By April L. Bogle
Some 100 people – from pre-kindergarteners to grandparents and every age in between – attended the Fernandina Beach Pride family picnic to eat, play and laugh together at MLK Park Saturday, April 22.
On a warm day, children took to the playground, adults tossed bean bags in games of cornhole, dogs sought shade, and most everyone munched chocolate chip cookies provided by a local church. An adjacent Little League game and a water aerobics class in the nearby pool provided the joyful sounds of summer.
The event was as American as apple pie.
Fernandina Beach residents Jen and Lance Ankrum attended to show their support for Pride. “My nephew is trans[gender], and I’m really scared for him. I just want to meet people and get involved,” Jen said.
Rev. Dr. Mark Charles, senior pastor of Fernandina Beach’s Memorial United Methodist Church, was there with some of his parishioners. His church provided the cookies.
“This event and [the upcoming] parade are important because they represent a cross-section of our community. And just like any other cross-section of our community — churches, political organizations, other social organizations — Pride ought to be able to gather freely as well,” said Charles.
Jordan Morris, treasurer of Fernandina Beach Pride, said the picnic exceeded his expectations. “We had been hearing rumblings after articles in the press expressed opposition to events such as ours, but people really turned out and showed a lot of love. We got an overwhelming amount of support, mostly from allies. I think there were more friends and supporters of our community than actual community members, which is really a wonderful thing,” he said.
Big Al’s Chicken Shack provided fried chicken, wings, slaw, potato salad and biscuits, part contribution, part paid for by Fernandina Beach Pride, so the off-duty police officers hired to ensure the peace had something to eat.
“That turned into a communal table for anybody to enjoy,” said Mason.
There were no disturbances. Not even a dog off-leash.