The second annual South Orange Maplewood LGBT Pride Festival is on Saturday, June 9 from Noon to 5pm at the Memorial Park Amphitheater (aka the hill by the train station) in Maplewood.
The festival celebrates our two unique and diverse communities that support and encourage full equality for everyone, and helps to educate and activate community members – both gay and straight – on issues of LGBT equality. Last year’s inaugural year drew several hundred people and this year’s greatly expanded event, newly sponsored by HK Community Fund, is expected to attract twice as many.
Why should you attend SOMA Pride Festival? Read this lovely and heartfelt blog post for several very good reasons. But beyond the chance to show your support for diversity and equality in our towns, there is one other very good reason: you will have a blast.
Between the food court featuring delicious eats from local restaurants, over 25 local vendors, live music from local bands, heaps of entertainment for the little ones and excellent raffle prizes -- a fantastic, family-friendly good time is practically guaranteed.
Two bands will rock the house: the folksy sounds of Tony Erstwhile & The Montys, and 70s pop to 90s rock from The Baby Please. Plus, see the amazing talents of the synchronized hula hoop group Step2gether.
A huge Rainbow Kids section sponsored in part by Sparkhouse of South Orange will feature a bounce house, face painting, arts and crafts (run by The Messy Artist), glitter tattoos, and a special art project run by Geralyn's Art Studio.
A host of organizations will be on hand, including Garden State Equality (also a Silver sponsor), HRC, Lambda Legal, ACLU, Pride Network/GLSEN, several houses of worship, theater and arts organizations and Columbia High School's Gay-Straight Alliance, whose student members will take turns manning a table.
Other local merchants have gotten in on the act. Words Bookstore created a Pride-themed window in honor of the occasion. Above Restaurant, a Silver sponsor, has concocted a fabulous new drink, the Rainbowtini, and an artfully done rainbow sushi roll – both of which are on the menu every Tuesday night in June.
“The most amazing thing is the way businesses across Maplewood and South Orange have gotten involved,” said C.J. Prince, one of the organizers. “The response from the community has been truly amazing.”
Prince co-founded SOMA Pride in 2011 with good friend and fellow mom Mary Alice Carr. “We started this venture because we wanted this town to have its own festival that showed support for all families,” said Carr. “We hope everyone, whether they are LGBT identified or straight allies, will be there. It's about all our families and this community that joins together in support of full equality for everyone.”
For more information, including a list of vendors, supportive businesses and activist and community groups, visit www.somapride.org.