The Cranbrook Pride Society had to be creative in planning this year’s event, due to restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
There will be two events this year. The first and biggest event is the youth pride event, which takes place on Friday, July 17. This is a virtual pizza party held over Zoom for the kids.
Cranbrook Pride has partnered with Dominoes Pizza for the past few years, but this year they are going to deliver free pizzas to every youth who participates.
Dominoes will have several of their own drivers, along with some volunteers from Cranbrook Pride’s board, who will go out and deliver pizzas from 7:30 to 8 p.m. on Friday.
They will have a DJ spinning tunes for a virtual dance party over the Zoom event. They’ve also hired a magician drag performer and a drag king who will be performing as well.
Cut off for registration has already passed, but there is still room for people to sign up. The organizers just wanted enough notice to make sure they had all the addresses in for the pizzas to be delivered to and to plan out a route for the delivery. Everything else can be signed up for whenever.
“Registration has been good,” said Cranbrook Pride co-chair Michelle Richardson. “Last I heard we had about 20 youth, and we might have more at this point.”
Fernie Pride contacted the board and asked if they’d be willing to allow the youth there to participate, to which Cranbrook Pride responded “absolutely.” Unfortunately they will be excluded from the pizza delivery component of the evening, but Richardson said they’ve opened it up to the surrounding area, Moyie, Kimberley and Fernie to take part in the Zoom event.
On July 18, Pride has partnered with the folks who organized the birthday parades, which started up shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic set in, and Pride will be doing a similar thing.
Starting at 7 p.m. on Saturday people who register in advance on the Cranbrook Pride Facebook page will decorate their vehicles and they will all meet at the College of the Rockies at 6:30 p.m. to depart at 7 to do a “Drive For Pride Car Parade.”
“People can either participate in the driving aspect of things, but also we have opened up a contest where people decorate their front yards and take pictures and submit them to our Facebook page and from there we’re going to choose a number of them for a prize and then we’re actually going to let social media decide who wins.”
This will be the ninth year of Pride in Cranbrook. Richardson said it originally started with the board members at that time announcing it as simply as a barbecue.
“Because we didn’t know how Cranbrook would handle that,” Richardson said. “So originally it was just a barbecue and stuff but since then we’ve expanded immensely.”
She said that in the last three years since she and her wife have been co-chair they’ve managed to bring in drag shows, and all sorts of other events, that typically are held in Rotary Park in June, where they have bouncy castles, face-painting, a live DJ and food provided.
“It’s a crazy event normally,” she said. “We didn’t want to not have anything Pride happening. So we definitely had to think of a way to let it be known that we’re still here, we’re still celebrating, it’s just in a different form this year.”
Richardson said that she personally got involved with the organization because when she met her now wife, she was a part of the board at the time, and Richardson wanted to hang out with her.
“Almost four years later now I’m running it,” she said with a laugh.
Richardson grew up in Cranbrook, moving here at age 12. She moved away for about five years when she was 19.
“I moved to Calgary, I wanted the big-city Pride feel to things, but since moving back I feel that it’s really important to small communities like Cranbrook and Kimberley to have something for the youth, because they’re going to be our leaders of tomorrow, is my way of looking at.”
She said that one day she would love to see her step daughter, who is now 14, to be able to be comfortable wherever she may be, including small towns.
“I think the perspective to people is that the big cities have the big LGBTQ groups and events and all this kind of stuff and then you’re stuck in a small town and you’ve got nothing,” Richardson said. “And that’s why we continue to try and expand it where hopefully one day we’ll have events happening every month.”
This year, Cranbrook Pride partnered with the Boys and Girls Club and prior to the pandemic were hosting youth events.
“Our main focus is youth,” Richardson said. “Myself and my wife can’t run this forever, we would like one of them to get into adulthood and take over.”
She said that looking back at the first years of Pride in Cranbrook, when they didn’t even announce their barbecue was a Pride event until it was already underway and were then told the following year they’d need to find somewhere else to host it, things have changed.
“I feel like now, nine years later, we’re really out there. We don’t hide it anymore.”
She said she feels that her and her wife, as well as the board members and volunteers who came before them, have helped make the LGBTQ community feel more visible and accepted in Cranbrook and Kimberley.
“I feel like when I was a youth living in this town it was very hard to be who I was, and now when I meet the youth I feel like they’re a lot more comfortable having those conversations and being able to talk to people about it.”
She mentioned the Pride crosswalks that have been put in at schools around the area.
“With us creating more and more events directed towards the youth I feel like they’re finally saying, ‘okay Cranbrook can be a town that is accepting,’” she said, but acknowledged they still have work to do.
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“No matter what we won’t make everybody happy by doing these kind of events,” she said, adding they’ve already seen some backlash on social media for their upcoming event.
“It’s bound to happen but I hope that one day we can create an event and not have any backlash from the community.
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