Family Week Quandary In P-Town

Some business owners in Provincetown are unhappy with Family Week, the annual event that brings hundreds of gay families to town, saying that business in the bars and the higher end shops falls by as much as 50%. Next year Family Week organizers plan to push the event back to the first week of August, heightening fears of greater lost sales at guesthouses, clubs, and restaurants.

“Families with young children don’t do the same things on vacation as adults do,” said Todd Dever from Forbidden Fruit, 173 Commercial St. “In July and August we are shooting for certain figures each week. Family Week has tracked over my four seasons at half of what it should be.”

Dever said he feels a “horrible dilemma” between “doing the right thing” and encouraging families, particularly gay families, to come to Provincetown, and discouraging them because of the negative impact on sales. He suggested moving Family Week to either the week before or week after July 4th, traditionally a slower period that could benefit from an influx of visitors.

However, Jennifer Chrisler, executive director of Family Equality Council, the organizers of Family Week, said many children are still in school the last week in June, and the week after July 4th would conflict with the annual “R” Family Vacation summer cruise, offered to gay families by Rosie O’Donnell’s company. Many of the families that come to Family Week also go on the cruise, Chrisler said. In addition, Family Equality Council provides the educational seminars on the “R” Family Vacation cruises and staff are too busy that week to produce two events, she said.

Some P-Town regulars tend to avoid visiting during Family Week, saying they enjoy the resort town specifically because of its all-gay, all-adult atmosphere. Family Week attendees counter that they do indeed eat out and patronize local businesses and that nobody should be told when they can or cannot visit.

I know it’s just once a year, but that one week can make or break a joint in a town that has such a short season. Businesses should suck it up and look for ways to serve the gay families with something that appeals to them. The money’s right there on the table, just find a way to make it worth parting with. That said, I’m trying to think what the bars and clubs could do in that regard. Toddler T-Dance?