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Parade Organization Founder and CEO Taurean Bethea and Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno announce the plans for the third Annual Springfield Pride Parade at an April 4 news conference at Springfield City Hall.
Reminder Publishing photo by Bill Zito

SPRINGFIELD — The third annual Springfield Pride Parade will take to the campus of Springfield Technical Community College on June 1, the main event of a three-day celebration that will include festivities and community gatherings around the city.

Parade organization Founder and CEO Taurean Bethea announced the plans for the festivities at the April 4 City Hall news conference attended by parade partners, organizers and city officials.

Calling last year’s event, “a great success,” Bethea said he “can’t wait to see what we create this year.”
In 2022, the first year of the parade, Bethea said they had planned for about 500 attendees and were met by a crowd of 6,500. With the 2023 festivities even more successful, he hopes for 10,000 people or more to become part of the celebration.

Speaking to the organization’s efforts to create designated “Safe Spaces” for all people throughout local businesses and schools, Bethea said their work is much more than the parade.

“I tell people all the time the parade is not our work, it’s a celebration of our work,” he said.

“Safe Spaces” programming has more than 20 participants in downtown businesses and six schools in the city.

The Ruby Lee Scholarship program, given to LGBTQ+ students has doubled it’s $1,500 award to $3,000 after receiving a 100% match from White Lion Brewing Company.

Mayor Domenic Sarno praised the Pride Parade organization, Bethea as well as his mother, organization President Sylvia Bethea, calling the two, “the dynamic duo” as he recalled the first suggestions for the pride events.

“Without hesitation I said, ‘Why not?’” he said. “It’s just a wonderful, wonderful celebration and it celebrates the beautiful mosaic of the city of Springfield and beyond.”

Health and Human Services Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris acknowledged April’s designation as Public Health Month and reiterated the city’s HHS department’s support for the Pride organization and the youth initiative, which creates avenues of guidance, assistance and support.

“The youth initiative is very important because the youth in our city can now feel seen,” she said. “Public health is prevention and intervention and by allowing our youth who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer to be seen, we prevent suicide, mental health disorder, bullying, so much is prevented when our you are seen.”

The Pride Parade weekend begins the morning of Thursday, May 30, with the official raising of the Progress flag at Springfield City Hall, that same afternoon follows with a LGBTQ+ Youth Community Panel at Springfield Technical Community College.

On Friday, May 31, the Parisian Masquerade themed You Ball Fundraising Gala will take place at MGM Springfield’s Aria Ballroom. The parade kicks off Saturday, June 1, at STCC moving down State Street, culminating afterwards in the Pride Parade Block Party at Stearns Square.

New York Artist Chris Seabrooks, a native of Springfield, created the artwork for this year’s event posters and will also design and fashion sidewalk art to be unveiled ahead of the start of the event.

At the news conference, Bethea also revealed the headliner for the Pride Parade weekend via a video presentation. News Orleans bounce and hip-hop Artist Big Freedia will take the stage as entertainment for the Block Party.

Sponsors of the weekend long event include Springfield Technical Community College, Baystate Health, MassMutual and MGM Springfield.

Information on the parade and all the included events can be found at springfieldprideparade.org and springfield-ma.gov.

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