About a week ago, members of Little Apple Pride were gearing up for the organization’s 11th anniversary, which would have been celebrated on April 25.
Now the event is postponed indefinitely and members are in a holding pattern as they debate on possible future dates to safely hold the festival and parade.
Jonalu Johnstone, the parade’s coordinator and developmental minister at Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Manhattan, said once the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged the public to cancel or postpone events with 50 or more attendees, the decision was made for them.
Johnstone said Little Apple Pride is typically celebrated in April so university students can attend. However, the organization is now considering a June celebration as the earliest option, as well as considering a few other dates toward the end of August and September.
“We nearly had a professional entertainer for this April,” Dre’Vel Taylor, chairperson of Little Apple Pride, said. “We had the contract in hand and we were right about to sign it the week that everything started falling apart nationally.”
Jonathan Mertz, event coordinator at Flint Hills Discovery Center, said he was still in a bit of denial while attending the meeting that put their plans and hard work on hold.
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“The original meeting we had was to discuss our options if we were told to postpone,” Mertz said. “The conversation quickly turned into what we need to do for the future, as there was no option besides postponing the event.
“Pride is as much for the people who can’t come, but wish they could,” he said. “The people who walk by the park and they see what is going on and they want to stop, but they’re not in a place where they can. Just what it means to them to see that happening.”
Members of Little Apple Pride are finding ways to keep the community involved while also practicing social distancing, including Facebook Live events of mini online drag performances and drag story hour, as well as other ways to connect virtually.
“The kids love drag story time, and parents are home with their kids right now, so if they can get even an hour of alone time to focus on their work or take a breather, that’d be awesome,” Taylor said.
Johnstone said she wants to come roaring back after this cancellation, after all that the world is going through now.
“I want us to come back with floats in the parade, all the glitter and rainbows, and celebrate survival as well as pride,” she said.