In response to recent commentary, regarding our 2016 (Season 10) First Friday Souther Pines animal policy, we would like to outline our rationale on disallowing dogs this year at the event. First Friday is a free admission, non-profit concert series, which is overseen by volunteers at The Sunrise Theater. It is designed to foster vibrancy, in both a social and business sense, for our wonderful and special local community. As it is open to the public, people of all ages are certainly welcome, and while everyone is encouraged to come, it is actually a private event, and the Sunrise Theater assumes the responsibility of running the event safely and securely, so that it can remain family-friendly.
Through the first nine seasons, we have had an open-door policy on bringing dogs to the event. That changes this year, and we think by necessity. However, it should be noted that we still will allow seeing-eye dogs for vision-impaired patrons, and service dogs for disabled individuals (for example, military vets who are wheelchair-bound and are constantly accompanied by a dog). This decision was rendered for this tenth season, as (1) the event has grown and expanded to an extent were there are as many as 1500-2000 people on site; and as (2) there have been multiple occasions where dogs have gotten into fights with each other on the First Friday grounds. We have police officers at each and every event, but it is not their responsibility to intervene in these instances.
The members of the First Friday committee, and the Board of the Sunrise Theater have given this a great deal of thought. The decision on making a policy change has nothing to do with liking or disliking dogs … it is actually the case that virtually every member of the Sunrise Theater Board has a dog of their own. But rather, the decision is one based solely on safety. We all feel very strongly that pre-empting an event like a small child (and/or an adult) being caught-up in a skirmish, or being bitten or attacked directly … is certainly preferable to dealing with the aftermath of an injury. It should also be expressed that we felt that banning only large dogs, and not small ones, would be far too difficult to monitor and enforce. And finally, while many people truly love dogs, we are also aware that there are some people, young and old, who either do not share that passion, or are actually afraid of dogs, and we must respect this. There are two sides to every coin, and both points are valid.
The tremendous success of our event is a product of careful thought and planning, and we feel obligated to oversee the proceedings responsibly, so that people of all ages can safely attend. We look forward to seeing each of you on site, at what will unquestionably be our best season yet!
The Sunrise Theater