Muskegon took a leap in June. We held the first Pride Festival in the City that involved utilizing city streets and parks and assets. Muskegon is an awesome place to call home, and a part of that is a little slower pace on most things. People take a little longer here to fold in what's going on in other areas. Depending on your view point, that can be either good or bad. Looking back over the past 20 years or so, when new things come along, there's generally some question marks out there. From a giant biker rally to publicly placed art, we all have opinions, and in time....generally we all come to the conclusion of "ok, that's a pretty good thing".
June is Pride Month for the LGBTQ community. In Muskegon, a group decided that they were going to take on the challenge of bringing something new to town, a Pride Festival. It was like any other festival. Months of planning. Weeks of labor. Lots of hoops to jump through for permits and things. But it all came together and it happened. What happened along with the Pride Festival is the big story however.
The day of the Muskegon Pride Festival, there were a multitude of events happening. There was the Pub Pedal, The Lakeshore Legacy Project Concerts at Hot Rod Harley-Davidson, The Muskegon Pride Festival and a HUGE benefit for a boy with cancer at Pat's Roadhouse. What set Pride a part? Being the "new kid" with a festival theme that can be quickly judged by some is a risk. The risk paid off. All of the events happening at the same time helped each other immensely and to see the different interests in the groups of people mixing and mingling was staggering. It was a cross section of humanity like I have personally never seen in Muskegon before. So many different people talking, learning, sharing and yes...even just stopping for a look. Exposure to the stories and backgrounds, similarities and differences. Alliance building. How can these events work together in the future and integrate more? The Pride Festival brought in a link to bridge a gap between what should be competing groups and how can combining forces benefit all? It was truly an amazing day. Observing everything from the headlining entertainment to the flow of people from site to site on Western Avenue down to Hot Rod Harley-Davidson it was clear to see that the by gone days of tumbleweeds in Downtown Muskegon are forever forgotten and that there's truly room for all.
I met up with Hannah Vela who was one of the organizers of the inaugural event in 2022. We had a visit at the Muskegon Farmers Market to talk about the work that went in to the planning and pulling off of the festival as well as a little after glow and plans for 2023. Take a listen.
A sincere congratulations to the team that made this event happen. The Pride Festival brought a lot of fun, food, education and opportunity. While I was down strolling the footprint of the festival, I stopped at a sponsor booth and one young vendor had made over $700 bucks for her crochet handy work. The Pride Festival also brought us some opened eyes and hopefully a few opened hearts. Equality is what we are all in search of. Acceptance is all that's being asked and the idea of people being themselves....it's truly the human quest. Trust me, I lived with the "dirty shameful secret" of being an addict for far too long. Anyone who's got to suppress who they are because of the pressure they feel from elsewhere....they deserve more and we all need to do better at giving them that grace. We'll see you for Muskegon Pride 2023.