Ferndale Pride to return for seventh year

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published May 17, 2017

 Erin Rosario, of St. Clair Shores, and her then-8-month-old son, Jayden, enjoy themselves during the 2016 Ferndale Pride festival.

Erin Rosario, of St. Clair Shores, and her then-8-month-old son, Jayden, enjoy themselves during the 2016 Ferndale Pride festival.

File photo by Donna Agusti

FERNDALE — More than 100 different vendors and thousands of attendees will pack downtown Ferndale for the seventh year of Ferndale Pride next month.

The seventh edition of Ferndale Pride will take place Saturday, June 3, covering a footprint of West Nine Mile Road between Woodward Avenue and Planavon Street, as well as portions of Allen Street and West Troy Street. The main event will run from 1 to 10 p.m.

Bands, DJs and other performers will converge in the downtown area for entertainment, and there will be 13 other affiliated events that people can attend before, during and after the day of the festival.

“It’s a wonderful demonstration of the rich diversity that we have in Ferndale, and our way to let people know that they are welcomed and valued here,” Mayor Dave Coulter said. “The other thing I like is that it wouldn’t be as big as it is if it didn’t include allies: people who are not a part of the LGBT community. It’s also a wonderful opportunity for both the LGBT community and the larger community to join together and celebrate together, and I’m proud that that happens in our downtown.”

This year’s event features two new additions that event chair Julia Music is happy to bring to Pride. The first is an expanded children’s area on Troy Street where kids can play games and, for the first 500 kids, be able to make magic wands. She said the expanded area is due to two businesses sponsoring the area, Blue Care Network of Michigan and the Candle Wick Shoppe.

The second addition that Music was proud to add was a designated sober area at the event after people inquired about adding a space.

“We never had a designated sober space before,” she said. “Technically, the entire event is sober, because all the alcohol is all inside, but we wanted to make an area so that people who are in our community, but also are sober, have a designated space so that they feel comfortable and they can find other people like them.”

The area includes games people can play, such as cornhole and giant Jenga, as well as tarot card readings.

“We have free nonalcoholic beverages,” she said. “So lots of fun things for adults to do over at the sober space.”

Last year’s event saw its footprint get larger because of the expected attendance and the many street vendors featured in the downtown area.

This year will see no increase in size, according to Music.

“The next step up is a complete configuration change,” she said. “It’s a little bit out of our control of just, like, what we want is also what the city can do legally with the police and fire.”

This year’s event will see the return of weddings at Pride, as several LGBT couples will be able to get married during the event for the second year in a row, this time at 2:30 p.m. June 3 at The Red Door, 22901 Woodward Ave. The weddings will be performed by Coulter, who said he loves doing weddings, especially now that they are legally recognized in the eyes of courts.

“It’s a real pleasure for me to be able to participate in such a joyous occasion in people’s lives,” he said. “That’s always one of my favorite things to do.”

Music also highlighted her excitement that artist Tunde Olaniran, somebody she’s wanted to perform at Pride for a while, will be on the main stage. There also will be a tribute to Gilbert Baker, the man who designed the rainbow flag, and one to the victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting last year, where 49 people were killed and 53 others were injured.

The shooting occurred eight days after last year’s Pride event. Coulter said he would agree that this year’s Pride does take on more weight in the wake of last year’s shooting.

“I do think it takes on increasing importance, because if there were people that took for granted the rights that LGBT people have now, or thought that the hatred no longer existed, Orlando was a tragic reminder that we still have a ways to go,” he said. “I think Orlando helped shake some people out of complacency about the fact that events like Pride are still important.”

Proceeds from Ferndale Pride will benefit Affirmations, the Ferndale Community Foundation, the Gender Identity Network, Matrix Human Services MAC Health and Transgender Michigan.

For a full list of the events that will take place before, during and after Ferndale Pride, visit www.ferndalepride.com.