Surrey has hosted Pride festivities for the last 17 years — but never a parade. Until now.
On June 26, 2016, the Vancouver suburb will host its first-ever Pride parade.
Surrey Pride Society president Shawn Ewing says she got the go-ahead from the city on June 10.
“It’s the first time. It will become an annual fixture,” a spokesperson for the mayor confirms.
“It’s a good first step,” Oliver Lum continues. “It is going to happen.”
Lum says the parade will start at 11:30am.
“I’d be pleased if 40 people showed,” Ewing says. “I’d be happy if 200 showed up. If more showed up, I’d be blown away.”
The parade will start at Surrey City Hall plaza, then head down University Boulevard to Holland Park. There, the annual Pride festival will take place and, Ewing says, Mayor Linda Hepner will proclaim June 26 Pride Day.
“Pretty cool, huh?” Ewing chuckles.
Ewing says adding the parade to the annual Pride festivities is part of the celebration’s growth. She encourages everyone to attend this year’s historic parade.
Past Pride festivals have not been without problems in Surrey.
In 2014, Pride organizers were disappointed when city council refused to raise the rainbow flag. At the time, city councillors told Xtra their hands were tied by official flag protocols, which dictate that civic, provincial and federal flags be flown. With only three flagpoles outside the then-newly constructed city hall, there was no space for community flags, councillors said.
Last year, Holland Park was accidentally double-booked so Pride organizers were left scrambling to move their event a week forward. At the time, Ewing told Xtra that she felt less than supported by city staff.
Now she’s excited about this year’s significant step forward.
It’s Surrey’s latest step away from its school board’s notorious history of banning gay books in schools. In May, nearly 70 high school students and staff members from Princess Margaret Secondary participated in that school’s first Pride walk. And on June 20, Surrey will see its first queer prom for LGBT students in the district.