A pair of events are planned in White Rock, one week apart, to celebrate Pride Week.
This Friday (July 16), the White Rock Pride Society and the City of White Rock will host a two-part Pride-flag raising event, starting at 5 p.m. First, a flag will be raised at White Rock City Hall (15322 Buena Vista Ave.), and then, at the White Rock RCMP detachment (15299 Pacific Ave.).
Anyone interested is invited to join.
Society president Ernie Klassen, event MC, said “very interesting” guest speakers will make the event well-worth attending.
“One is a teenager who has come out… she’s going to be speaking about her experiences. And another one is a woman who has gone through a transition from male to female and is a local White Rock resident,” Klassen said Wednesday (July 14).
The teen, Klassen noted, calls South Surrey home.
Both guests have “very positive stories” about how they’ve been treated in White Rock, he added.
A surprise singer/performer has also been lined up.
Face masks are encouraged, but – noting recent easing of provincial COVID-19 restrictions – Klassen said the decision of whether to wear one is up to attendees. He noted Pride masks and flags will be available for purchase, with the proceeds to benefit charities supported by the society.
Klassen emphasized that Pride events are all about celebrating inclusivity, and next week’s event, the 2021 Pride Ride, is another example of that.
As with last year’s Pride Ride, police are welcome to join in White Rock’s festivities, he said.
“There are still a lot of Pride parades and events happening all over North America where they are not allowing the police to participate,” Klassen noted.
The Vancouver Pride Society last year announced that it would not allow police officers or prison guards to march in its 2020 Pride Parade, a decision that followed the Black Lives Matter movement that was moving throughout Canada, the U.S. and elsewhere following the death of George Floyd, who died while being restrained by police in Minneapolis.
Klassen at that time said his society would not take that stance and instead chose to work with police. That stance, he said Wednesday, prompted some to refuse to participate last year. But the choice of those individuals hasn’t swayed the society’s position.
“We are welcoming the police to participate with us, because reconciliation … can never happen if you don’t work together.”
As with the flag-raising event, anyone who would like to join in the parade is welcome – just decorate a vehicle and show up at the Centennial Arena parking lot (14600 North Bluff Rd.) at 6 p.m. on July 23. The procession is to begin at 6:30 p.m.
The route heads west along North Bluff to Bishop Road, south along Bishop to Marine Drive, and then east on Marine Drive to Stayte Road.
From there, it heads north to North Bluff, west to Martin Drive and then north along Martin to loop around Semiahmoo Shopping Centre. At 152 Street, the procession will turn south to Buena Vista Avenue, head west to Oxford and then south again to Marine.
“It sort of ends there, but some people are going to go all the way down to East Beach again,” Klassen said.
He said he hopes to see people lining the streets with Pride flags to show their support and cheer participants on.
Nothing official is planned for after the parade, but Klassen said participants will be encouraged to support Marine Drive merchants. The City of White Rock has committed to adding rainbow lighting to the pier from July 19-26, he added.
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