Each June, Sonoma County Pride gathers in locales like the Russian River Valley and downtown Santa Rosa for massive, celebratory festivals filled with parades, dance parties and other fun.
Last summer, the Covid-19 pandemic forced the Sonoma County Pride Board of Directors to cancel the 2020 Pride Festival & Parade. A year later, Sonoma County Pride returns for in-person celebrations with the help of Graton Resort & Casino, which is joining the festivities as Annual Title Sponsor of this year’s Pride celebrations and hosting this year’s re-imagined “Beyond the Rainbow Drive-Through Parade” on Saturday, June 5.
The parade event acknowledges and adapts to Covid-19 safety and social distancing regulations by creating a new drive-through experience in the Graton Resort & Casino’s parking lot. Attendees will drive along the parade route and experience the excitement and community of Pride through the stationary displays and celebrations that organizations and individual partipants will display along the route. A streaming soundtrack will also be available to guide and entertain parade-goers as they make their way through the route.
“Our goal is to have no more than 20 to 30 contingents made up of local LGBTQI organizations, allies, and Sonoma County Pride sponsors,” writes Sonoma COunty Pride in a statement. “Each group will occupy a designated area in the large outdoor lot at the south end of the property to stage their stationary ‘float’, with mindful limits on the number of people allowed on-premise. As in our traditional parade, Sonoma County Pride 2021 judges will judge and choose the winning parade displays for 2021, to be announced during one of our live streams.”
Sonoma County Pride President Christopher Kren-Mora is confident that this distanced adaptation to the Pride Festival will be a fun and memorable experience.
“Sonoma County Pride is proud and grateful to announce that Graton Resort & Casino has determined once again to partner with our organization in presenting events for 2021 so that SCP is able to continue to be a beacon of education, solidarity, equality and unity to the community,” writes Kren-Mora in a statement. “Graton Resort & Casino has been a supporter and major contributor to Sonoma County Pride and the LGBT community for since it opened in 2013.”
Graton Resort & Casino Chairman Greg Sarris led the move to offer the Resort’s support for Pride and the Sonoma LGBTQ community again this year.
“Graton Resort and Casino is honored to be the Annual Title Sponsor of 2021 Sonoma County Pride. Our core values are fostering compassion, inclusiveness and understanding of all citizens in our community,” writes Sarris in a statement. “I am always adamant in making sure that the LGBTQ community is not only represented but protected. As I have said before, the only thing we don’t tolerate here at the casino resort is intolerance.”
The drive-through parade is one of several “micro-events” that Sonoma County Pride will host throughout Sonoma County in June. The other planned events will offer activities for all ages and abilities.
The theme for this year’s monthlong Pride Festival, “Beyond the Rainbow: Surviving, Reviving, and Thriving,” takes inspiration from The Wizard of Oz to offer renewal and support to the LGBTQ community. “There’s no place like home being back together with our community,” writes Sonoma County Pride’s Secretary Cheryl Kabanuck in a statement. “Courage leads us here, knowledge is how we survive and heart is what keeps us together.”
Sonoma County Pride hosts “Beyond the Rainbow Drive-Through Parade” on Saturday, June 5, from 11am to 2pm. Free admission; suggested donation of $5 at the gate. To reserve your time block or have your own float or display in the parade visit SonomaCountyPride.org.