Cancelling Pride festival 'not an option,' organizers say
'Having a festival of some sort, especially representation and visibility, matters all the more this year'
The annual Pride festival and parade will take place in some way, shape or form this summer, organizers say.
Cancelling is "not an option," said John Kimmel, chair of Pride P.E.I., especially this year given what is happening in the world with COVID-19 and the anti-racism movement.
"In light of the context not only with people looking for relevance in this post pandemic, this COVID-19 world and as well as the currently evolving situation around Black Lives Matter and in the intersectionality of race and gender situations and discrimination, I think that having a festival of some sort, especially representation and visibility, matters all the more this year and moving forward," he said.
Organizers are working on different scenarios depending on the public health restrictions at the time. Phase 4 of the province's ease-back plan, scheduled to begin June 26, will allow up to 50 people indoors at a time, but Kimmel hopes that number increases by the time Pride rolls around July 26.
We can't take away that Pride parade.— John Kimmel
"Our best bet right now is something like a hybrid event where we can have socially-distanced respectable opportunities for folks to come together and experience the traditional sort of togetherness that Pride provides while also sharing whether via broadcast if not radio or television as well as live streaming opportunities to the broader Island community."
The eight-day festival includes daily events such as a drive-in movie night in Brackley and, of course, the parade.
"We can't take away that Pride parade," he said.
"So if it's a car parade, if it's asking the police services to lock down a couple square blocks of downtown Charlottetown and maybe take over the streets for a couple of hours with a socially-distant dance party."
He said it could also be something done completely over the internet with a music stream and people sending in videos to take part.
'Respectful of guidelines'
Whatever the situation, Kimmel said organizers will take direction from the Chief Public Health Office.
"We're always looking forward to their best guidance and working with them to ensure that what we do is not only safe for our community and respectful of the guidelines that are out there, but allows people to be themselves and to really enjoy whatever we're putting on."
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With files from Angela Walker