NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – This year marks the 38th annual Northampton Pride parade and festival, where tens of thousands of people from all over New England come to celebrate diversity.
Rainbow flags and signs are decorating businesses and churches, and food trucks and stages are already set up at the three county fairgrounds.
Pride Flags have been raised, and businesses are flaunting their best and brightest rainbow apparel. Food is also featuring a Pride theme in Northampton this weekend.
“We’re doing a rainbow layer cake, rainbow cupcakes, rainbow bites, also our love bites,” said Michelle Eskin of Tart Baking Co. “We’re having all of our bakers come in which isn’t usually the case, just to get it all done.”
“We’re here to celebrate everyone, every walk of life, you know, all of our community members, all of the letters in the acronym that you could possibly ever imagine like we want to get all of those people together,” said Anna Hoff, the sponsorship coordinator for Northampton Pride.
Hoff told 22News they incorporated community feedback into this year’s celebration.
Over at the Three County Fairgrounds, preparations didn’t involve baked goods, but wedding bells.
“I pretty much knew early on that she was the one, there was no doubt about it,” said Shienne Daniels, a bride. “I knew… not even a month in.”
Adams residents Victoria Halsted and Shienne Daniels were set to get married last year, when Halsted’s mother passed away, putting their wedding plans on hold. Then came a contest at Northampton Pride in 2018: the chance to win a free wedding.
“We’ve never won anything in our lives, and we won this,” said Daniels.
Now Halsted and Daniels will ride a limousine through the pride parade, and be married by Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz in front of thousands.
“No one has the story that we’re going to have, so to do it in front of everyone, it’s a blessing it really truly is,” Daniels added.
“It’s a little surreal, just all of the love and positivity,” said Halsted. “Because it hasn’t always been that way.”
All of the details, from flowers to dresses are paid for, with help from the Hadley Farms Meeting House, which will host the reception. The brides said they have no problem saying “I do” on stage at the three-county fairgrounds, in front of a crowd that could reach 40,000.
Parade goers can expect four different workshops that will engage and inform the community on a variety of topics.
This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising in New York, which began the LGBTQ civil rights movement.
Hoff told 22News when she and her partner Rachel Slack moved to Northampton they were welcomed with open arms.
Seeing the rainbow arch of balloons coming down the street it immediately gave me a sense of community and a sense of home, and that we had made the right choice moving,” added Slack, the vendor coordinator for Northampton Pride.
And soon after, they both began volunteering for Northampton Pride, and are now two coordinators for the annual event.
You can also expect an expanded youth area on Saturday, including Drag Story Time.
The parade steps off from downtown Northampton, at 11 a.m.