Central Alberta Pride Week a big success

Organizers say week-long celebration eclipses last year’s numbers

Serge Gingras laughs on Monday that he is still riding a “rainbow high.”

And why not?

Central Alberta Pride Week, which wrapped up on Sunday, could not have gone better, says Gingras, chairman of the Central Alberta Pride Society.

“It went phenomenally well,” he said. “It was just a great week. I’m totally pleased with it.

“We had good attendance at all of our events and people were really, really happy with what we offered them.”

The numbers of participants eclipsed last year’s tallies for the week-long event right from the opening Pride in the Park event at Bower Ponds on Aug. 13. About 800 celebrated this year, double the number who joined the festivities last year.

More than 500 turned out for the Drag Show and Dance at Sheraton Red Deer Hotel, compared with about 300 last year, when it was held at a smaller venue.

“It was a phenomenal event,” he said. “In my estimate, it was the biggest event the LGBTQ community had ever hosted in Red Deer.”

Reviews from participants were glowing, as they were for the many other events, such as Wednesday’s sold-out Somewhere Over the Rainbow Burlesque Show and the Trans and Non-Binary Aid Society (TANAS)-hosted Rainbow Block Party.

The block party at the West Park Activity Centre drew many children, teens and parents.

“It was just wonderful to see young people and high school kids play together and have fun together without the fear of being judged,” said Gingras.

“I had conversations with high school students and they said that, you know, we need more safe spaces in Red Deer and more activities like the one that TANAS offered.”

Besides the entertainment, Pride Week provided opportunities for discussion. The LGBTQ and Aging Community Conversation, which drew about 60 people to the Golden Circle Senior Resource Centre last Tuesday.

“It created a safe place for older LGBTQ membres to stand up and share their stories with us,” he said. “It was quite touching for me.”

A human rights forum, “Understanding Gender Identity and Gender Expression in Employment and Services,” at the Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery was also well received.

“The two events, I think, will lead to more converstions during the year,” he said. “I’m hoping to see additional activity deriving from that.”

pcowley@reddeeradvocate.com

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