Pagan Pride Celebration Meets Opposition By City Officials in Canandaigua, NY

August 20, 2004

Source: Democrat and Chronicle

On August 20, 2004 Democrat and Chronicle reported, "Heidi Gleber and Shelly O'Brien were just trying to break down prejudices against their religion when they started organizing next weekend's first Finger Lakes Pagan Pride Day in Canandaigua. They turned to the American Civil Liberties Union when they felt city officials were giving them the runaround about using a public park for the event... The women say city officials were balking at their request to hold the pagan event at Canandaigua's Baker Park. The two sides disagree on why. Gleber says the city first told her no because the event involved religion; then it said no because the request involved park space reserved for sports. That's when the duo called in the ACLU. It contended that the city was using discretionary powers that violated the pagans' right to free speech. Scott Smith, an attorney for the city, says the issue was never about religion but about timing: The group wanted to use an area limited during the summer to sporting events. 'If the pope had wanted to do something at Baker Park in August, we would have given him the same answer.' Ultimately, he says, the City Council allowed the Aug. 28 festival in the park because the pagans had already scheduled events there."