Pride Picnic 2003 Recap

by Michael Mahler

About 270 people, an all time record, came together to celebrate the 11th annual Pride Erie Picnic at Presque Isle, Beach 11 on June 14, 2003. Once again, we had hot dogs and hamburgers and folks brought a yummy assortment of dishes. There were about 225 people at last year's picnic, which was the previous record amount for attendance.

Thanks to Coca Cola of Erie for donating soda, Paper Moon, Plymouth Tavern, Two Friends Italian Market and Antler's Pub for donating cases of water, plates and etc. We are also grateful to the Zone for donating the hamburgers, cheese and hot dogs, and the Village for donating buns and ice.

As has always been the case, folks brought their friends, families and pets. We had people from Pennsylvania, New York and Ohio. We also had a wide range of ages and backgrounds attending. One attendee emailed afterwards that he liked the Erie picnic more than one of the nearby cities because it was more like family, whereas the other city's felt more commercial and less personal. Two women from San Francisco were back in the Erie area for a graduation ceremony and joined us at the Pride Picnic after hearing about it.

Again, we really feel that the picnic was such a success because so many people interacted one on one with others who may not have known about the event. All of us working together help our community to have an event to be extra proud of!

Thanks to Paul Grubbs, Don, Ken Blood, Dave Amy, Matthew Miller, and Patrick for setup/truck driving. One of the original truck drivers wasn't able to make it, so extra special thanks to Paul Grubbs, Don and Ken Blood for stepping in when needed.

Big thanks also to Dave Amy, and Bob for cooking. We had a slight bit of a difficulty when we realized only 1 spatula had been packed for cooking. The cooks mysteriously balked at the possibility of turning meat with their bare hands and facing third degrees burns (wimps!), so thanks to Larry for emergency cookware delivery. Many thanks to everyone for bringing such a delicious array of food!

There were some info tables and personnel on hand. The Health Department had safer sex info, and the Hispanic American Council as well. Steve Glassman of SPARC was able to get almost 150 signatures to send to elected officials to amend the PA Human Relations Act, our state's version of civil rights legislation. People who signed had to be PA residents and over the age of 18, so not everyone was able to sign. Trigon had a display about the upcoming Pride Weekend happening on September 12-14. The Green Party also had info, as did the Crime Victim Center, PFLAG and other organizations.

We would like to thank Rashima for being dot mistress and diligently passing out numbered stickers, so we knew how many people attended. It was very edifying to see that we had a slight increase and that there were so many first time people.

We took the picture in a slightly different spot at the beach than in years past. Folks also played volleyball and caught up with old and new friends. Big thanks to Deb Spilko, who took photos throughout the day and Brian Skelly, who took the group photo!

Big thanks to those who helped with clean up, including Dave Amy, Brian Skelly, Matthew Miller, Larry, and Evan.

And, as always, many thanks to those of you who talked with friends, or mentioned in chat rooms, and otherwise helped us get the word out. Thanks to everyone who came and made the day so enjoyable!

For next year's picnic, we are considering trying to move to the larger space at the Cookhouse, by Beach 6. This would have the additional advantages of having electricity, and much more space (the pavilion is only rated for 80 people, but the cookhouse is rated for 240), and the info area spills into the end of the end of where food is), and it is also located closer to the entrance, so missing something wouldn't mean having to do without.


Also view photos here.

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