With summer in full swing, the State College Spikes are looking to make an impact on the community as they close out their second full week of play.
The Spikes will be celebrating Pride Night on Friday at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park, commemorating national Pride Month as well as the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots in New York City.
Friday will be the first-ever Pride Night hosted by the Spikes, and to mark the occasion, the first 500 fans who enter the gates will receive a commemorative pride hat, which features a rainbow-patterned Spikes logo.
There will also be a pride parade 30 minutes before the game, which all fans in attendance are invited to join.
For the Spikes, the evening is about celebrating LGBTQA pride, as well as sending the message that everybody is welcome in the ballpark.
“The whole thing is to promote and let everybody know that Medlar Field at Lubrano Park is a place that welcomes everybody, welcomes all members of our community and is a place where everybody can come together,” said Joe Putnam, communications manager and play-by-play announcer for the Spikes. “That’s really what this is all about.”
The event has been planned in correspondence with the LGBTQA Student Resource Center at Penn State, as well as other LGBTQA organizations in the area.
Sonya Wilmoth, who is the assistant director for the Student Resource Center, will be throwing out the first pitch. She said events like these are very important for the local LGBTQA community.
“I think it’s clutch,” Wilmoth said. “There are certain spaces where LGBTQ people don’t feel safe, or don’t feel welcome, and for (the Spikes) to say they’re going to do this, I think that speaks volumes about the organization.”
While Penn State celebrates its pride month in April instead of June, as the students are not on campus, the streets of downtown State College have been lined with pride flags all month long. Both Putnam and Wilmoth said the community reaction to Pride Night has been very positive.
With Pride Nights taking place at major and minor league ballparks throughout the nation this June, Wilmoth says she hopes the event will have an impact on the players as well as the fans.
“It’s good for the athletes to see (Pride Night) too because when you start to see athletes come out and identify in the LGBTQ community they fell that what (the Spikes) are saying supporting this event is that they’re open to this as part of the people that work for us, the people that play for us,” Wilmoth said.
Pride Night will be the first game in a weekend series against the Auburn Doubledays. After that, the Spikes will spend the first week of July on the road with series against Batavia and Mahoning Valley.