Hundreds attend Pride in the Park event

PALMERSTON – Nature didn’t produce rainbows on June 12 but the community certainly did, as Palmerston hosted Minto’s Pride in the Park – its first Pride picnic in two years.

“The rain held off, now we’re waiting for the rainbows to come out,” Pride committee member Brayden Scott joked as the picnic got underway.

A few hundred folks came out for the picnic in Palmerston’s CNR Park. Some brought their own food and many took advantage of the food truck on site.

There was a vendors’ market, games for kids, and a lot of social time as the worries of the pandemic seemed to fall away and people enjoyed being together again.

Mayor George Bridge drove the little tourist train that transported people through the park and told the crowd it was his favourite thing to do.

During speeches, Bridge said the planning committee had “done wonders” with the picnic.

“I’m so proud of this committee,” he said. “It makes the town inclusive. I hope everyone enjoys this day.”

Scott alluded to the difficulties he encountered as a gay man coming out and urged those in the 2SLGBTQIA+ community to bolster their courage and stand their ground.

“Nobody should be able to make you feel ashamed for who you are,” he said.

“Pride is my everyday life and being out and proud is important to me. But coming out is not easy and the work of changemakers matters deeply,” he continued. “It’s difficult work but there’s power in sharing experiences and working together.

“This work is hard. It will demand everything you have. But it’s worth it. And we hope you’ll join us. We need you.”

Newly elected Perth-Wellington MPP Matthew Rae was in the crowd. In an interview he said he had attended a Pride event in Stratford the previous weekend and a Pride flag raising event in North Perth.

“It’s great to see such a large crowd and support in the community,” he said. “It speaks volumes. Families – all kinds of families – truly belong here.”

Bridge led the crowd in a march through the grounds – he driving the train with community members following on foot.