Berkley DDA to hold first big Pride event

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published June 22, 2022

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BERKLEY — The Berkley Downtown Development Authority will be holding its first big Pride event this weekend.

The first Berkley Pride Block Party will be held from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, June 26, on Robina Avenue north of 12 Mile Road. The block party is a part of the DDA’s Block Party series, where the downtown activates a space for the community to come together.

DDA Executive Director Mike McGuinness said the shortness of the event and the day it takes place, on a Sunday, was intentional, as organizers wanted the block party to take place when there is generally less foot traffic in the downtown in order to boost downtown foot traffic and support downtown businesses.

“It’s really inspired by the friendliness, the neighborhood emphasis and the block party celebrations that happen in Berkley neighborhoods and have for decades,” he said. “We’re taking that same vibe and applying it in our downtown.”

The event will feature a variety of food trucks; arts and crafts; a DJ; and family friendly games such as cornhole, giant bowling, giant Jenga and more. There also will be interactive art projects and activities for attendees of all ages to participate in, such as finger knitting outside the business “… have you any Wool?” located at 3455 Robina Ave.

Throughout the festivities, there will be four drag queens interacting with guests and joining in on the games and activities. The Berkley High School Gay Straight Alliance club will be in attendance as well to hand out pronoun buttons and share information about their advocacy at the middle school and high school level.

McGuinness said the plan is to evaluate this year’s event and let it grow organically.

“We’ll let it grow organically and see how the community responds and where the neighbors and residents would like to take it for future years,” he said.

McGuinness also noted that many downtown Berkley businesses will be expanding their hours and operating on that Sunday when they might not otherwise be open.

“It’s having a multiplier effect through the downtown, since there will be increased visitors that day — Berkley residents and neighbors from nearby communities,” he said. “So we’re maximizing it for the attendees’ benefit and for our downtown businesses’ benefit.”

The block party is sponsored by Be Well Medical Center, Berkley Realty Group and Woodward Corner Market. According to Be Well Medical Center Chief Nursing Officer Chris Petrat, the office is highly involved with the LGBTQ+ community, as more than 85% of its patients identify within the community.

Because Berkley hasn’t done anything like this event previously, Petrat stated they thought it was important for the representation of the community that they help and serve as a sponsor.

“I think a lot of people have been a little desensitized to a lot of the stigma and discrimination that the community still faces to this day,” he said. “It’s important just to create these safe spaces, not only to encourage the LGBTQ+ community that there is support for them, but also just kind of reinforce to people who might not be familiar with the community that there are no special interests. We’re honestly just here in support of one another.”

For more information about the event, visit www.downtown