Hazel Park Pride Celebration returns to Green Acres Park

Aug. 13 event will support LGBTQ causes

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison-Park News | Published August 5, 2023


HAZEL PARK — A festival aims to prove Hazel Park lives up to its motto as “The Friendly City.”

Now in its third year, the Hazel Park Pride Celebration is about diversity and inclusion, with a focus on the LGBTQ+ community. The festival will take place at Green Acres Park, 620 W. Woodward Heights Blvd., from 1-7:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 13.

Admission is free, although cash donations to support LGBTQ+ organizations are encouraged. During the day, attendees can look forward to more than 50 entertainers onstage. There will be barbecue food, candy and drinks, and a pavilion with face paintings and carnival games. There will also be a drag queen storytime, and a drag queen secondhand clothes shop. Pride-themed merchandise will also be available.

The event is spearheaded by Tim McKee, a local entrepreneur who runs the cafe Hazel Perk, which opened last year, as well as the nonprofit TimPat Inc, which he operates with his sister, Patricia.

“My sister and I spent our whole lives in the gay community doing charitable work. We do many things through our nonprofit,” McKee said.

Locally, TimPat donates to groups at Hazel Park High School, including the cheer squad for a field trip on female empowerment, and the LGBTQ+ support group, providing them food so that they can free up funds for other activities.

“(The support group) creates a safe space for kids to talk about their feelings and emotions, and whatever else may be going on in their lives,” McKee said.

TimPat also donates inclusive materials to the Hazel Park library, and sponsors local families in need during the holidays. And its work goes beyond Hazel Park, including crisis intervention across the tri-county area. In one case, TimPat was able to help a suicidal woman, connecting her with the mental health care services she needed.

“It turns out her medication wasn’t working,” McKee said. “Now she’s thriving and doing great.”

One of TimPat’s biggest undertakings was a food pantry, at the start of the COVID pandemic in early 2020. McKee was working at Olympus, a night club in Detroit, and used the space for the pantry while the club was shut down. TimPat delivered more than 300 trucks of food, all free, to people across southeast Michigan, as well as in Lansing and Jackson.

McKee said those efforts and the Pride Celebration are all possible thanks to the generosity of the many friends he’s made over the years. He said it’s also part of his recovery as a former alcoholic who has been sober now for 18 years.

“I myself was a hot mess for many years being a drunk, so it’s nice to have a second chance,” McKee said. “People in my life gave me a second chance, when they really had no reason. So when I meet people out there, and maybe their life is this way or that way, well, they don’t need any judgment from me. They just need a hand.”

He said that this spirit of kindness is what drives the Pride Celebration.

“We want to create a cocoon of safety, where you can talk to somebody about whatever the topic may be,” McKee said. “The way that I built this festival, I would recommend that you bring your family and friends and just stroll around. We bill it as metro Detroit’s feel-good festival, and there’s this general wave of kindness. No exclusion, no cliques. It has all the warmth of a family gathering. Kindness is the order of the day.”

Alissa Sullivan, a member of the Hazel Park City Council and an advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, said she is grateful for the work McKee does in the community.

“He has really moved into our city and made himself available and of service,” Sullivan said. “His business (Hazel Perk) is both a cafe and an art space, hosting events for every demographic you can imagine. It’s a super-inclusive space. And he brought this Pride festival to Hazel Park, in a way I don’t think anyone else could. His background really lends itself to the success of the event. And he makes sure to keep it family friendly, and centered on Hazel Park.”