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Annual Mississippi Picnic in Central Park Cancelled Due to HB 1523

Mississippi Picnic in Central Park (2015)
Mississippi Picnic in Central Park (2015)

The 37th annual Mississippi Picnic in the Central Park has been cancelled, per a press release from its organizers, the New York-Mississippi Society.

The cancellation came to be “as a result of the unfortunate adoption of House Bill 1523,” according to the founders of the Mississippi Picnic in Central Park and the New York – Mississippi Society.

The press release in full reads:
We, the founders of the Mississippi Picnic in Central Park and the New York-Mississippi Society, are officially canceling this year’s picnic in its 37th year.

As a result of the unfortunate adoption of House Bill 1523, we have been informed that several concerned groups in New York City intend to demonstrate in protest of the passage of this law. Due to the controversy, the protests, and our own intensely felt dismay over HB 1523, we deeply regret that the Mississippi Picnic cannot go forward.

Our mission back in 1980 was to showcase a positive image of the state of Mississippi, and over the past 36 years, we have celebrated such cultural icons as writer Tennessee Williams, food critic Craig Claiborne, and opera singer, Leontyne Price. This year we were planning to honor the great blues musician, B.B.King.

For almost four decades, The Mississippi Picnic in Central Park has consistently celebrated the best of Mississippi, without regard to race, religion, or gender orientation. We took pride in sharing our rich heritage and diversity with the rest of the world through these annual gatherings. Any law such as HB 1523 that discriminates against even a single member of our community cannot be tolerated, and therefore we have decided to stand up for all Mississippians by cancelling the 2016 picnic in the park.

The Founders: Ron Carter
Vicki Carter Rachel McPherson Diane Wiltshir
The Mississippi Development Authority’s public relations manager, Jeff Rent, sent a statement: “The New York Mississippi Society has made the decision to cancel the Mississippi Picnic in Central Park. We are disappointed in not only their decision, but also their lack of discussion with Mississippi partners before cancelling the event.”

Visit Oxford is one of the listed partners of the annual event.

Its director, Mary Allyn Hedges said, “We are disappointed that it will not be taking place as Visit Oxford has been a part of the Picnic for a number of years. It’s a great way to showcase all that our great town and state have to offer and I hope we are able to return in the future.”

Callie Daniels Bryant is the senior managing editor for HottyToddy.com. She can be reached at callie.daniels@hottytoddy.com.

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