The whole idea started after a group from Go Art, calling themselves “Go Out” marched in the Memorial Day Parade in Batavia. Organizer Gregory Hallock noticed a positive response from the crowd, and thought “Why not a Pride Parade here?”. Being that the 50th anniversary of Stonewall was coming up, they decided that it would be a great time to do it. With a little help from their friends at The Out Alliance, they had about a month to get it together.
“If we don’t just do it, it’s not going to happen”-Gregory Hallock
First they had to apply for a “general event application” get a permit from the City. Only one person in the Council Meeting objected on the basis that “children go to parades”, and he cited “morality”. The City granted the permit with no issues.
The planning began. They had to get the word out, vendors, a DJ, and of course no Pride Parade would be complete without drag queens and kings. As word spread more and more businesses signed on as sponsors, at last count they were up to 34.
In two weeks time Batavia NY had it’s first Pride Parade ever.
Everyone got lined up rather orderly. There was around 350 parade participants from all walks of life, school marching bands playing Village People music, at least one City Councilperson, and you absolutely can’t have a Pride Parade without a protester or 2. There were 4 protesters in all. A group of three men, one with a microphone and speaker preaching from a Bible, and one guy standing silently at the corner of Main St holding a sign.
Then there was Free Hugs ROC, a group from Rochester. They are a group of Moms, Dads, Aunts, Uncles all offering up free hugs to anyone and everyone. Peter Henley, from Akron was there with his son Spencer sporting his “Free Dad Hugs” T-shirt.
The whole entire parade took about 5 minutes to go past. There was a pretty good crowd along the parade path that ended up on Bank St and Main. The road was blocked off there for the festival. The festival part kicked off with the singing of The National Anthem. By the end of it, you could hear pretty much everyone singing loudly and proudly. Then the regular “thank you” speeches followed by a drag show complete with a tribute to Judy Garland.
At the end, there was some Pride Debris scattered about. This about sums up the message of the day. -JAP-