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August 14, 2009

 

A White Fantasia and a green picnic highlight Black Pride

Cleveland--A scaled-back Black Pride celebration swept through Cleveland last weekend, with the traditional White Fantasia party on August 8 and church services and the family picnic the next day.

Organizers estimate about 60 people at the party, with guests encouraged to wear their finest white clothes.

The event was held at Tizzano’s Party Center in Euclid. Guests were treated to a buffet dinner, open bar and dancing for $35.

The relatively low price for the event was a concession to the struggling economy, which was also the driving force behind the abbreviated weekend of events.

“It’s hard to sell a ticket,” said Lena Roberts, a member of the Black Pride committee. “We tried to keep prices as low as possible. I don’t think we made any money, I think we just made our money back.”

“The food was good, the music was good,” Roberts continued. “Everyone looked great in their white outfits.”

The church services, which in the recent past were held at Archwood United Church of Christ on the west side, moved to Mt. Zion UCC in University Circle, where guests had a choice of attending a traditional service at 10 am or a Worship and Praise service at noon.

The family picnic returned to Edgewater Park on the west side this year, after spending a few years at Kirkland Park in the near-east side of the city and then spending a year on the east side, when attendees wound up at multiple parks because of the divided nature of Gordon Park.

This year, even though the picnic spread far and wide across the upper end of Edgewater Park, it had a more cohesive feel, with the Upper Pavilion filled with partygoers, as well as groups taking up positions away from the center of the action.

Roberts estimates that around 400 people came out for the picnic, which had food provided by Feelgoode.com, a website that serves as a clearinghouse for information and events for Cleveland’s African American LGBT community.

“This year we were lucky to have Feelgoode.com do the food, otherwise we would have had to do it ourselves,” said Roberts, who had the backbreaking task of bringing in the beverages and setting up by herself. “That eliminated a lot of work.”

Barbecued chicken, hot dogs and hamburgers flowed off the grills in a steady stream, and many people brought in their own food and set up portable grills or used the park’s facilities.

Last year’s Black Pride was the first to separate the traditional State of Black Gay America symposium from the main body of the festivities, and Roberts believes that they will do the symposium again next February.

The dates for next summer’s Black Pride have already been established as August 8 to 10, 2010.

Now all they need are “fresh ideas and more bodies.”

“The committee is open for new members,” Roberts noted. “Next year, as we say every year, is going to be bigger and better.”

She laughed.

“Or at least better. Unless a big donor comes through, or numerous medium-sized donors,” she chuckled.

Anyone interested in joining the committee can go to www.bgpcleveland.com or contact Lena Roberts at 216-2331411.

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