If you drive down Main Street in Middletown, you’ll see traffic, road crews, and rainbows.
The rainbows will help the city make history on Saturday. They’re on tons of Pride flags and banners that hang on light posts and in business windows. It’s all to send a message that the city is about to host its first-ever Pride parade on Saturday. While other Connecticut cities and towns are holding different Pride events, organizers in Middletown say they might be hosting the only Pride parade in Connecticut during National Pride Month (which is June).
“This is an inclusive community,” said Middletown Mayor Dan Drew. “And one that is welcoming and open to all people.”
The Pride Parade is a collaborative effort between the city and the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce, who, with as many as 6,000 people expected, see this as a game changer for the area economy. That’s also because besides the parade, there will also be a festival. Many businesses and restaurants will be holding gay pride events that go from Friday-Sunday.
“I’m psyched about this event,” said Larry McHugh, president of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce. “We want to be inclusive and you’ve got to do that by showing you’re inclusive, not just by wording it.”
The economic clout of the LGBTQ+ community is one symbol of its strength — a strength some people say first showed itself nationally during the now-famous Stonewall uprising in New York in 1969.
For the person who helped the mayor come up with this idea a year ago after suggesting that Middletown hang a Pride flag outside City Hall during Pride Month, seeing this big parade and festival come together is a dream come true.
“It tells me that from 50 years, when The Stonewall Uprising occurred in 1969, we’ve come really a great distance that communities such as Middletown are stepping up to show how inclusive they are , how they stand with their LGBTQ citizens,” said Christopher Smedick, Middletown’s Assistant General Counsel.
The Pride Parade starts at 2:00 pm Saturday on Main Street at St. John’s Square and will proceed down Main Street to Union Street. A festival will take place on the South Green immediately following the conclusion of the parade.
Also afterwards and on Sunday, Main Street businesses and restaurants are opening their doors for Pride events and one company is even offering cruises on the river. That’s part of a Pride on the Water Celebration that kicks off from Harbor Park in Middletown at 7:30pm. Tickets are available for the cruise at the Lady Kate Cruises website.
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