SURREY — A half-hour parade on June 26 is considered a “first step” by the head of Surrey Pride Society.
That Sunday morning, in a first for Surrey, members of the organization and supporters will walk from city hall to Holland Park, where a festival will take place for the rest of the afternoon.
The brief parade, which starts at 11:30 a.m. and ends at noon, will serve as a timely yet coincidental rallying point for those devastated by the killing of 49 people at a gay club in Orlando, Florida, said Shawn Ewing, third-year president of Surrey Pride Society.
“In light of the shootings, it’s also a way for people to show their support of the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) community,” Ewing (PICTURED) told the Now.
“A parade is something we have thought about doing, and it’s time,” she added. “We knew we needed to get a footprint set down and we are fortunate this year to receive a ($5,000)grant from the city council (to do) a parade.”
Also this week, a rainbow flag is flying – at half staff, along with others – in the plaza at city hall.
On Monday (June 13), city council moved to have the Pride flag flown there until June 26, and also light up the plaza in rainbow colours, in “solidarity, sympathy and support” of the LGBTQ community in the wake of Sunday’s massacre in Orlando.
Council deemed it a one-time exception to a city policy prohibiting flags in the plaza other than federal, provincial and city ones.
“Under these extraordinary and trying circumstances, Surrey stands with the people of Orlando and the rest of the civilized world in condemning this heinous act of hate and terror,” Mayor Linda Hepner stated.
Ewing hopes the Pride flag will fly again at city hall next June during the 2017 Pride event.
“It’s an important flag to the LGBTQ community,” she said.
Surrey’s inaugural Pride parade will be nothing like the very large one held annually in Vancouver, Ewing emphasized.
“There certainly (won’t be) vehicle traffic because it’s quite a short route,” she said. “I think we’d like to see it develop more into a creative parade, and we like it staying green and not having gas-powered vehicles involved.”
Last year, close to 6,000 people took in Surrey Pride festivities at Holland Park, Ewing said.
Related events posted at Surreypride.ca include a bowling night in South Surrey on June 23 and a dinner-dance at Vlassis Greek Taverna on June 24. More details can also be found on the group’s Facebook page.