By DANIEL TIRABASSI
(Images courtesy of Daniel Tirabassi)
On Saturday, August 25 , Akron hosted their second annual Pride event in the city.
The day started at 11 a.m. with a two mile march through the city. The march had around 2,000 participants. These participants included vendors, drag performers and community members alongside survivors of the Pulse Nightclub shooting, Javier Nava, Tiffany Johnson and Christopher Hansen. It ended at the festival in Hardesty Park in West Akron. The festival officially opened at noon and ran until 6 p.m. The festival kicked off with a performance by the Flaggots Ohio in the vendor area directly following the march.
Over 150 vendors were in attendance, which included many nonprofit organizations, local small businesses, corporations, food concessions and services catering to the LGBTQ+ community. This included Kent State University, TransOhio, Cleveland Clinic, Akron Children’s Hospital and many others who gave out information on services they provide for the LGBTQ+ community.
The day was filled with two stages worth of entertainment. This included local drag performers, bands and speeches. However, many attendees spent the entire day at the festival to see the headlining performer, Betty Who, an Australian singer-songwriter. One aspect that set Akron Pride apart was the use of a sign language interpreter at both stages for all the entertainment.
Akron Pride was sponsored by many companies. The march was sponsored solely by PNC Bank . However, the entire event is organized by the Community AIDS Network/Akron Pride Initiative (CANAPI). The organization plans each festival along with various other events throughout the year.
The event was staffed by over 350 volunteers from all over the state. These volunteers did tasks such as coordinate vendors, sell merchandise, run the beverage stand and many other jobs. They even had a dedicated recycling team that helped to recycle 65 pounds of beer cups! These recyclables were taken to Summit Reworks for processing.
Akron Pride was a family-friendly event. The festival featured a kids’ area with bounce houses, a playground, games and a small Ferris wheel. The games and Ferris wheel were provided by Bortner Shows Midway, an LGBTQ+ friendly amusement company, for attendees to take part in for free. This kept many of the children entertained while parents stood only feet away at the second stage.
The love could be felt throughout the festival all day. Judge Ron Cable of the Akron Municipal Court performed two wedding ceremonies during the event. Peter Sloan married Gregory West and Rouselyn Gonzalez married Sellina Curbelo, right in front of the second stage. Later on in the day, a proposal was witnessed by the main stage during the performance of Betty Who.
These acts of love are what make Pride events so important. Akron Pride ended the Pride season in Ohio.
With over 10,000 in attendance and the atmosphere of joy, Pride is very much alive in Northeastern Ohio. People from all over the state attended making the day fun and energetic.
This has been the atmosphere of many prides I have attended, making me believe that Pride is not only alive, but thriving.
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