There have been many good years of celebration for East Central Minnesota Pride, having cast a rainbow in the region for 11 years now. But, 2015 is expected to be an especially good year for Pride… a “banner year”, no less!
It wasn’t always so rosy. There were years of controversial event promotions. For example, early on, an advertisement ran in local newspapers showing a rainbow boa on a familiar but non-trademarked voyageur statue in the Pine City park where the event is held. Even though the statue is not the City’s symbol (its official logo can be viewed here), it was viewed as iconic enough to upset some who protested across town with their own event, dubbed as “pro-family”–as if pride were anti-family.
More recently, a message of “Happy Pride!” scrolled on an electronic programmable message sign. The sign has advertised community events since it was erected 15 years ago on property owned by Pine City Public Schools. The pride message, though positive, made some in the school district wary. And, instead of the controversy being used as a learning opportunity for school administration and a teaching moment for students, the school opted to forgo community event messages altogether and subsequently refund the $10,000 used to purchase the sign granted by the Greater Pine Area Endowment (after all, the grant specified that the sign was to be used for school “and community events”). Today, only school messages are advertised.
These roadblocks were being put in the way of an event that, over the years, had garnered positive statewide, national and even worldwide attention. East Central Minnesota Pride was a Community Pride Showcase award winner at the Minnesota State Fair as a way that the Greater Pine City area is moving beyond economic challenges with creative and proactive community and economic development innovations.
Year after year, big acts have made their way to the East Central Pride stage as well: Chastity Brown, an internationally-recognized musician who straddles multiple genres, has twice been booked. Former Minnesota Viking Esera Tuaolo debuted his smash single “Stronger” on the East Central Minnesota Pride stage, twice as well. Others who have been to Pride include Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, Last Comic Standing’s Tommy Ryman, and WCCO-TV’s Edward Moody.
Through several generous donations by area residents and local businesses, a banner has been purchased from a Pine City sign company and hung across Pine City’s Main Street.
The banner is welcoming and sends a powerful message of inclusivity to ALL members of the community and passersby.
Moreover, some younger folks in the community are especially thankful the banner is there. Take this message sent to Pride last week for example:
To that kid: This is why we do what we do! We hope some day you’ll be able to safely attend. To everyone else, we hope to see you at pride this Sunday. Happy Pride! Let’s have another successful event and a banner year!