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Pagan Pride Day 2008

Welcome to Pagan Pride Day

It was a bright, sunny, but cool and windy day in September.  Those of us on the Front Range Pagan Pride Committee, had been working towards this day for a year.  You may have heard that organizing Pagans is like herding cats.  This event was no exception. 

Out of all the people on the committee who had worked for the entire year to put this event on, I only remember two of us actually being at Pagan Pride Day.  Kantis, who was asked to be the co-coordinator, and owns the Witches Brew, a local Pagan coffee shop, and I, were the only two actual committee members to attend.

Even the Coordinator, who had been tasked with organizing the event by the National group, was not there.  This didn’t really surprise me, since I had been attending the organizing meetings at the Brew for a year, and I still hadn’t met her.  Others decided not to attend because of the location.

Pagan Pride Day in Colorado has a checkered past.  When it was originally started here, the person who had volunteered to do it, decided to put it somewhere up in the mountains.  Few attended because, well, no one knew where it was.  That’s a hell of a way to run a pride event.

Pagan Pride was run that way for a few years until someone else took it over.  At some point, it was decided to hold the event down in Denver, where people were much more likely to attend.  A city park, called Cheeseman, was chosen as the venue.

Cheeseman Park is an interesting place as it was originally a city cemetery, and it’s well known that not all the bodies were moved when it was made into a park.  The park is centrally located in Denver, and one of the most visible points is the Greek colonnade at its center.

Pagan Pride has been held off to the side of the park, and always gathers attention from the public. 

 

The Location

This year was a bit different.  Because of a banking error, we weren’t able to put the payment on the park for the day, so another site had to be found.  Daniels Park, where we ended up, is open space in Jefferson County, at the base of the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.

This was actually a very good choice since open space is natural wilderness set aside by the county that will not be developed.  Unlike the manicured city parks, the only changes made to the area are a stone shelter with a hearth, a couple of barbeque grills and open air bathrooms.  There’s even a herd of American Bison (Buffalo) that live on the land.

Stone shelter with eroded cauldronThe spot we chose was at the stone shelter on top of the hill.  The view of the mountains to the west was spectacular!  The limestone cliffs on the west side of the hill lead down to a beautifully manicured golf course.  Small boulders had been placed to frame the area at the hilltop.  These rocks have been eroded to a large extent, and one of them had a circular depression forming a natural cauldron.

The only real problem with the entire location was the wind.  It never stopped.  It started the day cold and biting, then warmed with the sun, and cooled again as the sun set.  Did I mention that a couple of weeks earlier, four tornados had gone through the area?

Several of us who were helping to set up, had started the day at theKantis, our fearless Leader! Witches Brew, where we loaded trucks.  We then drove down south of town to the park.  Kantis rode with me, and was managing to keep her nerves under control until we hit the construction that none of us had been aware of, on the road to the park.  The directions to the park that we had sent out to everyone wouldn’t work.

Here I was, driving to a place I’d never been, and I had no idea where to go.  I understood how everyone else would feel, so the first order of business once we arrived was to get signage up to help people find the spot.  A volunteer and I headed out with thin signboard and duct tape to put up signs all the way back to where the construction started.

 

Organizations

Once that was done, we got back to find a small tent city erected for the various regional Pagan organizations that had come to let the community know who they are.  One of the big aspects of Pagan Pride Day is that it is a place for those looking for a local community to find it. 

NoCo PagansNorthern Colorado Covenant of The River was there with three people.  People in Denver had complained about the drive to the location, but these three drove down from Fort Collins, a much longer drive than anyone in Denver. 

Colorado Pagan Mammas

The Colorado Pagan Mammas showed up with their Cookbook, Brew It Up.  The cookbook with Pagan inspired recipes for all occasions was being sold in hardcopy, CD, and EBook form. 

Mountain PagansMountain Pagans also made a showing.  This is a group of Witches who, as the name implies, live up in the mountains of Colorado.  Most of the members of the group live in small towns along highway 285, on the way to where Dragonfest is held.

The Highlands Ranch Pagans were in charge of the ritual.  Highlands Ranch is a more affluent area on the south side of Denver.  Among other things, they are working on creating a Pagan Events Center where any Pagan organization can hold meetings and gatherings.

 

The People

We had a surprisingly large crowd show up.  Between the change of venue, the distance to drive, and the construction, I was worried there might be some conspiracy to keep people away.  I honestly Two VERY Good Witches!thought we might only have five or ten people show up.  I needn’t have worried.  Throughout the day, there were consistently a couple of hundred people at any given time.

While some of the committee had thought it was too far to drive, the Pagan Community certainly didn’t.  We had at least as many people this year, as we did the year before.  They started showing up shortly after 10AM, and continued to come and go throughout the day.  Some had come to Pagan Pride for the first time, others have been going for years.

