Central Alberta Pride gears up for Pride Week

Just one of about 20 rafters and floaters taking part in the annual "Fruit Float" makes his way down the Red Deer River as part of past Central Alberta Pride Week festivities. The "Fruit Float" will kick things off during this year's Central Alberta Pride Week, which will be held Aug. 12-18. Ashli Barrett / Lacombe Globe

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All are invited to show their pride in a celebration of inclusion and diversity Aug. 12-18.

For a sixth consecutive year, the Central Alberta Pride Society (CAPS) will be hosting Central Alberta Pride Week, offering up events for everyone regardless of their age, gender or sexual orientation.

Serge Gingras, CAPS board chair, says it’s been interesting to watch the evolution of the event, including opening it up more to the community at large over the past few years.

“This is my third year with the society and the neat thing for me is to see the growth of it. People are more excited about it, we have more people coming to events,” he said.

“It’s a celebration and recognition of the diversity of our community so we’ve made an effort to make it an inclusive event. It’s not only for LGBTQ, it’s for the entire community.”

Prior to Pride Week, the society will paint two rainbow crosswalks at the intersection of Ross St. and Little Gaetz Ave. This year, a protective covering will be placed over top of the paint in attempt to save the sidewalks from vandalism experienced in previous years.

Pride week events, however, officially begin on Sunday, Aug. 12 with the annual “Fruit Float” – also known as Red Deer’s floating Pride Parade starting bright and early at 8 a.m.

The plan is to launch from Fort Normandeau, where fresh fruit will be provided, as well as free coffee provided by Tim Hortons. Live music will also be performed along the riverbank as the float begins.

The float will end at Bower Ponds, to catch the official Pride in the Park kick-off event at the main stage from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m.

Before then, however, the Gaetz Memorial United Church and Sunnybrook United Church will host a Sunday Service as part of Worship in the Park from 10 a.m. until 11 a.m.

After that, however, the party gets started.

A proclamation will start the event off right at 11 a.m., and at 11:30 a.m. live music, beer gardens and a vendor village, as well as bouncy castles and food trucks, will open to event patrons.

On Tuesday, Aug. 14, all are invited to attend “The Coming in Faith Monologues” at the Gaetz Memorial United Church  from 7 p .m. until 9 p.m. Showcasing the stories of how the performers’ spirituality and coming out connected and collided, the monologues promise to enlighten attendees. They were founded by Calgary faith leader and activist Pam Rocker in 2016.

For families, Pride Week will wrap up on Saturday, Aug. 18 with “Discover Pride” at Discovery Canyon from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. The event will entail an afternoon of tubing, crafts, reading and, of course, lunch.

The grand finale, however, of Pride Week will be the annual 18+ drag show and dance from 7 p.m. until midnight at the Sheraton Red Deer’s Special Events Centre.

Derrick Barry, a contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race, will headline the show. Local drag queens Sparkle Emotion, Kelli Eletrix, Ruby Harte, Visa DeKline, DD Fierce, and drag king Duke Carson will also be in attendance.

Tickets are required for the event and are $35 each or $50 for a meet and greet before the show, and while there’s room for about 800 people, Gingras says tickets are selling fast and he wouldn’t be surprised if they got close or reached 800 people. As such, those really wanting to go are advised to purchase their tickets online in advance at www.eventbrite.ca/e/drag-show-dance-2018-tickets-48134742310. Any remaining tickets will be available at the door.

Events overall are fewer than in past years – a result of CAPS having a new planning committee and learning the ins and outs of what they’re able to do – but there are some events happening outside of the CAPS event scope.

On Monday, Aug. 13, Red Deer-South MLA Barb Miller will host a community conversation entitled “Being your Authentic You,” discussing gender identity at the Golden Circle from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m.

There may still be more events added before the official start of Central Alberta Pride Week. For a full list of events, or for more information on the Central Alberta Pride Society, visit www.centralalbertapride.ca.