Friday, April 20, 2012

William Kennedy hosts Pinkster Celebration on 6/1

In Pulitzer Prize-winning author William Kennedy's new novel, Chango's Beads and Two-Tone Shoes, he writes of the Albany Pinksterfest as follows:

"The Pinksterfest, held when the azaleas bloomed, was a week-long Mardi Gras where the slaves of Albany vented their misfortune through music, dance and carousing."

Please make plans to Join our Honored Guest, William Kennedy, on Friday, June 1 as we host the 2nd annual Pinkster Day Celebration at the National Register-listed University Club of Albany.

In the 18th century in New York's Hudson Valley, Pinkster Day was a most-anticipated holiday. Pinkster Day was a celebration of spring for all: a religious holiday for the Dutch, and for enslaved Africans, time off from work and a chance to gather with friends and family. The holiday began on the seventh Monday following Easter, the day after the Christian Holy Day of Pentecost or Whitsunday. In 2012, Pinkster Day falls on Memorial Day (May 28), so we will delay our celebration until Friday, June 1.

This year, our Pinkster Day Celebration boasts one of Albany's favorite sons as its Honored Guest, William Kennedy. For some 40 years, he has crafted history and memory into a body of literature that is as remarkable for its variety as it is for erecting an Albany of the imagination. As some have said, "What James Joyce did for Dublin and Saul Bellow did for Chicago, William has done for Albany." 

The celebration of Pinkster Day was outlawed by the Albany Common Council on April 28, 1811, with a resolution that read, "No person shall erect any tent, booth or stall within the limits of this city, for the purpose of vending any spirituous liquors, beer, mead or cider, or any kind of meat, fish cakes or fruit, on the days commonly called Pinxter; nor to collect in numbers for the purpose of gambling or dancing, or any other amusements, in any part of the city, or to march or parade, with or without any music under a penalty of ten dollars or confinement in jail." Club members petitioned the Common Council to repeal the ban, and the prohibition was lifted on May 16, 2011. The Club's inaugural Pinkster Day Celebration was held on Monday, June 13.

The University Club revived the Pinkster Day tradition in 2011 to commemorate the listing of the Clubhouse on the National Register of Historic Places. The Pinkster Day Celebration honored Albany's rich history by with readings from four centuries of scholarly and popular publications documenting the people and places of New York's capital city. Readers included Justin DiVirgilio, Paul Stewart, Jennifer Lemak, University Club President Warren Abriel, Paul Grondahl and Ed Dague.

Tickets for the 2012 Pinkster Day Celebration are $50 per person. Invitations will be mailed by May 1 - please call the U. Club at 518-463-1151 for more information or to receive an invitation. 

The event will feature a cocktail reception with light fare and open bar from 6:00 - 7:00 p.m., followed by a talk and book signing with William Kennedy. Books will be available for purchase from The Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza, and the University Club will keep 20% of the cover price. When the reception wraps up at 8:00 p.m., we invite all Pinkster Day revelers to head down to the Grille Room for live music from Julia Donnaruma and Friends as part of the University Club's ongoing support of 1st Friday. On the first Friday of each month, the University Club serves as a venue for 1st Friday, the downtown arts walk that showcases Albany's thriving and lively art scene!

This promises to be a historic evening! By joining us for the Pinkster Day Celebration, you will honor the legacy of University Club members past and present as we strive to preserve our historic traditions for the future. 

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