Tyler Green marches into Nanaimo’s Maffeo Sutton Park twirling an LGBTQ rainbow love heart flag and a Canadian rainbow flag on June 12 for the Nanaimo Pride Society’s Pride Festival. (Mandy Moraes/News Bulletin)

Nanaimo shows off its colours at Pride celebration

Walk-and-roll event leads hundreds of people to festival at Maffeo Sutton Park on June 12

Nanaimo’s Maffeo Sutton Park saw an explosion of colour, smiles and laughter this weekend.

Just before noon on Sunday, June 12, hundreds of Pride Walk and Roll participants from nearly every walk of life donned their best Pride finery and marched the sidewalk along Front Street from Port Place Shopping Centre to the park.

As the city didn’t see a traditional Pride parade this year, the walk and roll event was organized by LGBTQ community members who wanted to honour the process of a march. Many motorists driving past honked to show their support and were met with an uproar of cheers and a sea of waving hands.

The Pride festival, as organized by the Nanaimo Pride Society, saw thousands of guests – both members of the LGBTQ community and allies.

Community groups and non-profit organizations, such as Reaching Out Assisting Refugees, set up tables and tents to raise awareness for their various causes.

Shortly after 1 p.m., Vancouver drag queen performer Conni Smudge took the mic at the main stage and revved up the gathering crowd for speeches and entertainment.

Mayor Leonard Krog followed Smudge and said the sheer number of those in attendance made him proud.

“Given the passage of COVID in the last couple of years, the numbers of you that are out today remind me why those of us who have the privilege of public office in this community… why we’re so proud to represent this community…” he said. “This is not just a tolerant community, this is not just an accepting community, this is a welcoming community. And you should all be proud to be a part of it.”

The following live entertainment included a dance by Nanaimo drag queen Gabriel Villasmil, who goes by Divine Intervention, and a show by Nanaimo’s The Femme Fatales, an all-female cover and dance band.

Tina Haywood, who was at the festival to help promote her roller derby team, the Harbour City Rollers, was excited for the return of Pride festivities.

“It’s just nice to have it again and just see everyone be all loving and smiling,” she said. “I’m glad to see the turnout – it’s what I expected and about the same number of people as last time.”

Hawyood said the team chose the festival to publicize its call for more players as the Rollers are all-inclusive and welcome people of all genders and orientations.

Sunday’s festival concluded Pride events either promoted or organized by the Nanaimo Pride Society.

READ MORE: City of Nanaimo holds Pride flag-raising ceremony at city hall


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