As the Hamilton Pride festival was happening around him on Saturday afternoon, after a parade that started at Rotary Park and traveled to Marcum Park, Taylor Stone-Welch was asked what it meant to see the large crowd.
“I actually get kind of emotional when I think about hundreds of people, maybe 1,000 people right now, at Marcum Park for a Pride event in Hamilton,” said Stone-Welch, board chairman of Hamilton Pride. “It’s pretty amazing.”
The first in-person Hamilton Pride event included a series of events on Saturday in downtown Hamilton that supported and celebrated the LGBTQ community in the city. After the parade and festival started the day, a night concert was held at RiversEdge Amphitheater.
It was years in the making for an event that was planned to happen for the first time last year but was canceled as an in-person event because of COVID-19 precautions. Then there was a large response Saturday.
“Growing up in Hamilton and not always knowing how you might fit in, I think that makes the LGBTQ community feel very welcome, and very supported,” Stone-Welch said.
Attendee Amanda Souders said she grew up in Hamilton as someone who didn’t tell people she was gay and was then exposed to Pride events and communities after moving to Florida.
“To move back here 30 years later and to see this hometown has opened up their minds some is really, really amazing to me,” Souders said.
The number of people and businesses involved was a common topic of discussion on Saturday.
“I’m really shocked that ... there are this many in the community out, but I’m also really shocked at all the allies that have come out to support, and that includes the businesses, the vendors, the food trucks,” she said.
It was joyful day for those involved, especially those who were frustrated by the cancelation of last year’s event.
“Anybody who plans an event knows it’s a lot of work for a very long time, and then you have a couple weeks where you’re very, very stressed,” Stone-Welch said. “Your committee is working really hard. And then you have the day, and it finally is this payoff of seeing all the people who are so happy to be here.”