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The Greek Picnic is an annual week-long event during the month of July in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Originally designed as a reunion celebrating African American college fraternities and sororities, it later gained popularity among a large population that do not attend college due to its various popular social activities. "Sister" events also include the Greek Festival in Hampton, Virginia; The Atlanta Greek Picnic in Atlanta, Georgia; The Charlotte Greek Picnic in Charlotte, North Carolina; the Texas Greek Picnic in Houston, Texas, Nashville Greek Picnic in Nashville, Tennessee and Bikers Week in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
The Philadelphia Greek Picnic celebrated its 31st year on July 9, 2005 at the Belmont Grove in Fairmount Park. The Philadelphia Greek Picnic continues to be the nation’s oldest reunion for members of the historic nine African-American fraternities and sororities and people who appreciate and understand college and African American Greek-lettered life.
The Philadelphia Greek Picnic is co-sponsored by the City of Philadelphia, the Office of the Managing Director, the Fairmount Park Commission, the Philadelphia Police Department and the National Pan-Hellenic Council Inc. of Philadelphia. It is managed and coordinated by volunteers of the nine organizations wishing to make the entire week-long experience unforgettable based upon the themes of Scholarship, Fellowship and Respect.
During the early to mid 1990s the picnic grew national notoriety, attracting college students and party-goers from all over the east coast of the United States. The primary festival held in Fairmount Park frequently registered an attendance of 100,000+ people, with another 100,000-200,000 people scattered across the city in support of the events. Also various hip-hop and R&B celebrities can be seen attending the events.
During the week the city receives a large economic boost due to tourism. Hotel and rental-car companies throughout Philadelphia, South Jersey, and Delaware are reserved weeks to months in advance and opportunities for price gouging as the event grows closer are prevalent.
In recent years, the event has grown smaller, quieter and less troublesome to the police as well as attendants due to restructuring by the event organizers.
From the mid to late 1990s the Greek Picnic regressed into an event spoiled by frequent cases of assault, gun-related violence, car-jacking, sexual harassment, sexual assault, and other crimes that seem to only happen at this specific event as opposed to other large gatherings within the city of Philadelphia.
Also during the event, traffic in the Philadelphia Area, particularly in West Philadelphia and South Street is at its most congested level for the year. The Philadelphia Police department often requires significant overtime of its officers for traffic control as well as crime deterrence.
The usual events during the week of the Greek Picnic are as follows:
- Day 0 Saturday- Books and Basketball Tournament, Acres of Diamonds
- Day 1 Sunday- NPHC Worship Service, Cultural Arts Night
- Day 3 Tuesday- Cultural Arts Night
- Day 4 Wednesday- Stop the Violence Urban Dance Competition
- Day 5 Thursday- Comedy Show
- Day 6 Friday- President’s Reception
- Day 7 Saturday- Stompfest Online’s National Stepshow, Fairmount Park Festival
- Day 8 Sunday- Hair and Fashion Showcase