HISTORY OF THE ROCHESTER PAGAN PRIDE DAY FESTIVAL
– Sandy Caswell and her group, Willow Grove coordinated the first Pagan Pride Festival in New York State. It was held at Brighton Town Park. 120 people attended. The Community Circle was led by Sandy. Members of The Faerie Grove, The Lodge of Isis, Witches of Lore and WIllow Grove represented the quarters. There were a few merchants and a family picnic atmosphere. Sandy was interviewed on the radio and for an article in the D&C. The Brighton Town Post mentioned the event and City paper had a three page article. There was a wonderful photo of Chris Ogrodowski (Faerie Grove) on the cover of that paper.
– Event held in September at the Unitarian Universalist Church on Winton Rd., Rochester, NY. Festival organized by Cindy Glaze, Local Coordinator. Luna established the RPPF website and e-mail lists for planning and announcements. Ritual was conducted by Alan. Steven Chabot was Treasurer. Approximately 200 people attended. There were approximately 10 merchants and various workshops held throughout the day as well as a fantastic spontaneous drumming circle, followed by chanting conducted by Sandy Caswell. A write up by Jay Tolkas appeared in the Democrat & Chronicle and some participants were interviewed about pagan parenting for an article which appeared on Halloween.
– Event held in September at Pineway Ponds Park in Ogden from 10AM-6PM. Approximately 300 people attended – approximately 15 merchants and some diviners. Festival organized by Laura Hammond and Melissa Pillar from Kenmore. Steven Chabot was Treasurer. Deb Gaiteri organized adult workshops. Jen D and Ellyn from Syracuse organized and conducted children’s activities. Dave, Bridget and Traci were in charge of Merchants. Publicity and media packets organized by Traci. Rituals organized by Linda Fleming and conducted by KORE group, Northeast Council of W.I.C.C.A. and Three Songs Protogrove. Breakfast provided by Salem who also secured Pineway Ponds Park for our event. Hel and Salem organized the security team. RPPD provided lunch for security. Luna organized our first Goddess 2000 project art exhibit featuring the works of Laurie, Laura, Stacey Smith, and Karen. Kau was our PA tech and provided the PA system for this event. Raffles/Auctions as fundraisers were added. First Aid services provided by Joe Fleming.
– Festival held at Pineway Ponds Park in Ogden 10AM – 6PM. approximately 375 attended. Local Coordinator - Laura Hammond, Jen organized the children’s workshops/activities, Gina and Linda Hanley organized adult workshops. Raffles/auctions were held. We had approximately 20 merchants. Rituals conducted by KORE Group, Northeast Council of W.I.C.C.A. and Three Songs Protogrove. PA provided by Big Mike. Security organized by Salem and lunch provided for security by RPPD. We also presented the Goddess 2002 art exhibit “Light of Transformation” – featuring Goddess Art works from various local artists in celebration of the Goddess 2000 Project. Lisa created a goddess sculpture which was the centerpiece of the festival and became our Web Magician as well as helping in other areas. Luna secured Patricia Telesco noted pagan author and lecturer as our Guest Speaker. EMT services provided by Nick of The Flying Broomstick in Albion, NY.
– Festival organized by Laura Hammond, Local Coordinator – held at Ellison Park, Rochester, NY from 11AM-6PM. approximately 400 attended – John organized the adult workshops and Keri organized children’s workshops including a Bubble Pipe Ceremony. Raffles/auctions were held. We had approximately 18 merchants and diviners. Opening ritual conducted by Temple of the Azure Lotus, closing ritual conducted by The Celtic Learning Circle. Matthew Galleli master of creating labyrinths generously lent us his talent to provide a labyrinth for RPPD. We also set up an altar for meditation and reflection. Mike organized security, the Registration table and ran our PA system. Lisa was our Web Magician and graphic artist. Barbara was named Treasurer and obtained our EIN number for us. All food donations went to Kuan-Yin’s Cupboard (pagan food pantry) sponsored by Psychic’s Thyme, Othala Grove and Northeast Council of W.I.C.C.A. Fundraisers included our 1st ever and now infamous Dessert & Divination which is a creation of our newest member, Konnie Collins.
– Festival organized by Laura Hammond, Local Coordinator – held at Ellison Park, Rochester, NY from 10AM-6PM. Approximately 600 attended – Linda Hanley organized adult workshops, Laurie, Jen and Kelly organized the children’s activities - Rochester Wild Wings presented to an overwhelming response and Madeleine presented Tarot for Kids. We had approximately 20 vendors and diviners. Rituals were conducted by KORE Group and M. Macha Nightmare and closing ritual presented by Circle of the Green. M. Macha Nightmare, noted author, teacher and ritualist and among the founders of Reclaiming Tradition Witchcraft was the guest speaker, and she also conducted a workshop entitled “The Pentacles of Iron and Pearl” the evening prior to RPPD as a fundraiser. Big Mike was our PA person and Luna organized security and merchants, as well as advertising and promotions. Lisa maintained the RPPD website and is responsible again for all our amazingly beautiful graphics. Fundraisers included Desert and Divination, and the two new mini-events, A Midsummer Nights Dream for Litha and Caritas, our first ever Karaoke Night. At the Registration Table we also had a jar for monetary donations to AIDS, Rochester ($110.00 collected) and 171 lbs of food items collected went to AIDS, Rochester. A write-up appeared in the Democrat & Chronicle Insider about our event and we were mentioned on RNEWS. This year was also marked by a long awaited combining of efforts on the parts of other Pagan Pride events in Upstate New York.
