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Woolwich celebrates second annual Pride event

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The community of Woolwich Township and beyond donned vibrant colors as they came together in Elmira’s Gibson Park for the second annual Pride event.

It was an event all about celebrating diversity, inclusion, and love.

“The reason that we started with Pride last year was for the youth in this community,” said Angie Melchin, co-chair of Woolwich Pride. “So we want to make sure that they know that they are welcome here, that they are safe, that we have a space that is safe for them.”

The event kicked off at 10 a.m. and featured a variety of activities and performances that highlighted the spirit of the LGBTQ2S+ community. Attendees enjoyed live music, food trucks, craft stalls, and interactive workshops aimed at promoting awareness and understanding of LGBTQ2S+ issues.

“We are growing and we can feel it. We can feel the support, just by sponsorship and seeing everyone has come out - the vendors, entertainment and by all the recognition and letters that we've got, it's been incredible,” Melchin said.

This year’s theme was Better Together.

“We wanted everyone to see this small town is doing a Pride and maybe think ‘why can't we in our small town?’ And if that is the impact that we have, I think we would really be happy with that,” said Shari DeCaire, co-chair of Woolwich Pride.

“It's absolutely great to be a part of an event that is young, that is invested in widening the community and invested in so many varied peoples and genders and just the love of the community,” said attendee Bobby Belfry.

Some of the event’s highlights were live performances from an array of different local artists and groups.

“It was amazing to see everyone out here enjoying themselves,” said Archer Smith, performer with the Rainbow Chorus of Waterloo-Wellington. “What I love about Pride is that it's just celebrating being themselves and I just feel so free.”

There were also educational booths set up by various advocacy groups offering resources and support for LGBTQ2S+ individuals and their allies.

“I think we definitely have come a long way,” Smith said. “Like I know my older sibling who is also trans, when they were going through the school system, there was a lot more barriers. When I did, which is only a three year difference, it was cool to see how much more accepting it was. I think there are lots more steps to take, more acceptance all around the world. And I'm happy that our little town is doing so well.”

Families enjoyed kid-friendly activities such as face painting, storytelling sessions, and a designated play area.

“The Woolwich I grew up in is much different than the one it is today,” Melchin said. “As I’m helping my kids grow up, I can already see the changes happening and it makes us proud.”

For Smith, the Woolwich Pride event not only provided a day of fun and festivity but also reinforced the town’s dedication to fostering a community where everyone is valued and accepted.

“No matter where you come from or how many steps it takes to get to your final identity, or if it keeps changing, you're safe and should be proud of who you are, wherever you are.”

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