CATSKILL — The COVID-19 pandemic will not chill the spirits of village residents who plan to celebrate gay pride in August.
Catskill’s Hope For Humanity Rainbow Pride Parade and festivities will take place Saturday with the parade stepping off at noon and proceeding down Main Street to Dutchman’s Landing. Other regional pride festivals such as OutHudson and the Capital Pride Parade in Albany were postponed in June due to the coronavirus.
Village residents Elliot Matos and Michele Delago presented the idea to the village board in June.
“We want everyone to feel welcome,” Matos said. “It’s an LGBTQ-plus event. The slogan is Hope for Humanity. We want everyone to have hope with these trying times we’re in, with COVID and the racial tensions.”
Village President Vincent Seeley commended Matos and Delage for their efforts.
“We will have village staff on hand to help ensure everything goes smoothly,” Seeley said. “We do want people outside, enjoying themselves and socializing this summer but there has to be a balance. Creating an environment where we risk having the state put more restrictions on businesses is a step in the wrong direction, but we do realize that open-air events are the way to go. We will make sure that every appropriate precaution is taken and this event is another success.”
Matos organized a Diversity March in the village in March and hopes the pride event will also shed light on the diversity in the community, he said.
“We thought it would be nice to get the community out together, keeping social distance and recognizing we are a diverse group of people,” Matos said. “And everyone loves rainbows, so why not?”
The lineup for the parade will begin at 11 a.m. on Water Street, with the step-off at noon. Floats and parade participants will proceed down Main Street to Dutchman’s Landing, where other activities, including face painting, bouncy houses and two live sets from The Deadbeats will carry on into the afternoon.
“Bring your lawn chairs and let’s spread out and have some safe fun,” according to the event page. “Please be prepared to wear a mask when in close proximity to others.”
The Avalon Lounge will hold an after-party from 5-10 p.m. with DJs Manny Ward and 3rd Culture Kid.
Church Street will be closed to traffic for the dance party.
“We are holding this with lots of room available so that everyone can make sure to spread out and practice responsible distancing,” according to the event page. “To be clear about it now: maintaining public health is a big deal to us, and if this turns into something that feels potentially irresponsible we are shutting it down. Please come ready to respect everyone’s space, and wear a mask anytime you’re within six feet of other people. Thanks for helping us make this a positive event for everyone.”
Greene County had 10 active coronavirus cases Monday, according to the Public Health Department. Columbia County had nine cases, according to the county’s health department.
Alcoholic beverages will not be permitted in the street but those 21 and up can visit a nearby eatery for a drink.
Seeley agreed that if social-distancing guidelines are not followed, Church Street will be opened back up, he said.
The parade may be the first of its kind for Catskill in about a decade, Village Trustee Natasha Law said.
“We had one about 10 years ago,” she said. “I believe Elliot and Michele will do a great job.”
The Youth Clubhouse of Columbia and Greene Counties hosted Greene County Pride at Dutchman’s Landing in June 2019.
In Columbia County, the 10th annual OutHudson Pride Festival was postponed and rescheduled to Sept. 25-27, with the parade to be held at 2 p.m. Sept. 26.
“OutHudson wants to ensure that our community feels safe and comfortable celebrating in a mass gathering,” according to the announcement. “The trajectory of the current pandemic is largely unknown, and it poses many challenges for planning.
“We need ample time to collaborate with our partners, organize events, and promote the festival. We believe that by September we will be able to celebrate pride in Hudson. Please help us spread the word. Stay safe, be well, and we’ll see you in September for our biggest celebration yet.”
No date has been announced yet for the 50th Anniversary Capital Pride Parade.