Danny Milholland, longtime organizer of the Cake Picnic, grins behind a face mask in front of the ‘78 Cadillac flatbed that will bring music to Port Townsend residents’ homes Saturday, May 16, 2020. Behind him, from left, are Kellen Lynch, Ben Krabil, Allison Barrett and Tomoki Sage. (Submitted photo)

Danny Milholland, longtime organizer of the Cake Picnic, grins behind a face mask in front of the ‘78 Cadillac flatbed that will bring music to Port Townsend residents’ homes Saturday, May 16, 2020. Behind him, from left, are Kellen Lynch, Ben Krabil, Allison Barrett and Tomoki Sage. (Submitted photo)

Cake Picnic going on the road

Saturday livestream to showcase people celebrating in place

PORT TOWNSEND — The organizers of Cake Picnic are taking it to the streets.

The 2020 Port Townsend Rhododendron Festival originally set for the third weekend in May was canceled in early April because of COVID-19 precautions.

That included the Cake Picnic in Pope Marine Park that, for seven years, had served as the crowd-pleasing culmination of the Rhody Fest, offering slices of gourmet cake, live music, dancing and all-ages reveille.

In light of the Gov. Jay Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order, volunteer organizers are going to bring the party to Port Townsend residents as they celebrate in their own yards.

“We want to show what celebration can look like in this chapter of human history,” said event organizer Danny Milholland.

“We acknowledge celebration as essential and also feel health and safety are essential.”

The plan is to tour Port Townsend neighborhoods in an iconic ’78 Cadillac flatbed — a classic car designed to haul classic cars — from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday. Residents are urged to bake their own cakes, dress up and dance to the beats provided by DJ Captain Peacock and special guests Virtuoso Drum Master and Forrest Brennan in their homes, yards, or at a safe distance on the sidewalk.

“For seven years, Cake Picnic has promoted a sense of community and of gathering together to share in abundance,” Milholland said.

“And now, more than ever, we felt the need to honor that essence — to breathe into this new time and find a way to nourish the health and happiness of our community.”

Those interested in having the Cake Picnic float pass by their homes on Saturday are asked to email danny@theproductionalliance.org by noon Friday.

The route will be posted on the event website, cakepicnic.org, late Friday or early Saturday, Milholland said.

The journey, shot form the perspective of the float, will be live-streamed on the Cake Picnic Facebook page, so those who aren’t on the route can participate by video and those who are will be showcased.

“We will capture footage of people partying in place,” Milholland said.

Organizers plan to follow up with a film montage of the event.

“To be clear, this is not an invitation to caravan,” Milholland added. “To protect everyone’s health, we ask that no one follow the float beyond their own neighborhood, and maintain a safe distance from the crew and others at all times.”

This year’s Cake Picnic was also to serve as the unveiling ceremony for The Production Alliance, a new 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization established by Thunderbull Productions to assume management of its roster of free community events.

Instead the new take on the community gathering will serve as a test case of future video-style celebrations to come.

“We’re learning as we go,” Milhjolland said. “We don’t have a crystallized vision of each event.”

This Saturday’s traveling float will provide an opportunity to try out the group’s livestreaming platform “and have a presence in the community so people can experience our event in person without there being a concentration of people,” he said.

The Production Alliance had planned to present 10-12 events this year, in collaboration with its network of public agencies, nonprofit organizations, local businesses, regional vendors and artists, and adult and youth volunteers.

The 2020 season was canceled May 4 after the extension of the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” initiative, said Megan Claflin, director of development for The Production Alliance.

“In order to promote socially responsible practices, we have determined that we cannot promote in-person events at this time,” she said.

“However, The Production Alliance remains optimistic that our annual traditions and community celebrations can still be executed in a digital fashion, and we are exploring opportunities for innovative online gatherings that can nurture social solidarity while physical distancing is in effect.”

The Production Alliance envisions a 2020 season of online gatherings will allow the organization to maintain a connection with the community, promote connectivity and support mental and emotional health, and create opportunities for local artists, craftspeople, educators and farmers to continue to strengthen community resilience.

“We are eager to maintain and nurture a connection with our community now, when that sense of kinship is needed most, and to cultivate a more active online community for future engagement,” Claflin said.

Justine Gonzalez-Berg, director of community engagement, said digital content could include artistic performances, studio tours, educational lectures and workshops, invitations to “celebrate in place,” public health and safety trainings, public service announcements or other informational messages from community leaders.

“Within the coming weeks, with the input of our partners, we will finalize a vision for how best to pivot our operations ensuring that our efforts will result in the highest social impact possible,” she said.

The Cake Picnic is produced by The Production Alliance with the support of The Food Co-op.

For more information or to donate, visit cakepicnic.org.

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