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Jersey Pride update from Laura Pople, President of Jersey Pride

Laura Pople, President of Jersey Pride, released a statement on the festival’s Facebook page today regarding the new policy. After reading the very well worded statement, I actually respect the policy a lot more. What are your thoughts?

From the President of Jersey Pride, about NJ’s Annual LGBTI Pride Festival in Asbury Park

I believe the LGBTI Pride Celebration we produce each year in Asbury Park is special. I have always thought so. If pushed to say why, I would point to the fact that we hold our event in a uniquely NJ venue – the Jersey Shore. The Atlantic Ocean and the Asbury Park Boardwalk are the backdrops for Jersey Pride. How fitting. I would point to the incredible community in Asbury Park – its residents, the town managers and elected officials, and the business community – who have welcomed us for 21 years and helped us grow this event, and Pride weekend, into something fabulous. I would point to the Family Zone, and our support of the diversity of our community, including the soccer moms and dads. I would point to the incredible dedication of the volunteers who give up their lives for several months to focus on producing, for no personal gain whatsoever, this fabulous event. And I would point to our rally area and the real sense of community you see there. I don’t know that I would have specifically articulated the “cooler camps” as what makes that rally viewing area special, but clearly for many of the actual rally attendees, being able to bring in your own cooler filled with your beverage of choice (alcohol or otherwise), snacks, and generally your own picnic accoutrements, and invite your friends, both new and old, to visit in your “space” is something special about the Pride Celebration in Asbury Park.

Any special event is subject to a tremendous amount of planning and logistical manuevering. To produce the event that we do, Jersey Pride must work with the town of Asbury Park, the state’s division that oversees liquor laws, our insurance company, various vendors who supply the port-o-johns and sound and dumpsters, performers, and the community itself. We attempt to hear all the different issues, and regulations, and preferences, and needs that must be met and weave a path through all interested parties that can satisfy everyone.

We faced a particular challenge this year pertaining to responsible alcohol consumption during the festival. We remain committed to responsible alcohol consumption, but we’ve heard from the community that the path we chose would take away a part of the festival that for them is what makes it special. To meet our need for responsible alcohol consumption, and to meet the need recently voiced by at least some segment of our community, for the picnic-like rally area, we WILL BE ALLLOWING cooler access through one of the entry gates to the festival. At that gate, coolers will be inspected; for those with alcohol in them, the owner will be carded and will have to sign a hold harmless that lays out the festival’s policies about responsible alcohol consumption on the grounds.

What saddens me most about the discourse around this alcohol policy, particularly on the social media channels, is how the dedicated hard work of the VOLUNTEERS of Jersey Pride is getting dismissed and maligned. This event happens because people give up part of their lives to produce it for the community. Not only is no one at Jersey Pride paid, but they often don’t even get much in the way of a thank you. And this year, those hard working individuals get the added bonus of being blasted publicly by the very people they are working so hard to serve. Every person at Jersey Pride is a hero in my book. They are trying to provide a safe space for the community. They do this in addition to, and often while putting in jeapordy, their every day lives. I thank them for everything that they do and hope if you see anyone in a staff shirt at the pride celebration, you take the time to thank them too. 

And for those to whom this applies, please drink responsibly. At pride, and every day.

Sincerely,
Laura Pople
President, Jersey Pride

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