The Invasion. Est. 1976. The 70’s.
There can be no telling of the Invasion story without the Homecoming queen. For that is how it begins every year…
The tradition began in 1976 as a local drag queen named Panzi ( aka Thom Hansen) was named Homecoming Queen of Cherry Grove.
Homecoming queen Panzi. 1976 Homecoming queen Panzi. 1977
It was the bicentennial and another local drag queen named Teri Warren went over to the Pines for dinner. Teri lived his life as a woman. A transgender before the word was invented. So it was natural for him to arrive as her. The Pines at this time was undercover gay. Sure it was where the boys were, but so were the straights who at that point out numbered them in population and demographic. John Whyte a model who owned most of the properties was gay, but old school, and worked at keeping everything low profile.
There was no drag in the Pines. John was not about letting a Cherry Grove influence be part of the aura of the Pines he had built. So when Teri arrived she was told that it was a family establishment and was not welcomed. Embarrassed, and shamed she went back to the grove. Upon telling her story to friends the story grew…
Panzi and eight friends (Max Killingworth, Gene Taylor, Chuck Young, Jack Flood, Amelia Migillaccio, Lyn Hutton, Nick Sinisi and his date) were enjoying a few cocktails at “Tara” a Cherry Grove house. While watching the Bicentennial on TV of the flotilla of tall ships from all over the world sailing on the Hudson the conversation turned to what had happened to Teri. Opinions mounted, and a decision was made that day that something had to be done. A statement of some kind was forming. The group decided to get the full drag on and create a flotilla of their own. They hired a water taxi from Randy and Sally’s to take them to the Pines.
They all put on there finest and the journey began. As they approached the Pines harbor and saw a packed Tea Dance at the Blue Whale. There was no turning back as Randy blared the horn on the water Taxi.
As they approached the sea of people parted…
As they announced to the crowd the queen was here to bless the harbor it created a ripple through the crowd. The queen was here to bless the harbor, bless the harbor, bless the harbor. They were escorted to the top floor of the Botel where a blessing was made up on the spot. Cocktails were offered, and soon they were back on the taxi heading back to the grove wondering how they pulled off this show.
They became the talk of the grove for the rest of the season as unknown to them they created history.
The next season Panzi re-elected herself Homecoming queen again as no one was stepping up. As the season progressed everyone was asking if the visit to the Pines would happen again. And so the Invasion tradition was born. As more drag queens wanted to be part of it more water taxi’s were hired. Fittingly called the Nina, Pina, and Santa Maria.
As the participants grew so did the Pines audience…
Panzi tells the story here: