by Katie Drake
Rainbows and acceptance lit up every square inch of Burke Park on a perfect, sunny Saturday, where hundreds of people came to Little Falls for our first ever PRIDE event.
PRIDE is about being true to yourself, accepting others for who they are, inclusion, and about creating diversity awareness. That’s exactly what the young adults of Rainbow Club, a program of Little Falls Community Outreach, wanted to celebrate when they decided to create this event.
Dylan Harrer and Maggie Rauch are members of the Rainbow Club. When I asked them what today meant to them Dylan said, “Today is a step forward for Herkimer County, the Mohawk Valley, and Little Falls. I wish we had something like this when I was 4 years old, just figuring myself out.”
“Today there are tons of kids here, we can show them there are people just like them, just like us. That they are not weird, that they are normal, and that we love them. That is what today is about, love and celebration.”
Maggie said, “Today for me means that I don’t have to hide anymore. Lots of times in school we are shunned for holding hands with our significant other in public. But today, I don’t have to do that and I can walk around with a rainbow PRIDE flag on my back. It’s nice to know we have a supportive community here.”
The Rainbow Club is a safe space for LGBTQIA+ students and allies within grades 8-12. The group comes together weekly to discuss issues and receive support. It is the only club of its kind in Herkimer County and draws youth from around the area.
Erynn Lowery is a Little Falls native and is now the LBGTQ+ Services Director for Community Outreach and facilitates the Rainbow Club. “Kindness, support, love, community, and compassion are so needed these days.”
In preparation for the event, Lowery went to all the businesses around town asking them to put up fliers for the event, and every single one of them said yes. “I left some businesses in tears because I was humbled by the kind words of encouragement and overwhelming support of PRIDE from our Little Falls business community.”
Lowery added, “Today’s PRIDE event is about acceptance, and showing these kids that they have value. Youth especially, but all of us, are fully formed human beings who deserve everything that is positive and good in life- the same as every other human being deserves.”
The PRIDE event kicked off with Pride Strut, a 5k race with over 120 participants who ran through the streets of Little Falls, out by the Italian Ovens, and back to Burke Park where there was music, food, and lots of people to greet them at the finish line.
Opening remarks were made at 11:15 by the Community Outreach team, Mayor Mark Blask, and a representative from Government Cuomo’s office with a proclamation.
Tamara Razzano, Executive Director of Community Outreach said “I love the fact that PRIDE over the years, has grown to be an inclusive event that honors and respects the differences in every single person. We recognize that oppression harms everyone. I am humbled and overwhelmed to see the community come out this way to support our first Little Falls PRIDE event.”
Mayor Mark Blask and his family attended the event. He said, “Little Falls has been, and always will be, a city of inclusion. There is room for everyone here. All the organizers have knocked this event out of the park. We are very thankful that they chose Little Falls to hold this inaugural PRIDE event.”
Blask added. “This is overwhelming in a great way. Look at how many people are in Burke Park today on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon. The City of Little Falls is proud to host so many people for PRIDE.”
The event continued on throughout the afternoon, with guest speakers who covered education topics suggested by the Rainbow Club, and a Q & A with the audience. Children and adults alike gathered around in chairs and on blankets under the canopy of trees for Drag Story Hour.
There were some stunning drag queen performances in the gazebo. Lots of people milled around enjoying the booths, good food, lawn games, and arts and crafts. The line for Little Falls Pride swag at the Community Outreach table stretched almost all the way to the gazebo.
It was a great day of overwhelming PRIDE in Little Falls and makes me proud to live in such an awesome, kind, and inclusive community.
Katie Drake moved to Little Falls in 2003 and fell in love with this city. She says she isn’t really a writer, but a storyteller.
The opportunity to highlight the great people of Little Falls, share her personal perspectives and some humor from time to time piqued her interest and here we are.
Just ask her, and she’ll tell you that after growing up in Millers Mills, population 25+ (according to the sign), Little Falls was just the right size. Katie is the oldest of her two brothers and five sisters.
In 2020 Katie and her best friend Chris began their greatest adventure yet in 2020, with the birth of their sweet and sassy son Nolan who makes them laugh every day.
In her free time, Katie loves to snowmobile, golf, hike, and travel.
If you have feedback on one of her articles or an idea for a story, please feel free to reach out to Katie at KatherineDrakeLF@gmail.com, she would love to hear from you.
If this article leaves you wanting more, or you are just bored out of your mind, feel free to check out other articles she has contributed by visiting Katie Drake Archives – My Little Falls.