Tierney Watkinson | News Director
On July 8, Prince George showed its Pride in full colour in the Veteran’s Plaza in front of City Hall.
The events of the 20th Annual Pride Celebration began at 10am and went into full swing after the 11am parade and continued through to 3pm.
Performers and volunteers garbed in brilliant colours proudly walked the parade route, smiling and waving and often handing out candy and free hugs. Escorted by a Police cruiser, The Prince George Pride Society led the parade. Hundreds of people followed behind, wearing or carrying rainbow flags, twirling rainbow parasols, or sporting face paints in varying colours. Wonder Woman made an appearance; as did Deadpool, wearing a sexy biker outfit and cheerfully taking selfies with anyone who asked. Multiple floats prepared by groups and businesses from throughout Prince George displayed wonderfully decorated vehicles. Familiar faces from UNBC’s Northern Pride Centre proudly walked the route and PG Roller Derby members skated amongst the floats. Countless dogs dressed in colourful wigs and tiny rainbow hats were the subject of ceaseless audience praise. Dancers of all ages representing the Zahirah Dance Studio-North moved gracefully down the street, belts and bracelets jingling and dresses billowing like butterfly wings of gold, ivory, or green. The Queens of the Drag performance, which would be shown later in the day, waved gracefully from a float sponsored by Home Depot, resplendent in their sparkling or flower crowns and beautiful dresses.
The parade was interrupted briefly when a fire crew was called out and crowds had to be split to allow emergency vehicles to pass through. However, people moved respectfully out of the way without incident and the festivities soon resumed. Later in the parade, a couple of cars who either had ignored the barriers or did not realize the parade was happening accidentally ended up in the parade; one individual even drove against the crowd as the parade was coming to an end, forcing participants and at least one float to move out of the way in their determination to get to wherever they just could not wait to be. No one was harmed and the individual remains unnamed.
Food trucks for businesses including the White Goose Bistro and Menchies welcomed the crowds in the Veteran’s Plaza following the parade. The CNC Student Union handed out free fruits and vegetables as snacks; Goodlife Fitness was hosting contests for t-shirts; and numerous other kiosks hosted by Telus, Erin Stagg Fine Art, and Purple Monarch Design among others were displayed or selling wares. Booths featuring The Northern Pride Centre, BC Nurses Union, and the PG Humane Society were also present and working to raise funds, and above all spread awareness about care and inclusivity. On a nearby street, the Saturday Farmer’s Market was also in full swing, adding their booths to the selection presented at the Pride Celebration.
Meanwhile, songs arranged by DJ Ant resonated across the plaza. Lipsync performances by Drag Queens, a selection of songs presented by Judy Russell’s Anne of Green Gables performers, dances by Zahirah Dance Studio, and beats performed by the Khast’an Drummers were interspersed throughout the day. At a distance from the stage, Blackspruce Farm Tours showcased a small petting zoo featuring goslings, a bunny, and enough tiny goat kids to make many children (and adults) attending the event very happy.
As a family-friendly event, the celebration also coincided with KidzArt Dayz, which was presented by BMO and Two Rivers Art Gallery, and included multiple tents and games centered around art and science for children to enjoy. This event was spread across the Civic Centre. Air-powered rockets, face painting, and photo booths were just some of the activities and attractions. Booths themed around “Frontier Fun”, “Java Fossils” and “Creative Science” could be found across the centre. Performers such as Charlotte and Matt Diamond were singing children’s’ songs to a massive crowd of amazed children and parents.
The Pride Celebration was inclusive, family-friendly, and attended by beautiful, joyous, polite people celebrating everyone’s true colours. We can surely look forward to next year’s celebration, which will have a hard time topping this one.
Prince George Pride hosted the event along with Celebrate Prince George, which is supported by Tourism Prince George and the City of Prince George. The Pride Society’s official Facebook page credits BCGEU, TD, Telus, and UFCW 1518 as being Platinum Sponsors; and credits MoveUP as a Gold Sponsor for Prince George Pride 2017.