See you at the dock on July 4th!

History of The Invasion of the Pines

In 1976, Cherry Grove’s beloved performer and citizen, Teri Warren, was refused admittance to the Boatel Restaurant in Fire Island Pines for being who she was.  John Whyte advised her that, and we quote “…this is a family restaurant.”  Cherry Grove from West Walk to Ivy Walk was appropriately appalled. (See photos of 2010 Invasion)

On July 4, the recently elected Homecoming Queen, Panzi (Thom Hansen) and friends of Tara were watching the Bicentennial flotilla up the Hudson River, and decided to form a fortilla of their own to INVADE high tea at the Blue Whale in the Pines.  All agreed to cross-dress.  Nine Grovites braved the frontier to confront the Pines and their blatant discrimination against one of their own:  Panzi, Max Killingsworth, Amelia Migliaccio, Lynn Hutton, Gene Taylor, Jack Flood, Chuck Young, Nick Sinisi and Rose Levine.  They hired Randy and Sally’s Water Taxi and entered the Harbor amidst horn blowing and singing (off-key) of “God Bless America”.  They were met with disbelief, joy, excitement, and overall willingness to enjoy and participate in the spectacle as their Queen Panzi, climbed the steps of the hotel to “bless the harbor.”  Drinks were served and the attackers left as fast as they arrived.

Over the years, the attackers grew from nine to 300, and the Invasion became a day of fun, laughter and exuberant costuming.  John Whyte and PIPPOA fought to ban the Invasion for years, and it was not until the early 1990’s that they were finally conquered.  When they joined the celebration with the thousands of spectators, the did so in a grand manner:  FIPPOA has created a “red carpet reception” for Panzi and revelers with a VIP Reception Area on the dock for local politicians from Suffolk County and the President to the Cherry Grove Community Association.  They also rent an enormous sound system with microphone for Panzi to “introduce” her entourage of 300+.

Today, the Invasion is a tradition that both Communities look forward to:  a day of pure joy and celebration in our creative diversity.