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Berkshire Pride features first parade in downtown Pittsfield Saturday

group of six multi-racial teens at Berkshire Pride festival in 2019 behind a rainbow gradient. In the middle is the Berkshire Pride logo with "BERKSHIRE PRIDE" written in a bold white font with a rainbow gradient line under it.
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Saturday is Berkshire Pride in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. The annual public celebration of the LGBTQ+ community will feature its first ever parade in addition to the usual array of performances, activities, and vendors in The Common on First Street. Before festivities kick off at 11 a.m. Saturday, Director of Operations Cass Santos-China gave WAMC a preview.

SANTOS-CHINA: We do have our first ever Pride parade this year. It's going to be right along Eagle Street, which leads right into the park. So it starts up at North [Street], and it goes all the way down Eagle Street and the marchers will go directly into the park. We have a few vehicles that will be in the parade as well and they'll just be directed into the parking lot right there on First Street.

WAMC: When folks get to the park, what kind of activities, what kind of events are going to be taking place they are throughout the day?

Live entertainment starts at noon, and it's nonstop from 12 to four. We have, I think, about 20 different acts. A lot of drag queen performances. We have some live music, we have a great speaker and author of “Pray the Gay Away,” Erika Allison. She'll be speaking. We have some spoken word poems going on there. We have a ton of kids’ activities. We have a story time princess that's going to be doing stories every hour on the hour, meet and greets, pictures. We have like a quiet sensory area. We have Prado de Lana, they have their sheep farm, they're bringing some sheep in. So that's kind of part of the sensory area. Berkshire Dogs Unleashed and Berkshire Comfort Dogs, they'll be there with some poodles. A lot of vendors offering youth friendly activities as well. We have over 120 vendors this year. The farmers market is going to run alongside our festival, so we have them involved as well.

Now, is there a theme of sorts to this year celebration?

The theme this year is really just show your pride. It's kind of similar, kind of piggybacked off of what we did last year. And so we're just asking all of our local businesses and Berkshire friendly allies to come out to the festival, show your pride, show your colors and show your support for our LGBTQ+ community.

Now, is there anything else that makes this year’s installation different from years past?

Oh, yeah. The parade is number one. It's our first ever parade. It's the first time we put on anything like this. I definitely, I would say the youth activities. We've always advertised as family friendly, but we didn't expand as much into youth activities as we have this year. So we have so much more to offer for families- And including pets. It’s very pet friendly. You can bring your pets and they have some stuff going on there for them too.

Is there anything else people should know about this year’s installation of Berkshire Pride?

I mean, I guess the biggest thing is, it's free. It's a free family friendly event. There are vendors there of course, but to enjoy the show, to enjoy the day, everything is free. All of the youth activities are free. So that's the biggest thing. I think, if we could just highlight the parking situation- We only have that little parking lot on First Street and then we're asking anybody, if that lot is full, we have parking at McKay Street garage, there's parking on Summer Street. I mean, that's the big thing, right there, the parking.

Josh Landes has been WAMC's Berkshire Bureau Chief since February 2018, following stints at WBGO Newark and WFMU East Orange. A passionate advocate for Western Massachusetts, Landes was raised in Pittsfield and attended Hampshire College in Amherst, receiving his bachelor's in Ethnomusicology and Radio Production. His free time is spent with his cat Harry, experimental electronic music, and exploring the woods.
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