The July 13 Columbian story reported “Park Service to churches: No picnic — Denial of request to have event at Pearson Field leads organizers to cancel.” To me, the cancellation of the All Church Picnic is a matter of intentional harassment of families and churches in the community. What could be more benign than families out for a day, enjoying music, watching their children play, and networking with vendors for preschool and other educational opportunities?
The city of Vancouver never suggested that a permit would be necessary in the three years prior, nor did the National Park Service, which obviously knew what group was using the land. A Park Service official cited, “a meaningful association between the park areas and the event … contribute to visitor understanding of the significance of the park area,” as a reason for all events. The Washington State School for the Blind held a fundraiser auction in February at Pearson Field that had nothing to do with the Fort Vancouver National Site (which includes Pearson). The adaptations suggested by the officials for the All Church Picnic were obviously made to seem helpful but were, in reality, totally impossible.
The fort site uses volunteers and donations from the community but will restrict use of the land for a picnic. A double standard?