Pridegoers watch a drag performer at the 2023 Macomb County Pride Festival.

Pridegoers watch a drag performer at the 2023 Macomb County Pride Festival.

Photo by Deorbiter Photo, provided by Macomb County Pride

Macomb County Pride finds new home for fourth festival

By: Dean Vaglia | Mount Clemens-Clinton-Harrison Journal | Published June 13, 2024


MOUNT CLEMENS — Set to kick off its fourth annual festival, 2024 Macomb County Pride will be unlike anything that came before it.

Most notably, the event will take place in a slightly new venue this summer. Planned construction around Macomb Place and the Cherry Street Mall will move Macomb County Pride to North Main Street in Mount Clemens on Saturday, Aug. 17 from noon to 6 p.m.

“It will be right exactly where the courthouse is and will be going all the way down,” said Edward McClenney, Macomb County Pride festival committee chair. “Even though downtown has a lot of construction going on and revitalization, we’re going to utilize that long path on North Main Street.”

The move from Macomb Place to North Main Street was announced back at the March 18 Mount Clemens City Commission meeting with trustees voting 6-1 to approve the move. Working together to hold the event despite the expected construction (which has been delayed due to federal funding requiring additional steps before being released to the city) is the latest way the city and Macomb County Pride have worked together.

“It was a really easy process to work with them,” Mount Clemens Mayor Laura Kropp said. “They understand that the little bit of inconvenience that will be this year will be a great outcome for Mount Clemens in the future.”

According to McClenney, the city has worked with Macomb County Pride to provide generators, barricades and security via plainclothes Macomb County Sheriff’s Office deputies.

“From the previous years that I have been with the board, Macomb has been very supportive — especially Mount Clemens — of everything that we do,” McClenney said. “Even communities nearby like Sterling Heights, Warren and Eastpointe, all of those different local communities have been supportive in making sure that we have a phenomenal event.”

The temporary closure of the traditional event space in downtown Mount Clemens has affected other summer events in the city, but Kropp sees these shifts as new opportunities to assess how other places in the city can accommodate significant events.

“Mount Clemens is known for having a lot of events in the summer and what we’ve done is sought out other possible locations in downtown, which has actually presented itself as an opportunity,” Kropp said. “The businesses in those other locations — for example, Main Street, Walnut Street and the other parts of Macomb Place that aren’t under construction — all those businesses have felt great that we’re moving the events closer to their establishments and it’s given them an opportunity to benefit from the crowds going to those locations.”

Events like Macomb County Pride will test the viability of hosting events elsewhere in the city and maybe even see events permanently move into the new locations. As for Kropp, she plans to see the results of Macomb County Pride on North Main Street for herself.

“I love it,” Kropp said, confirming her plans to attend this year’s event. “It’s one of my favorite events.”

Along with the shift in location, McClenney made it clear that Pride attendees can expect the events and amenities known from prior years as well as plenty of new attractions.

“We can expect to have our drag queen show as usual, a drag queen story time and various performers of the LGBTQIA community,” McClenney said. “We’re going to have food trucks galore, so different food trucks and vendors are going to be there. We hope that people bring their kids and families out to celebrate … What I’m excited about this year is having a live DJ that is going to be there as an emcee and keeping everyone entertained the entire time that they’re there from live music to mixed music and all types of things.”

The fourth annual festival shows how much the Macomb County Pride organization has grown since it was formed.

“Macomb County Pride really started as sort of a casual conversation between a couple of folks who recognized that there wasn’t a place or time or a way for the LGBTQ community to come together in Macomb County,” said Phil Gilchrist, vice president and a founder of Macomb County Pride. “If you look at some other areas, they have establishments where people go like bookstores or coffee houses or gay bars or there’s other events like Pride festivals in other areas, and we didn’t really see any of that here in Macomb County.”

Casual conversions turned into an effort in 2019 to organize a 2020 festival, but Gilchrist said, “Some other things kind of got in the way of that.”

Efforts were redirected toward registering Macomb County Pride as a nonprofit, getting plans in place for a 2021 festival and getting involved around the county. Now four years and three festivals down the road, the volunteer-led organization has been able to support smaller events throughout the year and operates a Discord server.

Gilchrist has seen a high level of support from people, organizations and businesses throughout Macomb County in his time with Macomb County Pride. Anecdotally, he recounts how business owners have been eager to get inclusivity stickers that were being passed out at prior Prides in Mount Clemens.

“It was a really interesting thing because when you talk about getting support from a community, like a business community for example here, and you don’t always know who is going to be outwardly supportive like that,” Gilchrist said. “But to see so many of the downtown businesses really interested in participating — not just putting up a sticker but being present, putting up decorations, really welcoming people into their stores during the festival — it’s really an incredible thing to experience. So I think that there is a lot of support around here for the LGBTQ community, I just think that it’s not always very spoken or visible.”

Even still, Gilchrist knows there is always more work to be done. Eastpointe, which was the first community in the country to recognize Pride Month in 2019, failed to recognize it in 2023 due to a 2-2 city council deadlock; the council approved a recognition resolution on June 4 this year with a 4-1 vote. Other communities like Sterling Heights have adopted perpetual Pride Month resolutions.

Vendors, performers and potential sponsors interested in getting involved with Macomb County Pride’s upcoming festival can reach out to or visit