The coronavirus pandemic has forced organizers to cancel yet another queer event.
The annual Invasion of the Pines—the popular Fire Island event where hundreds of drag queens board a ferry in Cherry Grove, disembark in the neighboring village of the Pines, and show off their wild looks to a cheering crowd—will not be happening this summer.
The Invasion, which began in 1976 and is usually held on July 4, has grown in size and popularity over the years to become one of the highlights of Fire Island's gay-friendly summer season.
News of the cancellation comes from the Fire Island Star Facebook page, where a note from Diane Romano, president of the Cherry Grove Community Association, was posted Thursday morning.
"I just got off the phone with Panzi, our fearless leader of the Invasion," Romano wrote. "Panzi spoke to both me and Jay Pagano, President of FIPPOA. Sadly, we all agree that it will not be possible to have an 'INVASION of the Pines' this year. We will certainly have some sort of 'safe' celebration of July 4th in Cherry Grove. We will work together to come up with ideas. As disappointing as this is, there is simply no way to be safe with that volume of people in Cherry Grove, on the ferry, and in the Pines. Next year—Bigger and Better!”
The announcement comes just days after New York City Pride's in-person festivities were officially canceled.
Today's Invasion news begs the question: What will become of Fire Island this summer? With the weather warming, more and more people will be itching to venture out to the queer safe haven. However, PJ McTeer, who manages popular Pines Harbor businesses like The Blue Whale and Sip-N-Twirl, advises against that.
"There have been sightings of groups of people in ignoring the social distancing orders," McTeer wrote in a letter posted to his Instagram. "We know people are using the Pines as an escape, but transmissibility doesn't change on Fire Island. Dinner parties and weekend visits on the island aren't helping." He added that the Pines community "will overcome this, and we are eager to welcome you back when permitted to have the summer of all summers."