Come for the march, stay for the fun and games, leave feeling valued and understood.
It’s a simple recipe that Ridgefield CT Pride organizers hope will propel the first annual Pride in the Park in Ballard Park from noon to 3 p.m. on Saturday, June 15.
“It’s the first time we’re doing this but we’re close to having a location booked for 2020,” said Alisa Trachtenberg, one of the founders of Ridgefield CT Pride along with Maureen Tyra. “We want this inclusive event to become a tradition here in Ridgefield.”
The picnic-style event will celebrate the town’s LGBTQ+ community — lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (or questioning) and others — with music, craft activities and a walk around the park at 12:30 p.m.
“We picked Ballard Park as we wanted to have it centrally located, easily accessible and highly visible. We want people to know we are here and that we are a part of the community,” said Trachtenberg, who recommends families bring food to eat in the park and blankets to sit on.
In addition to the food and face-painting, there will be speeches and education tables that will provide families with LGBTQ+ information and resources.
“Education is the key to understanding and acceptance,” Trachtenberg said.
“This event is much more than tolerance, it’s about understanding and acceptance,” she added. “These students want to be part of this community, and they want to feel valued, supported and welcomed.”
First Selectman Rudy Marconi is expected to attend and speak at the event.
“Ridgefield has always had pride and here is another way to demonstrate our pride and respect for all Ridgefield residents,” Marconi said.
Ridgefield CT Pride was created by the joint Gay-Straight Alliance clubs of the Ridgefield Public Schools — one at the high school and one at each of the town’s two middle schools.
The East Ridge club learned about the Bethel CT Pride Parade, and they wanted to provide the same experience for the Ridgefield community. The Scotts Ridge and Ridgefield High School clubs were equally inspired, according to Trachtenberg, and together the clubs worked to make this event happen.
“The schools are moving in a positive direction,” she said, noting that there was districtwide LBGQT training this school year and “there are now books in each of the nine schools’ libraries that are grade appropriate and teach about the gender spectrum.”
Even though it will be hosted by Ridgefield students, Pride in the Park is an event for all ages.
“It’s all about inclusion, and creating awareness and acceptance,” Trachtenberg said. “This is a multi-generational event that will be supported by allies in this community and in surrounding towns.”
Pride in the Park is a free, family-friendly event.
There will be stations for making buttons, paper hats, tie-dye shirts, temporary tattoos, bead bracelets, and cotton candy.
Games include corn hole, can jam (Frisbee golf), Hula-Hoops, and potato sack races
One of the planned craft activities will be making a painted rainbow using all of the attendees hand-prints.
“It’s a great, strong symbol of support,” Trachtenberg said.
“We want families to be themselves,” she added, “while raising awareness and showing unity.”
Residents can learn more on the event’s Facebook page by searching “Ridgefield Pride in the Park.”
“Our mission is to provide a celebration in support of our LGBTQ+ community,” Trachtenberg said. “The Ridgefield Pride in the Park is meant to be a day of fun, friendship, and community enjoying time together. In these times of social upheaval and division it is essential that we come together and support each other. It is important that we work to lift everyone up rather than pull them down. Pride in the Park provides just such an opportunity to do so, so please come and join us.”
For more information on Ridgefield CT Pride, visit ridgefieldctpride.com. Residents are also invited to follow the organization on Twitter and Instagram @PrideRidgefield.
“I don’t know how many people will turn out,” said Trachtenberg. “But we’re encouraging those who do to come earlier and bring a picnic and make signs at one of our craft tables. We want there to be a lot of signs when we march around the park.
“…We’re going to be marching, rain or shine.”