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‘Love, respect, compassion:’ Newmarket festival symbol of Pride values

June 17, 2024

Posted On: June 17, 2024 Posted By: Joshua Santos, Newmarket Today, Original Article

Thousands attended the successful two-day festival to show their support for York Pride and the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.

The thousands of people at last weekend’s York Pride Festival in Newmarket saw exactly what Pride is about: love, respect and compassion, an organizer says.

“I think all of the families that attended saw exactly what Pride was truly about, which is love, respect and compassion,” said Jacob Gal, director of operations for York Pride.

“I think those core family values were displayed through every single bit of entertainment, activities and resources there. We got to see what it is like for families who have kids that identify with the community feel supported by their family, friends and neighbours.”

The event was well attended over the two days, June 14 and 15, that featured Sparkling Night fashion shows and live performances, and Pride on Riverwalk live performances from more than 30 Ontario-based emerging queer artists and allies, and vendors, community organizations and interactive games.

The highlight of the event is always the Pride Parade on Main Street, with participants from across York Region and cheering spectators jam-packed along the sidewalks. Premier Doug Ford was one of the paraders, in what has become an annual appearance.  

“We couldn’t ask for better weather,” Gal added, acknowledging the high attendance. “I think that played a huge part in the amount of people who came out.”

“It’s about celebrating who you are, and hopefully, acceptance will come, but we all know that will not always be the case,” said Chris Muzzin, a longtime Newmarket resident who attended with her husband, Alfi Muzzin. “You have to do your best. Functions like this do it. Equality for all, no matter what your feelings are and what your gender is.”

The Muzzins enjoyed the entertainment part of the festival weekend and found it courageous for people to step on stage and sing their hearts out.

“It’s not easy to get up on stage and do your own thing in front of people, especially when there are a lot of people around, and there still is a stigma,” said Muzzin

Organizations on Riverwalk that showcased their support for York Pride and the 2SLGBTQIA+ community included York Region Public Health, St John Ambulance, Young Drivers, York Catholic Teachers, Your Support Services Network, Blue Door, York Regional Police, Neighbourhood Network, PFlag York Region, Canadian Mental Health Association York Region South Simcoe, and York Region Paramedic Services.

Businesses at the Riverwalk event include Home Depot, Triple J Jamaican Jerk, Costco Wholesale, TD Canada Trust, Revolution Now!, and Laos-C-Chef catering.

Children played games, such as ax throwing, escape rooms, and bouncy castles. Jacquie Fabro brought her children, Dylan, 10, and Alexa, 8.

“We went to the PFlag booth for stickers and bracelets and went to all the activities, the sports and arts,” said Fabro. “There’s a good variety, a lot of fun, and good for all ages, stages, and dogs, which is important.”

Fabro said she enjoyed how diverse and grand the event was, a good option for those who don’t want to go to Toronto for a big Pride event.

“I find this is nice for the stage of life that I am at,” said Fabro. “It is welcoming for children and small and manageable. It feels safe, and there is a great variety for the kids.”