Women’s Pack the Plaza rally returning to Oil City

Celebrating and empowering women is the theme of Pack the Plaza 2, a rally that has been planned for Sunday, March 10, in the Central Avenue Plaza in Oil City.

The free rally is being organized and sponsored by the Zonta Club of Oil City-Franklin and the Oil City YWCA. The two women’s organizations share the mission of “empowering women.”

The rally will also kick off the celebration of the Oil City YWCA’s 100-year anniversary this year.

International Women’s Day annually falls on March 8, and the first Pack the Plaza rally was held March 8, 2020, just a few days before the COVID-19 shutdowns started across the country.

This year, the rally is two days after International Women’s Day and is planned from 1 to 3 p.m. that day.

Organizers for the event include three prominent women in the Venango County community — Bonnie Summers, Deb Lutz and Judy Etzel.

“Strong women make strong families which make a strong community,” Summers said.

“The rally is not just for women, it is open to the men and boys who love them,” said Etzel, who added that for her the highlight of the rally is “celebrating women.”

“We have an incredible array of talented women in this area, and this is about empowering the younger women…they work so hard,” Etzel said.

Summers said she is most looking forward to “the camaraderie of women as we are all here to lift each other up.”

Summers and Etzel will serve as masters of ceremonies for the program. Lutz, who is the president of Oil City-Franklin Zonta, will give the opening and closing remarks.

The two main speakers will be Marie Veon, a former Venango County president judge and district attorney; and Mark Elliston, the vicar of Christ Episcopal Church in Oil City.

Other speakers will include Jennifer Friedhaber, executive director of the Oil City YWCA; Jane Horos, the health and fitness director at the YWCA; business owners Jessica Hoffman and Emily Lineman; Ashley Smith of the Venango Area Chamber of Commerce; and Sister Tina Geiger and Sister Mirian Wehler of Catholic Rural Ministry.

Refreshments and music by Porch Music will follow the rally at Christ Episcopal Church, which is adjacent to the plaza.

A number of local service agencies and women’s groups will have educational and informational materials at the rally.

Magnets emblazoned with “she believed she could, so she did” will also be handed out at the rally.

And YWCA centennial items and yellow rose pins will also be for sale at the event.

Local businessman Robert Fry is also one of the rally sponsors.