Over 1000 marchers expected for Franklin County Pride parade

Over 1000 marchers expected for Franklin County Pride parade

The Franklin County Pride Parade is set to make a grand return to Greenfield, Massachusetts, with over 1,000 marchers expected to participate. This year marks the eighth annual celebration, and organizers are anticipating it to be the most attended event yet. Parade Coordinator Jake Krain has confirmed that 70 groups will be part of the parade, including 14 school groups. The march will commence at noon from Greenfield Middle School and proceed to Energy Park, where a festival and block party will continue until 4 p.m.

Krain emphasized the significance of this year’s event, noting that it will feature the largest number of marchers in the parade’s history. “We have closed off all of Miles Street and Energy Park, so it will have a real block party feel to it, with more room for people to celebrate and more room for vendors,” Krain said. “We’re really just continuing to expand and grow in a really positive way.”

The festival will showcase performances from a variety of artists, including the headlining Brattleboro, Vermont-based punk band Thus Love. Other performers include Crys Matthews, Pamela Means, Carrie Ferguson, The B-52.0s, Mz. October/Maylay, and several local artists. The event will also see the attendance of notable figures such as Sen. Jo Comerford, Rep. Natalie Blais, Rep. Susannah Whipps, Mayor Ginny Desorgher, and At-Large City Councilor Penny Ricketts.

This year’s theme, “Be Seen. Be Heard,” carries a powerful message, especially in light of recent legislative actions like Florida’s 2022 “Don’t Say Gay” bill and rising anti-trans sentiment. Krain hopes the event will serve as a beacon of acceptance for queer youth who may feel marginalized. “For us, it is so important to show up and make sure that our voices, and more importantly, our votes are counted and heard,” Krain said. “This year, we’ve seen such an incredible amount of anti-trans legislation across the country, and it has a real impact. It’s important to stand up against those things and make it known that we’re not going anywhere.”

Franklin County Pride President Heather Mahoney echoed Krain’s sentiments, reflecting on the parade’s growth since its inception in 2016. “Our first Pride in 2016 was walking down the sidewalk because we didn’t have the permits to do the parade, and now we’ll have thousands of people marching and closing down Miles Street and Energy Park to do the festival,” Mahoney said. “I think that speaks volumes to what has changed in our town during that time.”

In addition to the parade and festival, Franklin County Pride has organized several other events to celebrate Pride Month. A Pride flag-raising ceremony was held on June 1 at the Greenfield Common. The Greenfield Public Library has also been active, hosting a Pride gear workshop where participants crafted flags, bracelets, and buttons to wear and distribute at the parade. Teens can make Pride buttons at the library on Fridays, June 7 and June 14, from 3 to 4:30 p.m.

During the festival on June 15, the Greenfield Public Library will set up a pop-up library at Energy Park from 12:30 to 4 p.m., showcasing its summer programs and LGBTQ books. Earlier that morning, a workshop for making rainbow streamers will be held at the library from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., aimed at children ages 3 to 12 and their caregivers.

The parade route will take marchers down Federal Street, turning right onto Main Street, and then left to Energy Park in downtown Greenfield. The community is encouraged to watch and cheer from the sidewalks along the route. Multiple groups and performers will provide music during the parade, including drummers, horn players, and DJs playing festive pop music.

Following the parade, the Franklin County Pride Festival will take place on Miles Street and Energy Park. The area will be closed to traffic, creating a vibrant space for vendors representing community organizations, businesses, and crafts. Food trucks, including Holyoke Hummus and Crooked Stick Popsicles, will be available, and Mesa Verde will provide a water station at their restaurant on Mile Street. Additional water stations will be set up in the park, offering free water to attendees.

The festival will feature musical acts, circus performers, and a face painter in the pocket park. The main stage in Energy Park will host musical performances and speakers, with ASL interpreters signing throughout the event. Due to the high attendance expected, there will be no parking available at Energy Park or along Miles Street during the event.

To ensure accessibility, multiple port-a-johns, including a handicap bathroom, will be stationed at Energy Park and at the top of Miles Street. Golf carts will be available to transport individuals with mobility challenges. A tent for child feeding and changing will be set up near the water station in Energy Park, and a large tent with chairs will provide shaded seating. Attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and can also sit on the large lawn in front of the stage.

Recognizing the historical relationship between the LGBTQIA+ community and police, the organizers have collaborated with the Greenfield Police Department to ensure a safe and welcoming environment. Police will direct traffic on Federal and Main Street, and one officer will be present at Energy Park due to the high attendance expected. Volunteer Peacekeepers will also be on hand to create a safe space for all participants.

The Franklin County Pride Parade and Festival promise to be a joyous and celebratory event, reflecting the progress and resilience of the queer community.

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