The first Pride marches took place in 1970; New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Chicago were the birthplace of what would become annual gatherings to celebrate LGBTQ awareness, unity, and support.

In Olympia, Capital City Pride has held an inclusive, celebratory parade and festival since 1991. “Pride serves as the annual watershed event for the LGBTQ and allied communities, offering entertainment, a vibrant array of food, craft and community booths, a family fun area and the ever-popular Pride Parade. Perhaps more important than the all the rainbows, music and festivities, Pride is a weekend long gathering of friends and family, bringing us all together to celebrate our fabulous community.”

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June 17-19 starts the second 25 years of Capital City Pride’s festive, welcoming, all-inclusive event. Photo courtesy: Capital City Pride.

Event co-chair Anna Schlecht remembers that before the Olympia festival, participants would have to drive to Seattle or even San Francisco to celebrate. But since its inception, Capital City Pride is now “one of the biggest summertime festivals” in our region and happily ready to kick-off “our second 25 years.”

This year’s Pride takes place in Heritage Park on June 18-19, with a kick-off night on Friday, June 17, almost one year to the day after the Supreme Court voted to legalize same-sex marriage. Friday’s activities include an all-ages street party at 8:00 p.m. and a dance party at Jakes beginning at 10:00 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday events include music, food, and entertainment from 11:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. with bounce houses, food trucks, vendors, and kid-friendly rated PG fun. Sunday at noon look for the parade to festively thread down Capital Way.

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Capital City Pride offers a weekend of music, food, vendors, dancing, and rated-PG fun culminating in the annual parade celebrating LGBTQ support. Photo credit: Capital City Pride.

Schlecht calls Capital City Pride “the biggest small-town Pride in the Pacific Northwest” for a reason. The ‘small’ represents a welcoming community festival in a world “rife with polarization” while the ‘big’ is a “tribute to how far the LGBTQ communities and supporters have come. We wanted to create a place where everyone feels welcome and all belong. And with more Pride, there’s more to love!”

Participating in the parade is open to all individuals. Businesses, political organizations, non-profits, faith communities, and schools need to sign up in advance. Vendor applications will be accepted through early June and questions should be directed to the Pride Team. Volunteers are needed throughout the weekend for a wide variety of assistance. Fill out the online application and you’ll receive follow-up information from the team.

For frequent updates about the festival weekend or local LGBTQ events and opportunities, follow Capital City Pride on Facebook. There you’ll find information, volunteer opportunities, event sponsors, and details on upcoming events.

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There’s still time to participate in the parade, volunteer, or host a booth. Contact www.CapitalCityPride.net for options. Photo credit: Capital City Pride.

Need ideas for your parade wardrobe? Check out the online gallery from last year’s Pride 25. If you get hungry prepping for the big day, Pride Burger Day is June 3 at Eastside Big Tom’s. A portion of each sale that day will support local Pride events and activities.

Author Max dePree encouraged that “we need to give each other the space to grow, to be ourselves, to exercise our diversity. We need to give each other space so that we may both give and receive such beautiful things as ideas, openness, dignity, joy, healing, and inclusion.” And while such truths are universal and important, so are parades and celebration.

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