SKY Armory, downtown Syracuse’s premier event venue, aims to end Pride Month on a positive note. On Wednesday, July 29, it will be holding its White Party for Peace on the third floor. The fundraiser will be raising money for Pulse Nightclub recovery in Orlando and The Q Center in Syracuse. The local center is a constructive and positive space for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth to safely gather and get support.
“We’re very excited,” said ACR Health executive director Wil Murtaugh. He said it’s wonderful to be considered and have their efforts recognized for educating the public and creating a safe space with The Q Center.
The tragedy that struck the Orlando club on June 12 rattled the national celebration of individuality. The largest mass shooting in American history has generated more questions than answers in regard to terrorist intentions and hatred toward Hispanics, the LGBTQ community and our country in general.
“It’s hard to not be touched by this. We are doing a lot to help with Pulse as well as helping the people we serve,” Murtaugh said. Having the support on the local level adds to a booming nationwide and worldwide voice.
SKY Armory Executive Chef Jason Jessmore and his wife, event services manager Maggie, have personal connections to the incident. His cousin, a former employee of Pulse, had left the venue an hour before the shooting. Along with the rest of the family and friends the Jessmores have in Florida, the couple still feels a sense of dread.
“It’s a straight line of human beings from Syracuse to Orlando,”Jessmore said. He acknowledged this could have happened anywhere. “We could all go out for a drink tonight and something could happen. There’s nothing that separates us.”
SKY has played with the concept of holding a White Party before, however the influx of private parties pushed the thought to the back burner. Marketing Manager Amy Bleier Long said their team agreed that making time to throw the party now is important.
“Last year the idea to have a general White Party came up. All of the decor will be white, and attire has to be white,” she said. “It’s very symbolic, and I’m looking forward to it.”
The $25 ticket will cover admission, food and dancing. The only take SKY is receiving is what is made off of beverages. Jessmore said the venue’s owners are donating the space and amenities; food and entertainment have been donated as well. The raffles, half the cost of specialty drinks made with Absolut Pride and bar tips will be being split for Pulse and Q Center.
There will be another opportunity to donate. “We’re going to have a bunch of candles, and we’re going to line the atrium windows with them,” Jessmore said. “People can purchase a candle for $10 and write personal messages. By midnight, when you look up from Walton Street, it will appear as a huge candlelight vigil.”
It’s important to stress that it’s open to everyone, not just to the LGBTQ community. It may be a small event in the grand scheme, but it aims to be a part of the conversation.
“The overall message is about peace, getting along, understanding people’s differences and accepting them,” she said.