Women’s March returns to Woodstock

A scene from last year’s march.

Among the 250-plus women’s marches and events around the U.S. planned for Saturday, January 20, demonstrators will again take to the street in Woodstock, echoing the protest expressed last year on the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration as president. Organizers of the 2018 Woodstock Women’s March say they have double the number of social media followers they had last year, when over 1500 people showed up with signs, chants, and pink pussyhats to oppose the goals of the Trump administration.

Like last year’s event, the Woodstock march will begin at 11 a.m. at Andy Lee Field on Rock City Road. Marchers will proceed to the town green and turn down Mill Hill Road to the Bradley Meadows parking lot, where they will hear speakers and music before heading back to the green for more music and a 1 p.m. moment of silence.

“Last year, people had fears and concerns. This year, those concerns came to pass,” said Anula Courtis, one of the three main organizers of the previous event, who have joined together to launch the anniversary march. “We have watched little children be separated from their parents for 20 hours, and seemingly normal human beings were empowered to do this. Gay rights have eroded state by state. The alt-right took on power, normalizing racist behavior.”

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“And environmental regulations have been sickeningly rolled back,” added Annie Reed.

“Last year, people wanted to come together because they were almost in shock, despondent,” said Maria-Elena Conte. “Now a whole year has passed, and we won’t give up hope. The march brings people together.”

Women’s marches this year have been styled as bringing “power to the polls,” with a focus on getting more women and minorities registered to vote in order to elect women and progressive candidates to public office in the 2018 and 2020 elections. “Voting is very important, changing who we have in office,” said Conte. “Our rights are being taken away.”

The #metoo campaign, in response to the ongoing exposure of widespread sexual abuse, is an important element of the marches. Many women will be wearing black or sporting black caps as a statement against sexual harassment. “If you treat women that way,” said Courtis, “you’ll treat the environment that way. If you aren’t punished for bad behavior, then you’re going to do it to everything and anything else.”

“Last year a lot of mothers went to marches in DC and New York City,” said Conte. “We noticed a number of fathers who came to march in Woodstock with their children, to support the women. That’s a sign of how the men come together and are teaching their children the importance of women.”

Last year’s event caught even the organizers by surprise when, instead of just a couple hundred stalwart Woodstock activists marching down the street, crowds poured into town — even though the trio started organizing on impulse just a week and a half before the event. This year, they have been working together for weeks. They put out a call for volunteers early on, so they have assistance for the multitude of tasks and arrangements required.

Woodstock officials have again been supportive. As the women hand out posters to businesses, the proprietors are expressing excitement about the march. Two sign-making sessions were held at Kathy Anderson’s school of art in Bearsville, building energy for the event. “All the support makes me realize Woodstock is a place I truly call home,” said Conte. “This is a special place.”

They’ve also been reminding restaurants to order extra food for Saturday. Last year, many places ran out.

The marchers will be accompanied by Tin Horn Uprising, a brass band that participates in marches with inspiring, chant-like songs. When the procession reaches Bradley Meadows, Journey Blue Heaven will perform music, including sing-alongs. Local activist Rachel Marco-Havens will speak on environmental issues.

Back at the town green, Jennifer DuBois, who sang last year, will be performing. “She sings from the soul,” said Conte.

“We just want people to show up for a peaceful, positive, uplifting event,” said Courtis, “to see how we can move forward.”

The Woodstock Women’s March will begin at 11 a.m., Saturday, January 20, at Andy Lee Field, Rock City Road, Woodstock. Bring water and dress warm. If possible, please carpool or walk to the starting point. Parking will be available at both municipal lots on Rock City Road, Bradley Meadows on Mill Hill Road, the Comeau Property on Tinker Street. Cars can be left at the Bearsville Complex for carpooling into town. Speakers and musicians may be heard at Bradley Meadows and the town green. At 1 p.m. at the town green, a moment of silence will be observed. Check the Facebook page “2018 Women’s March on Woodstock, NY” for updates and tips.

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