RAINBOW PRIDE: Last year’s Princeton Community Pride Picnic was held at the Princeton Shopping Center. This year the picnic, sponsored by the Princeton Public Library in collaboration with other local organizations, will be held on the Palmer Square Green on Saturday, June 3 from 12 to 3 p.m. The rain date is June 4.
By Wendy Greenberg
Three years ago a modest picnic was organized in June to celebrate Pride Month, and at that time, to hold an outdoor social event as an antidote to pandemic isolation. The picnic was successful, and every year it has grown.
The third annual Princeton Community Pride Picnic will be held on Saturday, June 3 from 12-3 p.m. on the Palmer Square Green. The rain date is June 4.
The picnic, celebrating Princeton’s LGBTQ+ community, is part of the kickoff weekend for Pride Month in Princeton. The weekend will begin with the annual Pride flag-raising ceremony at 1 Monument Drive on Friday, June 2 at noon, followed by an open air Pride Dance Party hosted by the Arts Council of Princeton, 102 Witherspoon Street, at 8 p.m.
For the inaugural picnic, recalled Janie Hermann, adult program manager at Princeton Public Library, which sponsors the event, “we said, maybe we should plan something small, outdoors, with social distancing.” She and a colleague from McCarter Theatre Center planned the first picnic with the help of a few nonprofits, such as the YMCA and HiTops, which provides support for LGBTQ+ young people.
“We hired a DJ, got a parachute, games, and we expected 150-200 people,” she said. “But 700-800 showed up. It was amazing.” A committee was formed and the next year, the event at Princeton Shopping Center attracted 1,500 people
This year’s all-inclusive community event will be in Palmer Square with live entertainment – local favorite Sarah Donner and a student set from Princeton School of Rock. Participants can learn to be “hoop stars” with Angela from Color Me Hoopy, join in a collaborative community art project, and take part in a variety of activities, games, and giveaways for all ages.
Princeton Mayor Mark Freda and other local dignitaries are expected to attend, and local nonprofits will have tables with activities and information for attendees.
Hermann encouraged the participation of community organizations.
“It’s free for anyone to take part,” said Hermann. Celebrate your pride or show your ally-ship. Set up a nonprofit table. We’re all here together. Everyone brings a little to the table.”
Hermann leads the Princeton Community Pride Picnic committee in collaboration with other library staff, McCarter Theatre Centre, HiTOPS, Arts Council of Princeton, Princeton Civil Rights Commission, Princeton Department of Human Services, YWCA Princeton, and community volunteers. Additional information, including a list of participating groups, is available on the events calendar at princetonlibrary.org.
“We are very excited to be partnering with Palmer Square for this year’s Pride Picnic,” said Jennifer Podolsky, PPL executive director. “The picnic has been designed as a moveable feast, starting at the YWCA, then growing at Princeton Shopping Center. We expect continued success with our neighbors in Palmer Square.”
In addition to celebrating the LGBTQ community, Podolsky added, the picnic “supports our mission of connecting people with resources to broaden their understanding of our diverse community. The picnic plays an important role, particularly for young people, in fostering a sense of belonging for everyone in Princeton.”