77 Photos of the Fabulous Invasion of the Pines on Fire Island
By Christopher Harrity
On every Fourth of July for the last 42 years, hundreds don their best drag to remember a moment of liberation. Read more below.
Fire Island's Cherry Grove, by the late 1920s, was taking a decidedly gay turn as more bohemian types and artists began to flock to the New York island. In the '50s, development in the Pines set up a cultural axis of "have more" and "have less" among the residents. The lots were bigger and the Pines's community, although very gay, was more quiet and conservative. Tensions built, even though many of them were worked out in the outdoor sex area known as the meatrack, a patch of woods that lies between the two communities.
Then one day in 1976, in a Rosa Parks-inspired moment, Teri Warren, in full drag, went to the Boatel restaurant in the Pines and was promptly refused service.
This did not sit well with some Cherry Grovers, including Thom Hansen, who as Panzi (pictured above, center) had just been crowned Homecoming Queen of Cherry Grove. Taking the duties of the crown seriously, Panzi and a handful of supporters all donned their most confrontational drag, boarded a water taxi and headed for a showdown in the Pines.
No slapping or wig pulling ensued. The Pines residents, shocked at first, were dazzled by the activists and soon all were drinking cocktails together at the Blue Whale. A tradition was born. Now, on July 4 every year for 42 years, hundreds of men and women put on their best drag and glam. They board water taxis and head for the Pines, only to be met by the equally outrageously dressed Pines residents. And with that, the largest Fire Island party of the summer ensues.
July 4 week will bring DJ Aron, a world-famous producer and International DJ who has been spinning for over a decade at the largest circuit parties all over the world. Hailing from Tel Aviv, Aron has DJed events at Pride Weekend in NYC and at clubs all over NYC and Miami. For a complete lineup of events please visit https://pinesfi.com/pavilion/