– Festival organized by Linda Hanley, Local Coordinator and Luna, Co-Coordinator – held at Ellison Park, Rochester, NY from 10AM-6PM. Approximately 700 attended our event this year.
Myriah of Othala Grove organized a wonderful variety of adult workshops.
Laurie, Lisa W., Jen and Kelly organized activities for the kids. They set up a security system for the kiddie area and kept the children busy while parents attended workshops throughout the day. Children’s activities ran from 10AM until 5PM and included storytelling, Tarot for Kids led by Madeleine, Spirit Drawings by JD Aricchi, drum making with Elly, and Native American Prayer Ceremony for Children with Stosh "seeker" Kawczynski. Rochester Wild Wings, Inc. presented for the 2nd year and received an overwhelming response – always a huge hit with both children and adults.
Barbara kept us on track financially by maintaining our checking account, creating a budget, creating a monthly spreadsheet, writing checks and depositing donations.
Circle of All Paths kicked off RPPD 2005 by conducting opening ritual and Circle of the Green presented closing ritual. Both were spiritually inspiring and well attended.
Thanks to Luna - Raven Grimassi, noted author, lecturer and teacher was our guest speaker along with Stephanie Grimassi. They graciously signed books and greeted all who stopped by to see them. They presented "Witchcraft At The Crossroads" to an overflowing audience. Stephanie and Raven also held a workshop entitled "The Well Worn Path" debuting their new divination deck the evening prior to our event as a fundraiser for RPPD.
Big Mike did an excellent job as our PA man extrordinaire.
Our friends from Central NY Pagan Pride Day came to support us and volunteered at the Registration and Information tables – many thanks, guys.
WolfDancer expertly organized our Security Team (many thanks to all who volunteered – you did an outstanding job).
The merchants arrived early to set up and under WolfDancer’s direction and organization all were ready to go by 10AM opening. We had approximately 35 merchants and diviners. And for the first time we secured a food vendor – Jim Barton of Barton’s Hots ~ thank you Stefani!
Lisa Hutchings (Circle of the Green) and Tomas (Coven of Sangha-Sho) co-Chaired the advertising and media. Thank you to both for lending us your expertise in these areas. Lisa was instrumental in securing media contacts for coverage of our event, and writing articles to get our info out to the public in local and national publications. She also maintained the RPPD website keeping our web pages up to date and created all of our beautiful graphics. Lisa was also responsible for creating the beautiful "street" signs directing people through Merchant Village and the festival. Lisa’s innovative "Peace Tree" gave festival-goers the opportunity to put their intent for peace and harmony out to the Universe by tying a ribbon on the branches. Tomas coordinated our First Aid station. As Community Liaison he created a database to use for contacts in advertising. He assisted with many other aspects including helping to organize and promote fundraisers for this year’s event.
Kathy, Nick, Cheyenne and Stefani were our "official" photographers – thanks for some great pics!
Fundraisers included 3 Dessert and Divination events and a Renaissance celebration of Midsummer with horseback riding, jousting demonstration, drumming, a picnic dinner and rituals for adults and children, hosted at the home of Larry and Barbara. This fundraising event was jointly sponsored by Northeast Council of W.I.C.C.A. and Rochester Pagan Pride.
At the Registration Table we had a jar for monetary and non-perishable food donations for AIDS, Rochester. We collected over 360 lbs of food and $48.00 for AIDS, Rochester. We also collected money for the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund ($110.00) specifically to aid our friends down south in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Channel 9 RNews interviewed Linda and took video of our event that ran on Channel 9 from 7PM until 4AM. Channel 13 selected the Rochester Pagan Pride Day T-shirt as "T-Shirt of the Week" on Friday, September 23rd and gave details about our event being held the next day. RPPD date, time, location appeared on the Community Calendars on Channel 13 and Channel 9 news stations. We ran ads in the Insider, City News, U of R newspaper and Freetime Magazine about our event.
This also marked the first year that RPPD entered a float in the Lilac Day Parade to promote religious tolerance and freedom and let the public know we exist. Thanks to Wendy and Scott who provided a vehicle that we decorated with lots of flowers (Lilacs, Wisteria, etc.) and to all who helped decorate the truck and make signs. Thank you Barbara for the hay bales! Many joined in by marching with us. (see article written by Lisa Hutchings on the RPPD site, article was also featured on Witchvox, on the Pagan Pride International website and on a variety of other Pagan web sites).
Thank you to the guys (you know who you are) for hauling picnic tables around and to everyone who helped with clean-up after the festival.
Last, but certainly not least, Elly lent us her keen eye and expertise in decorating and created a beautiful altar in a serene area. So many, many people were involved in making this year’s event a huge success, it’s impossible to list everyone here (please check out web pages). A BIG thank you to everyone!
As you can see from the history outlined above Rochester Pagan Pride has grown by leaps and bounds over the years due to the tireless efforts of our Local Coordinators, volunteers, sponsors and attendees, without whom we wouldn’t be possible. It has been said by some, that we should never doubt that a small group or even one person can change the world. It is our belief that grassroots organizations such a Pagan Pride are the way to affect change in this confusing time in history. As for the future, RPPF will continue to enlighten, engage and envision a future in which tolerance, diversity and freedom are insured. Blessed Be.
TOTAL ATTENDANCE FOR RPPD
1999 - 100 PEOPLE
2000 - 200 PEOPLE
2001 - 300 PEOPLE
2002 - 375 PEOPLE
2003 - 400 PEOPLE
2004 - 585 PEOPLE
2005 – 721 PEOPLE