Aldous Tyler has nothing but good things to say about Glass Nickel, whose west-side outlet last year sold pizza and distributed flyers for Pagan Pride Day, an annual celebration of all things pagan.
"I'm glad they supported the event," says Tyler, one of the organizers. "But this year, they just said they can't do it." He suspects that someone complained.
He's right. "Some of our employees were uncomfortable when they saw the flyers," says Noel Johnson, the outlet's business operations coordinator. So was owner Neil Spath, who according to Johnson "strongly believes in the separation of church and pizza" and halted the distribution of flyers. Johnson admits Tyler was not told about this: "We were not upfront about this to him at the time."
Johnson (a former Isthmus employee) says her Glass Nickel outlet has a policy of religious neutrality so as not to alienate employees or customers. "It's not like we refused to serve pagans. We were happy to be a vendor at this event. It was the sponsorship that was the issue." She adds, "I have attended a pagan solstice celebration myself, and have nothing against pagans."
Who does? The Madison Area Pagan Pride Day, now in its 11th year, attracted more than 600 guests in 2007. This year's event, on Saturday, Sept. 27, at Lakeview Park in Middleton, will include a pagan fashion show, workshops on topics like ritual drumming, collections of food, clothes, and toiletries for local charities, and even what Tyler jokingly calls a "blood sacrifice": a drive to sign up donors to the Red Cross.
"The idea is to reach out to the general community and let others see for themselves what we're all about," says Tyler. And yes, there will be food: Milio's sandwiches will be sold at the event.