White Rock Pride Week is returning July 15 – 23 this year – hosted by the White Rock Pride Society in collaboration with the city – and the message this year is one of even greater inclusivity, according to society president Ernie Klassen.
“Pride is not just about LGBTQ2+ issues,” he told Peace Arch News last week.
“Our ultimate goal is to eliminate any form of discrimination in our community. It’s really about full inclusiveness for every group.”
In that spirit, he said, White Rock RCMP will be prominent in both planning and participation in White Rock’s week-long celebration, which includes a society booth at the White Rock Farmers Market, a social event at White Rock Beach Brewing, a family day and a concluding dinner dance gala.
Following the traditional Pride flag raising at city hall at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, July 15, there will be a separate flag raising at the detachment headquarters on Pacific Avenue, Klassen said.
And the detachment will also be doing traffic control and participating in the third annual ‘Pride Ride’ procession of decorated vehicles along Marine Drive from West Beach to East Beach the same evening he added.
“The RCMP and detachment commander Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls have been very supportive of us,” Klassen said, while noting that some other cities’ pride organizers – reacting against historic discriminatory practices – have made a point of not inviting the RCMP to pride events.
“But White Rock Pride has always said that we’d like to work together,” Klassen said. “Our feeling is that, if reconciliation is to happen, it will be by working together, not alienating one another.”
He also noted that while the society’s board wasn’t sure it would repeat the Pride Ride this year, minds were made up by the suspension of this year’s Sea Festival torchlight parade, due to the uncertain transition into a post-COVID world that many of the usual festival parade entrants are undergoing.
“We actually received calls from both the RCMP and city hall to see if we were still going to do the Pride Ride this year,” Klassen said.
“It was really well-liked by residents. merchants and city hall – everybody loved it the last two years, through COVID, and it seems as though it’s going to become an annual event in White Rock, post-COVID. We’re pretty happy with that.”
Klassen said the event already grew way beyond expectations in its first two years.
“It doubled in size last year from the first year in 2020, and we’re hoping it will that it will double from that for the third year, which would mean upwards of 100 vehicles.”
Vehicles participating in the informal parade will meet at the Centennial Arena parking lot at 7 p.m. on July 15, he said.
“We’re hoping to be down to Marine Drive by 7:30 p.m., and starting at West Beach we’ll go all the way east to Stayte Road.”
Pride Week will continue as the society takes a booth at the White Rock Farmers Market at Miramar Plaza on Sunday, July 17, selling various Pride mementos including rainbow beach bags, soaps and flags from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“Proceeds will go to the society and Camp Alexandra/Alexandra House and this year’s charity, the Rainbow Foundation of Hope, a registered charity that works with refugees who have been tortured and imprisoned for their orientation,” Klassen said.
On Tuesday, July 19, the White Rock BIA will host a Pride social event at White Rock Beach Beer on Russell Avenue – details still to be confirmed – while Three Dogs Brewing at Miramar Plaza is putting out a challenge to all the businesses in White Rock to decorate their businesses with a Pride theme.
“So we’ll have rainbows all over White Rock,” Klassen said.
Other events during the week are still in the planning stages, he said, but the biggest two will be on the last day, Saturday, July 23.
A Pride Family Day will take place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. that day at Miramar Plaza, Klassen said.
“There’ll be all kinds of family-friendly entertainers, food trucks, a kids zone, vendors and auction items,” Klassen said. “There are still a few vendor spots available – so far 27 booth have been taken, and we’ll have up to 40.”
Grand Finale to Pride Week in White Rock will be the third Love Is Love dinner-dance gala, starting at 6 p.m. at the Curling Club facility in Centennial Park, featuring live entertainment including a drag show.
“We’re billing it as the ‘Mother of all Parties’,” Klassen said. “It’s going to be a really hot ticket – there were 250 tickets available originally, and half of them sold out in five days.
Remaining tickets ($75 each) are on sale currently at Klassen’s own business, Ashberry and Logan at 1231 Johnston Rd. (604-531-8188).