(GANANOQUE, ONTARIO) A few thousand visitors descended on Gananoque to help celebrate the 2nd Annual Summer Solstice Pride in the Thousand Islands from June 21-23. For three days, the LGBT community, their families and friends came into Gananoque to share their joy with everyone, and to provide them with a wide range of family entertainment.
Local officials came out to help kick off the event at a breakfast honouring the them, with an official ribbon cutting ceremony featuring Babe Kelly, Miss Thousand Islands; Kathrine Christensen of the Thousand Islands Accommodation Partners (TIAP); Heidi Connaroe, Deputy Mayor of the Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands (TLTI); Erika Demchuk, Mayor of Kingston; and Justin LaFontaine, representative of Travel Gay Canada.
“I’m embarrassed by how short a notice I gave to the dignitaries about this breakfast,” said Christensen. “But the support that we’ve received from our local partners as well as various organizations has been phenomenal.”
Among the dignitaries at the breakfast were Mayor Demchuk, Deputy Mayor Anne Warren of Gananoque, Deputy Mayor Connaroe, Fire Chief Gerry Bennett, Constable Lynsay Molleson of the Gananoque Police, and representatives of a number of different businesses.
Sponsors for the event included but were not limited to TIAP, the Gananoque Boat Line, Thousand Islands Playhouse, OLG, Glen House Resort, Gananoque Inn and Spa, Best Western Country Squire, Holiday Inn Express and Suites, Ramada Provincial Inn, Clarion Inn, Quality Inn and Suites, Comfort Inn and Colonial Resort and Spa. Special thanks were given to Celebrate Ontario and the Thousand Islands Community Development Corporation, both of whom have also gone out of their way to support this event for the past two years. The entire community stepped out to make this event the most welcoming and all inclusive festival weekend in the area.
“There is a real cross pollination of events in this Town,” said Christensen. “We are only 5,000 people, so the number of volunteers that are actually capable of doing all that is required of putting on all of these events is small but mighty. Folks like the Big Bass Challenge, Aboriginal Adventures, the Summer Splash Poker Run, all came out to help with this event as well.”
Stephen Hartley from PFLAG joined LaFontaine in helping push the agenda forward and making the event happen. Their insight and guidance were greatly appreciated in the compilation and execution of the weekend celebrations.
This year’s Pride featured entertainment geared at every member of the population. From the Drag Queen Show and Rocky Horror Cruise on the 21st, through the Pride Bike Ride, Rainbow Family Fun Day and free concerts and activities at Joel Stone Heritage Park featuring 70s tribute band Super Freak, tributes to Rhianna and Lady Gaga, and an amazing evening show by the incomparable Jully Black, there was no reason to sit home and mope. There was music everywhere, and Sugar Hoops brought their professional hula hoop skills into play while attendees were encouraged to visit vendors throughout the park.
The height of the festivities was the first annual flotilla, a Pride parade on water. All boats were invited to dress up in their finest rainbow decorations and be part of this grand sweep through the Islands, led by the Thousand Islander III.
A highly successful event, Pride in the Thousand Islands caught the torch from Kingston, who had just completed their own 17 day pride event. World Pride festivities will be coming to Canada in 2014, centering in Toronto, but spinning off to fill all of Ontario.
“WorldPride 2014 Toronto (WP14TO) is an international celebration incorporating activism, education, and the history and culture of global LGBTTIQQ2SA communities,” says Pride Toronto. “Highlighting Canada’s continued progress in human rights, WP14TO also celebrates the diversity and dynamism of Toronto, one of the world’s most progressive and livable cities.
“WP14TO is the first WorldPride celebration ever held in North America, and the 4th such festival in the world. WorldPride brings people together from around the world to honour our past, celebrate the present, and inspire a better future for LGBTTIQQ2SA communities everywhere.
“LGBTTIQQ2SA is an abbreviation used to represent a broad array of identities such as, but not limited to, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, transgender, intersex, queer, questioning, two-spirited, and allies.”