For the first time since its inception, “Merced Pride” was held in the heart of downtown Merced with the support of the local LGBT community and their allies.
Kicking off last Friday, July 5, the 3-day event brought together Mercedians from every walk of life to celebrate love of every type.
The first day of event kicked off at the Merced Multicultural Arts Center, where each of the three floors of the building held a different type of fun event for participants. On the first floor, Mercedians were able to show off their dance moves to the sounds of DJ Ellie Sparkles as they danced alongside of local Drag performers.
At the top of the building on the third floor, a double feature of the movies Clueless and Mean Girls were being played for residents looking for a relaxing time. Back down on the second floor, residents of all ages were able to create alongside of Eli Sachse, who is one of the featured artists of the “Identity” exhibit inside the main gallery, and a leader of a gender non-conforming peer-led support group. Those working alongside of Sachse were able to create artistic expressions and messages they wanted featured in a scheduled Pride March.
The march was held on Saturday along Main Street with flags and messages held by supporters. Afterwards, the main event got underway as live music from local musicians and food from local vendors were featured in front of Bob Hart Square.
Young residents were encouraged to take part in an expansive “Kids Zone” filled with activities and bounce houses. As the evening carried on, a drag show hosted by Katalina Zambrano took to the Canal and Main Street intersection.
Wrapping up the weekend of events was a special film screening of “Love, Simon” at the Merced Theatre. For those who were looking to keep the festivities going following the final event of the weekend, an informal gathering was held at Coffee Bandits, where residents were encouraged to continue the fun as they mingled with one another.