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All Aboard the Pride Train

Tue, 05/21/2024 - 17:04
Tom House, at center, is the founder of Hamptons Pride. This year, the L.I.R.R. will run a special train to East Hampton on June 1 for the parade.
Durell Godfrey

Thanks to the efforts of Hamptons Pride volunteers and elected officials here, those attending the third annual Pride Parade in East Hampton on June 1 will have another way to travel here for the noontime step-off: the Long Island Rail Road has added a special train to East Hampton that day.

 "I think this opens the parade up to a whole part of the population that we haven't been able to reach yet, in a really good way," said Tom House of Springs, the founder of Hamptons Pride. He said he hopes the special eastbound train, and its westbound return train later in the day, will attract people from points west of here.

 "We are very, very, very grateful to the [Metropolitan Transportation Authority] and L.I.R.R. for increasing access to the Pride Parade," Mr. House said. "Now people don't have to worry about a long drive or where they're going to park their car."

 The train will leave Speonk at 10:19 a.m. and arrive at East Hampton at 11:02, stopping at all points in between. Later in the day, there is a return train to Speonk departing East Hampton at 4 p.m. The fare is $7 each way.

 The Pride train was the idea of Ron Fisher of Southampton, who is a new volunteer for Hamptons Pride, but who is no stranger to the community otherwise. He is a board member of Sepa Mujer and recently finished six years serving on the board of the Butterfly Effect Project, both advocacy groups that aim to empower women and young girls on the East End.

 When he was just 11 years old and a student in the Riverhead School District, Mr. Fisher successfully lobbied for his own bus stop to be changed to a safer location. "This was much easier," he said of the L.I.R.R.'s process.

 He looped in New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. and Suffolk County Legislator Ann Welker, who both got on board — pun intended — with the idea.

 "There's a call to action here," Mr. Fisher said, to attract participants and spectators from west of East Hampton. "This is a big deal. They don't add trains to the L.I.R.R. schedule regularly — particularly on weekends. It was modeled after the South Fork Commuter Connection. It's the same train, it just has never run on a weekend."

 For those who are both taking the train and marching in the parade, Mr. House said there will be a "welcome walk" guiding them to their parade lineup position on Main Street in between Guild Hall and the Presbyterian Church. The Bridgehampton School's popular Marimba Band will play to greet people off the train.

 The parade will follow the same route it took in its first two years: It will head east on Main Street from Pondview Road, turn onto Newtown Lane, then onto Railroad Avenue and Lumber Lane to Herrick Park. This year's parade will again feature D.J. Karin Ward spinning upbeat tunes at the post-parade party until 3 p.m. in Herrick Park, joined for the first time by the percussionist Mila Tina.

 Those wishing to march in the parade have been asked to sign up at HamptonsPride.org by Wednesday. There is no registration fee. Advance registration is a requirement of the East Hampton Village administration, so its police officers can effectively maintain safety and security.

 "Walk with friends, family, co-workers; launch a float; strike up a band; slow-roll in a sassy convertible or pickup," Hamptons Pride said in an announcement last month. "All are welcome! Let's come out in the biggest numbers yet to celebrate and support the East End's L.G.B.T.Q.+ people and their allies."

 Mr. House notes that balloons will not be allowed that day due to environmental concerns over the trash they often create.

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