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|Backpack in the Park, Marietta Rainbow Festival bring the heat|
|by Ryan Watkins|
|July 20, 2012 00:00|
Next weekend brings two opportunities to gather with LGBT friends, celebrate community and help young people.
The 7th annual Backpack in the Park hopes to take party-goers back to their childhoods to help a new generation of young people get a successful start in the new school year.
This year’s theme, “Summer Camp,” gives attendees the chance to relive such childhood camp classics like crafting and s’mores while collecting backpacks and school supplies for Georgia’s less fortunate kids.
One of the hallmark annual events of For The Kid in All of Us, this year’s school supplies fundraiser returns to Atlanta’s Piedmont Park from 4-7 p.m. on July 28, at the Greystone Pavilion.
Alison Hall, president of For The Kid in All of Us, said this year’s event will benefit 13 local organizations, including an elementary school in DeKalb.
Entertainment will be provided by Best of Atlanta winner DJ Vicki Powell and the Drama-Tech Theater group. There will be specialty cocktails, games (including “giant” Twister) and even a balloon wall with prizes like hotel stays and restaurant gift certificates.
Entry to the event is a backpack filled with school supplies or a gift card worth $35 or more. The official supplies list: Folders (6), Spiral Notebooks (2), Filler Paper 150 Sheets (1), Pink Eraser (3), Ruler (1), Glue Stick (1), #2 Pencil 12 Pack (1), Crayons 24 Ct (1), Colored Pencil 12 Pack (1), Index, Cards 3” x 5” (1 pack). Backpacks can be donated online or brought to the party.
The official after-party will be at Joe’s on Juniper following the event in Piedmont Park.
Organizers called the 2011 event “the best year yet.” Donations were up almost 30 percent, with 1,826 backpacks collected, according to For the Kid. In total, more than 6,900 backpacks have been donated since the first Backpack in the Park was held in 2006.
“If we can get up to 2,000 backpacks, that would break the bank, but we certainly want to break our record,” Hall said of this year’s expectations.
For Hall and other volunteers with For the Kid, satisfaction comes from the children who benefit from the event.
“When you get the opportunity to deliver these backpacks and see the kids’ faces, their eyes light up,” Hall said. “That’s what it means to us, knowing that you’re getting a kid started off right.”
For the Kid in All of Us, founded in 2003, also organizes the annual Toy Party, which collects holiday gifts for children in need.
Marietta Pride returns for third annual fest
The Marietta Rainbow Festival returns July 25-28 for the third annual Pride festival for the north Atlanta suburb. Hosted by the North Georgia Rainbow Coalition and LeBuzz, this year’s four-day event promises to be a family-friendly celebration of LGBT pride.
More than 100 entertainers are scheduled to perform, and organizers hope more than 5,000 people will attend the fest during its four-day run.
The party kicks off Wednesday, July 25, with the roast of Charlie Brown. Local entertainers and people who have worked with the drag performer will be on-hand to offer colorful remarks on the local legend’s career.
Thursday night at LeBuzz will be Ladies’ Night and Friday night will feature local performers and special guests at the OTP bar.
Saturday, the event moves outside to the parking lot of LeBuzz and other businesses in the bar’s shopping center.
“Last year went very smoothly for us,” said Johnathan Murphy, North Georgia Rainbow Coalition president and owner of LeBuzz. “The first year I was pretty nervous about everything.”
Murphy said this year’s festival would feature a family-friendly kid zone, live music, vendors, a flea market, 10 food trucks and other festivities, all with a circus-theme.
The theme for this year’s bash, “Circus,” is inspired by the now traditional Divas Cabaret show that caps the festival.
Proceeds from this year’s event will benefit Lost-n-Found Youth.
“If we make our goal, then it will do a lot of good for them,” Murphy said. “I’d like to donate at least $5,000. I’m hopeful, but we’ll be happy with whatever we can get them.”
Marietta Pride is held on private property, Murphy added, meaning that the event is not held in conjunction with the city like many of Georgia’s Pride festivals.
“We kind of feel like the lone ranger,” Murphy said. “We don’t have any grants, outside funding or endorsements. We’re just average folks, so everything we do, we fundraise and pay for.”
For Murphy and the North Georgia Rainbow Coalition, hosting the now annual event is easier than it was two years ago, but certain challenges remain.
“Each year we learn a little more,” Murphy said. “At the end of the day, the entire thing is about people coming together, having a great time, forgetting their problems, taking any money that we raised and giving it to a good cause.”
Top photo: (left) Backpack in the Park collected 1,826 backpacks in 2011, the event’s largest haul. Marietta Rainbow Festival returns for its third year at OTP gay bar Le Buzz, this year with a circus theme. (Photos by Dyana Bagby)
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