Pride spreads rainbows of joy across Gananoque

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Pride celebrations swept through the town of Gananoque from September 7-12, adding life and color wherever they went.

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“The event was the best organized pride event in the Thousand Islands,” said Councilor Dennis O’Connor, owner of the O’Connor Gallery. “Without the Board of Directors and the hard-working Pride Committee volunteers, this could not have happened. They were able to create the most diverse and inclusive event of its kind in our small town. The Tourism Advisory Committee and the Town of Gananoque were a big help in making it a success and all the attendees commented on how welcoming Gananoque was.

The committee of 1,000 Islands Pride Inc. decided to make it a week, from special daily Lunch ‘n’ Learn sessions with stimulating speakers covering a wide range of topics, to a full show featuring the coronation of the king and Queen of Thousand Islands Pride, there was something for everyone.

There was a small problem raising the Pride Flag at City Hall when the city flag got stuck, but Public Works pulled out their bucket truck to resolve the issue.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been so proud of raising the rainbow flag,” said O’Connor. “The Tourism Advisory Committee and the Town of Gananoque were invaluable in making this a success.

The week started with a meeting followed by a queer art exhibition at the O’Connor Gallery. Baptized Lambda Rising, painting, drawing, textiles and photography are in the spotlight in the exhibition which ends at the end of the month.

Afternoons and evenings included activities such as “QUEERaoke and Open Mic”, “Drag Queen Story Time”, Trivia Night and a “Design a Drag Contest” which led to the “Kings and Queens and In-Betweens” competition. and the coronation of the new King and Queen of Pride – Benjamin Dover and Tanya King (respectively).

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The last day included both the Pride Parade and the Main Festival at Joel Stone Heritage Park.

The parade passed through downtown, starting at Gananoque Middle and High School, moving west to Stone Street, then south to Joel Stone Park. Crowds cheered and waved banners of support along the way.

“I loved being honored as the Parade Marshal,” said O’Connor. “From the historic moment when the Pride Flag was first hoisted at City Hall to the historical re-enactment at the Gananoque Inn and Spa, it has been incredible. There were 22 participants for the parade which also had an amazing bagpipe group, our local police officers wearing rainbow bands on their chests and a host of queer participants.

Joel Stone Park hosted an outdoor market with 40 vendors selling everything from queer chakas to fortune tellers to fashion. Leading political candidates also had the opportunity to meet and greet their constituents, happily handing out campaign buttons and answering questions. The park’s main stage operated consistently throughout the afternoon, introducing the new King and Queen to their loyal subjects and providing an abundance of live entertainment from Josee Brault, FN Dancers, Spencer Scharf, Sweetleaf, Brock Young , Kara Aldrich, Flashback, Kingston Circus Arts, Leigh Bursey, Teagan McLaren and Good Company.

“Volunteers are the backbone of any community,” said O’Connor. “Our city and our queer community need Roger Dodier and Sam Crosby, both from outside our city. Their commitment to our community is unprecedented. We thank them for all their work. Their accomplishments with their exceptional volunteers have proven to be a great asset to the community.

The event was carefully designed to follow all COVID-19 protocols, including limiting the number of people allowed in indoor spaces, social distancing and masks.


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