and Poe's Café.

Pride Rally Vendor jpg (6k)Thanks for the March, Rally and softball game also go out to Kim and Judy, Michael Lecher, Leslie Clifton, Corbin Fowler, Trigon members including Abbey Atkinson, Danielle Stahlbaum, Charity, Kelly, Dan, Carrie Rogers, Maria Alomar, Radhina Ramirez, Chrissy & Michelle, Jaimi Bonczar, Brian Forsman, Patrick Smith, Dana Shelkey (got equipment for the Sunday softball game), Michelle Michaels, Rhiannon Angelina and Mary Butler. Thanks also go to the Rogers family. Trigon members made many of the signs used in the parade.

PFLAG donors/supporters included Aroma's, Arnone's Deli, Barbato's, Buddha's Body Art, Darlene's Hair Loft, Director's Circle Theatre, Harborcreek Giant Eagle. Kohl's, Irene Lucas - independent beauty consultant for Mary Kay, Jamie's Jems, Media Play, Mystic Dragon Scents, Papa Joe's, Papermoon, Pride Soaps of Edinboro, Retrospects, Strung Out Jewelry Designs, Top Hat Leather, Trigon, the Village Supper Club and the Zone Dance Club.

Big thanks to everyone who turned out to make this first ever event a smashing success and a fun time for all! Extra special thanks to Abbey Atkinson for her excellent work in organizing/coordinating!

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