Ridgefield’s Pride in the Park ‘a resounding success’

Ridgefield’s annual Pride in the Park on June 26 was a resounding success, according to organizers from Ridgefield CT Pride. Smiles, rainbows and pride were in abundance to celebrate the local LGBTQ+ community.

The event grew out of Ridgefield Public Schools’ combined Gender and Sexuality Alliance clubs to give LGBTQ+ identifying individuals a day where they could celebrate and feel accepted. The students worked together to plan the festivities and many were volunteers at the event.

Ballard Park was filled with a plethora of family-friendly activities, including music, arts & crafts, field games, Kung-fu and Tai Chi lessons by SDSS Martial Arts and a yoga session courtesy of Grow Wellness. Adam Broderick Salon & Spa, a premier event sponsor, hosted a hair flair station, and information tables were available around the park.

“What a wonderful thing to see so many from our own community, and from other places, too, coming together and celebrating authenticity and truth,” state Rep. Aimee Berger-Girvalo said. “Most of us have never had to worry about being stigmatized or marginalized just for being ourselves, or showing the world exactly who we are. And to see so many of our neighbors embracing uniqueness, individuality and pride in the identities of others, and leading the conversation about LGBTQ+ rights with love, fills me with such hope.”

The celebration attracted people from all over the state, from Watertown to Wallingford and Waterford to West Hartford. When asked what brought them to Ridgefield, some noted that they preferred the more relaxed family-friendly nature of Ridgefield Pride. Several mentioned that they read about it in the paper or online. And a few said they happened to be a part of the LGBTQ+ family, were visiting from out of town and were thrilled to learn about the celebration.

Congregation Shir Shalom, which kicked off Pride Month with a Pride Shabbat service, was also a premier event sponsor.

“Congregation Shir Shalom was thrilled to sponsor Pride in the Park in support of our rainbow families with the hope that all people will feel welcome in Ridgefield and in our sacred community during Pride Month and every month,” Rabbi David Reiner said. “We celebrate the diversity in our congregation and community every day and look forward to a time when everyone feels welcome and loved.”

At 1 p.m., the crowd gathered around the rainbow-clad gazebo in the center of Ballard Park for opening remarks, which was followed by a pride march led by members of the GSA. Town dignitaries spoke first followed by Eva Trachtenberg, Ridgefield’s former Ms. President US who ran on an LGBTQ+ platform.

Trachtenberg addressed the fact that there has been a rise in anti-trans sentiment nationwide, including laws that allow discrimination against transgender people. Trachtenberg, however, took a hopeful tone.

“The fact is (a) majority of Americans support trans rights, including federal non-discrimination protections for sexual orientation and gender identity,” she said. “Our town got to witness this overwhelming support for the LGBTQ+ community firsthand when some customers called Deborah Ann’s Sweet Shoppe to share their displeasure with the store’s choice to offer Pride ice cream, and to say they would not be coming back.”

Deborah Ann’s donated 100 percent of the profits from its Pride ice cream sales to Ridgefield CT Pride, which they developed specifically to support the event. After the store received complaints about the offering, people from all over came to buy a scoop and support the cause.

Event organizers Alisa Trachtenberg and Maureen Tyra expressed their gratitude to all the businesses, organizations and individuals who supported Ridgefield CT Pride.

“We were thrilled to be able to gather again in person this year to celebrate,” Trachtenberg said.

“Seeing the joy on the faces of the children who typically feel unaccepted or marginalized was so incredibly overwhelming,” Tyra said. “This event was all about them and letting them know that they are loved, accepted, heard and seen.”

The mission of Ridgefield CT Pride is to support LGBTQ+ identifying individuals through education and promoting awareness, understanding and acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community. It also provides ongoing monthly support groups for LGBTQ+ youth group and their parents, guardians and family members. For information, visit ridgefieldctpride.com.