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ACA at the Pride Festival, June 6, 2009
ACA was one of about a hundred organizations with booths at the 2009 Pride Festival this year. The half-day event was held June 6, 2009 in Republic Square Park. This year's shorter time frame and relatively limited space made for a more intense and fun experience, with a bit less heat exhaustion for the volunteers.

The event was similar to previous years with food, community organizations, bands, and lots of interesting people to watch. The headlining group was the Austin Baptist Women, who sang some religious themed songs with slightly modified lyrics. The event ran from 4pm to 8pm with the Pride Parade following after and into the night. ACA member Joe Zamecki shot a video of the festival that give a sense of what was going on. Jen Peeples did some "man on the street" audio interviews asking people, "what does 'atheist' mean to you?". The results were surprising. Listen to excerpts here (MP3 file, 6 minutes).

The Pride Festival is a great opportunity to gain visibility in a setting where most of the participants are progressive and more likely to be receptive to our message. Our very presence sends a message that we exist and that we are happy to come out in support of others. While the ACA has been active and visible in Austin for eleven years, there are still a lot of people who are surprised that we exist. Community events like this give us a chance to interact with those people and tell them a little about what we do as a group.

We had a very visible booth. We situated it end-on against the flow of people and our new banner was clearly visible from a distance through the crowd. We gave out FFRF non-tracts, stickers, newsletters, tri-folds, and a blurb about why the ACA supports gay rights. About 80 people visited our booth, many admitting they are atheists and a maddening few that also said they'd never knew there was an atheist group in Austin. We got two memberships at the event.

Austin's mascot, Leslie, dropped by and chatted with us about his lack of belief. One young woman came by and dramatically told us that we changed her life. She said that she had been a fence sitter on the atheism thing for many years and after hearing our arguments (on the Atheist Experience) she was now an avowed atheist. We also had three people come to the Pride Festival just to see us. A couple from Philadelphia visited with us for a couple of hours and joined us for dinner after the event. This years' volunteer crew included Jen Peeples, John Iacoletti, Chuck Clark, Russell Tomlinson, and Lisa Mais. Don Baker organized the ACA's participation. Thanks to the Atheist Longhorns for loaning us their canopy.


After setup. Chuck, Jen, and Russell man the booth. Check out our new banner.

Our booth was clearly visible, even with a crowd.

Russell, John, and Chuck after the crowd picked up.

Russell, Chuck, and John chat with a visitor. Jen is there with her microphone, looking for her next interview.

Austin Baptist Women perform at the main stage.

A shot of the crowd.

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