Mississippi College

MC Alums Join 30th New York Picnic

May 20, 2009

"Celebrate Mississippi" is the theme for the 30th annual picnic in New York with Mississippi College alumni joining the Magnolia State reunion June 13.

MC Choctaws from metropolitan New York will be on hand as Mississippi authors take part in book signings, and chefs offer cooking demonstrations. McAlister's Deli sweet tea figures to be in big demand at Central Park that Saturday. Festivities run from noon until 6 p.m. Artists will display their latest creations in the Manhattan park at 5th Avenue and 97th Street.

MC Director of Alumni Affairs Ross Aven and Vice President for Advancement Bill Townsend will greet alumni and welcome the university's friends to the party. MC will have its own table under a giant tent the school will share with a few other Mississippi universities, Aven said.

The New York Mississippi Picnic began in 1979 when a handful of Mississippians living in New York City decided to gather and spotlight the state's accomplishments and heritage. The first picnic attracted 500 people, with up to 2,000 expected this year, including Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour. At one of the earlier events, former New York Mayor Ed Koch joined in as participants feasted on watermelon and fried catfish. Mississippians attending such schools as Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Delta State and Millsaps plus schools in the Northeast are invited to this year's picnic.

For decades, Mississippi universities, colleges, plus alumni associations teamed with economic development and tourism groups to promote the state. Tourism officials from Jackson, Hattiesburg, the Gulf Coast, Vicksburg and other cities are coming June 13.

"The picnic is definitely a wonderful opportunity to showcase our state and share Mississippi's culture and hospitality with the people of New York," said Gray Swoope, executive director of the Mississippi Development Agency. Lunch plates are $10 and beverages are $1.

Due to the event's success that's gotten the attention of "The New York Times" and other media outlets, other Southern states like Alabama and Arkansas are trying to do similar events in the Big Apple, said Rachel McPherson, one of the Mississippi picnic founders.

In case of rain, the event will move to the Arsenal Gallery at 830 Fifth Avenue in New York City. For more information about the picnic, contact Rachel McPherson at 718.788.2988 or email NYMSPicnic@yahoo.com or reach Ross Aven at 601.925.3228 or aven@mc.edu

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