by Lorraine Payette, written June 12, 2014
(Gananoque, ON) Get your pride shined up and prepare for the hottest summer solstice around as Gananoque rolls out its best for the third annual Summer Solstice: Pride in the 1,000 Islands Festival.
“This festival is about celebrating diversity in one of the most naturally diverse regions in the world,” said Kathrine Christensen, executive director of the 1,000 Islands Accommodation Partners. “The flavour of the weekend is fun, meant to showcase the islands, water, theatre, merchants, and diversity in a welcoming community. We try to have (everyone) gather to celebrate summer solstice while having our visitors experience the zest for life that you can only find in the 1,000 Islands.”
If anyone has ever earned a red velvet, ermine trimmed robe and diamond sceptre resplendent with rainbow ribbons, it is the unforgettable, irrepressible Queen of the Thousand Islands, Babe Kelly.
“I was Crowned Miss Gay 1,000 Islands in June of 2012, by the Beautiful Kathrine Christensen and the Mayor of Gananoque …,” said Kelly. “Oh, and for the record, I have no intentions of EVER relinquishing my crown. This baby is MINE, all MINE!!!!”
The event will kick off at 7:30 p.m. on June 20 with Gananoque Boat Line’s (GBL) Rocky Horror Picture Show Cruise. All who attend are encouraged to dress up as their favourite characters from the cult classic and indulge in three hours of fantasy and fun while cruising the Thousand Islands.
“It’s a very fun, upbeat atmosphere – a great way to start the weekend,” said Kathy MacRae of the GBL.
The following morning brings the second annual 1,000 Islands Pride Flotilla. Starting at 10:30 a.m., fully decorated motorized boats of every shape and size come out and parade through the Admiralty Islands following a lead vessel from the GBL hosting various dignitaries and guests.
“People are encouraged to decorate boats, have music playing and show our pride in the area,” said Christensen. “If participants don’t have a boat, the lead boat is fully accessible. In addition, festival ambassador, Babe Kelly, will be on board to keep the entertainment going.”
“Who wouldn’t want to spend a weekend partying with the one and only MOI!” said Kelly. “The events planned for this year are (kickin’). I am so excited to get the party started next weekend. All my little GANIMALS better be out to support their GODDESS (oh, and Pride – lol)!!”
The evening will provide a choice of entertainments. On shore, the Thousand Islands Playhouse will be opening their new musical production, “She Loves Me”. The largest musical they’ve produced in years, this romantic comedy is similar in story line to “You’ve Got Mail” and “Little Shop Around the Corner”. For those who prefer the water, an adult-only drag cruise will take place from 7:00 – 9:30 p.m. This cruise will feature the talents of Bishop Soul doing his tribute to Michael Jackson, King of Pop, as well as the creative talents of one of Toronto’s top drag show divas and quality entertainers from Montreal. No drag cruise would be complete without Babe Kelly, Miss Pride 1,000 Islands, singing her own songs and performing for everyone on the boat.
The evening finishes with a Pride Gala Party to be held at the Firehall Theatre featuring a fantastic line up of entertainment including Brandon Dean, Phil V and Faye Slift.
Sunday is Rainbow Family Fun Day, hosted by PFLAG. It features live music and a staged reading from the Thousand Islands Playhouse’s Canadian play, “Bed and Breakfast”.
“Written by Mark Crawford, who is gaining notoriety as a playwright with both the Port Stanley Festival Theatre and the Blyth Festival premiering his work this summer, it stems from a heartfelt comedy about being out in a small town, skeletons in the closet, and finding a place to call home,” said Christensen.
Travel Gay Canada, the premiere LGBT tourism-based organization in Canada, is highly involved in this event.
“The festival goal all along was to be the top non-urban destination for World Pride 2014, being hosted in Toronto this summer,” said Christensen. “A huge part of that goal is our connection with Travel Gay Canada. To that end, 1,000 Islands Accommodations Partners collaborated with Travel Gay Canada to get the community assessed for its LGBT friendliness and recommendations on what could be improved. Gananoque welcomed the chance to get on the radar of the LGBT sector and held training sessions with tourism stakeholders to prepare.
“We have a diverse, kaleidoscope of visitors who come to enjoy our area,” said Christensen. “We wanted to be ready at all levels to make their experience positive. Safety and community is really important when choosing a destination – this isn’t just about one weekend, it’s about the entire year.”
Summer Solstice: Pride in the 1,000 Islands is proudly sponsored by 1000 Islands Accommodation Partners members, including the Thousand Islands Playhouse, Gananoque Boat Line, Travelodge, Quality Inn & Suites, Comfort Inn and Suites Harbor District, Colonial Resort & Spa, Glen House Resort, Gananoque Inn and Spa, Holiday Inn Express Suites, 1000 Islands Helicopter Tours and the Ramada Provincial Inn.
“Everyone will just have to come and see this fabulous event for themselves,” said Kelly. “A lady should never give away her secrets! However I will say I have a great new song list put together for this year, and don’t forget this Queen sings live, baby!
“See you all next weekend, Kiddies!”
For more information on the festival, the host community, or to reserve accommodations for the event, please visit http://www.1000islandstourism.com .