Manea and her signPeople came from all directions, and quite a distance, to spend the day together.  They brought their kids, and their parents.  The wind never died, but the sun warmed up.  A mother flew a kite with her kids.  Others scrambled around on the rock cliffs, as kids will do.  One young man, the son of my friend Dawn, spotted a waterfall off in the distance, across the golf course. 

The Golf CourseIt hadn’t occurred to me that I might need a telephoto lens, so I didn’t take it.  Unfortunately, there was a tree right in the way, and I never was able to get a good shot of the waterfall.  Next year I’ll know.  Of course, next year I might have access to a video camera.

Kids played all around.  There was a special Kids Fest tent set up for the younger kids, but most were too busy playing, though they did use it to get out of the wind.  The adults enjoyed the day too.  Some hiked with their kids along the cliffs, others gathered in conversation knots.

 

The Food

Me cooking up hotdogsI had volunteered to work the first shift at the grill, so I put a bag of charcoal in the grill.  It’s not easy to light a fire with a steady wind of at least 10 miles per hour blowing.  Fortunately, we had lots of starter fluid.  I’m not ashamed to say I used it liberally. After all, I got the fire going, and that was the whole point.

Once the charcoal was hot, I took the first shift at the grill, cooking hotdogs.  I put one package of hotdogs on the grill, then a few minutes later, another.  Between the hot spots and the staggered application of meat-like product, I was taking a hotdog off the grill every few seconds.  We had a couple of tin pans set up to hold the cooked hotdogs, and keep them warm if no one wanted to eat just then.  When I started, I had people coming up asking how long until they could get a hotdog.  By the time I gave up my tongs, I had a large surplus of hotdogs ready.

Bear, Chocolateer extrordiaireBear had made more of his famous Death By Chocolate Cakes.  These were the same cakes he’d made for the Save the Brew Day.  These were 5 or 6 inches in diameter, and at least two layers.  Chocolate cake smothered in chocolate frosting, and a chocolate mousse filling between the layers.  He had baked them to sell to make money for Pagan Pride. 

Death By ChocolateAt $5 each, they were more than worth it!  I say this as a chocoholic, these things are magnificent.  I have never had anything quite so decadent, not even at the Chocolate Frenzy at Dragonfest.  I bought mine as soon as I could, and stashed it away in my truck for later, for private consumption.  I told you, these things are fantastic.

There were chips, and dips, and salads, and all manner of condiments available.  It was a picnic, and everything was available for a small donation. We went through 50 or 75 hotdogs easily, and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. 

 Lunch at Pagan Pride

The Ritual

Setting up ritualSometime after we had all stuffed ourselves, the Highlands Ranch Pagans gathered to organize the ritual.  I had to do a little talking, to convince them to move the ritual to a more scenic spot for pictures. 

Fortunately, it didn’t take much convincing.  They weren’t sure the space was big enough, and were worried about it being hilly.  Once I showed them what I had in mind, they were quite willing to move.  Besides, who wants the bathrooms in the background for pictures?

They had brought a card table for their altar, and laden it with food.  Breads, melons, crackers, the table literally strained with the weight of it all.  I had never seen so much food in ritual before.  In keeping with the season, this was a harvest ritual, and boy what a harvest!

Ritual drummersThe ritual lasted about 45 minutes, with thanks given, and food shared.  There were probably a hundred people taking part, and they had organized it so that the food was started in each of the four Quarters.  It didn’t take long for people to get both food and drink.  A couple of drummers played throughout the ritual, giving a heartbeat, and rhythm to the ritual.

Sharing food in ritualThe ritual was full of joy and laughter.  Everyone from babies to elders took part in the sharing of food and community.  The sun had slanted noticeably to the west by now, and we had been there all day.  As the ritual ended, people started to make their way back to their cars.

Ritual in the mountainsAt 5PM local time, those few of us that were left, all gathered in the stone shelter.  Someone had brought a laptop with a cell connection, and we took part in the world wide ritual for peace.  We gathered around one of the tables, and held hands as the computer relayed the voice of the meditation.

After the last word had finished, and the meditation ended, we packed everything up, and headed back to the Brew to unload.  It was a long day, but a lot of fun.  I met new people, and ran into old friends I hadn’t expected to see.  Even with all that had been thrown against us, we made it work, and I think this will be one of those events that is talked about for years to come.

Pagan Pride Day happens in just about every large city across the country.  You can find the closest one to you at the National Pagan Pride website, or you can sign up to start your own.  I can tell you that as hard as it is to get everything to work, it’s also extremely satisfying to be a part of watching your hard work come to fruition.

 

Scenic View

Eroded picnic



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