The White Rock Pride Society will host its 1st annual Pride Ride tonight (July 24), in an effort to mark the end of Pride Week with a safe and socially distanced celebration.
President Ernie Klassen said it was planned a couple months ago, following cancellation of the group’s Love is Love gala fundraiser due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Expecting at least 30 vehicles to participate, Klassen said the ride event has an important component – it welcomes police.
“I thought that was more of a story than the Pride Ride itself… given that Vancouver Pride and Toronto Pride have alienated or disallowed the police to be part of their parade,” he said Wednesday (July 22).
The Vancouver Pride Society in June announced that it would not allow police officers or prison guards to march in its Pride Parade.
The decision followed the growing Black Lives Matter movement throughout Canada, the U.S. and elsewhere following the death of George Floyd, who died while being restrained by police in Minneapolis.
“We stand with Black communities who have taken to the streets to demand accountability from the police,” stated a post on the society’s website.
Klassen said the White Rock Pride Society is not taking the same stance.
“We are saying that we are going against what the Vancouver Pride Parade is doing and we do not want to alienate the police, we want to work together with them,” he said.
“We’re saying that people should be allowed to have differing opinions, but we want to be an inclusive organization of everyone – within reason, of course,” he added. “We’re not looking at groups that are… illegal.”
White Rock RCMP Const. Chantal Sears confirmed local Mounties were invited to attend, but she did not immediately know how many were planning to participate.
The Mounties “are pleased to have been asked,” Sears said in a July 22 statement to Peace Arch News.
”We believe in and promote inclusion throughout our community. Having a mutually positive relationship with the WR Pride society strengthens our city.”
Klassen said all those planning to participate in the ride are encouraged to decorate their vehicles, preferably with pride colours.
A post to the White Rock Pride Society Facebook page asks that participants “have your car decorated to scream #pride.”
The route is being mapped out by White Rock RCMP and will include Marine Drive and hopefully Johnston Road, he said.
There is no pre-registration. Those interested are asked to meet at Centennial Arena (14600 North Bluff Rd.) at 6:30 p.m. to add their car, truck or motorcycle to the convoy of decorated vehicles.