By all accounts, the parade and the pride event that followed in Coronation Park was a huge success.
"Oh my God. It’s awesome. A lot of people were lining the streets…the participation has been unreal,” said Megan Hatfield, who was one of the co-organizers of the event, along with Cas LeBlanc and Joey Benoit. “There will definitely be a next year!”
Participation in the parade was very good with lots of groups, individuals and businesses taking part. There was also a lot of support from the community as many people of all ages turned out to watch the parade. Main Street was lined with parade spectators, many of whom sported rainbow colours themselves and were waving rainbow pride flags. Many local businesses also displayed pride flags to coincide with the event.
The support shown by the parade participants was also great. The atmosphere was festive as the parade made its way along its route.
"I think it was awesome. We walked in the parade with Lawtons,” said Kelsey Stewart, whose eye shadow was a rainbow of colours. She used to reside in Toronto and is now back in Yarmouth. “I’ve always walked in the Toronto Pride Parade and it’s about 10 times the size, but for a small town like Yarmouth I think we had a good turnout.”
Arthur Berry lives in Toronto but his hometown is Yarmouth. He made a special trip home specifically to participate in the parade and proudly wore a Yarmouth 1st Pride Parade shirt as he walked in the parade.
On social media, many people expressed how proud their felt over the pride event.
Previous to the event, co-organizer Cas LeBlanc said the purpose of the day was to raise awareness, understanding and acceptance. She said people in the LGBTQ+ community are often ostracized and many youth are afraid to come forward with their feelings of confusion regarding their sexuality or identity. No one should have to deal with fear, or feel they have to keep secrets from others, for simply being who they are, the organizers said.
“Love will always win over hatred, and we’re hoping when people walk away from our parade and events they leave feeling that love. Unity and acceptance are such important things,” LeBlanc said.
Jay Nicholson’s voice broke as he shared his feelings from the day. "Fifty-four years as a gay man, here we are in Yarmouth and I am literally tearing up right now. I said to my brother I’m going to come down and check it out, see if there’s like a little car with a little flag," he said, stopping and palming both cheeks in amazement. "Look how far we’ve come.”
Yarmouth resident Steven Johnson said it was good to see so much community support for the event.
“This is great. What I’m really surprised at is I didn’t see anyone on the side of the road saying anything against. It. This is great that everybody is getting together, having a good time, showing everybody support,” he said. “I didn’t see any hate here at all. That’s wonderful.”
You can watch a Facebook Live broadcast of the parade in replay on our Yarmouth Vanguard Facebook page.