Sunday’s Bedford Pride Celebration was a three-hour festival of color, crafts, and community, all infused with a message of inclusion.
Participants of all ages – especially families with young children – casually checked out stations around the Town Common, enveloped by the colors of the rainbow. The rainbow flag has been a symbol of LGBTQ pride for three decades.
“We have to show up – we have to show them that we love them,” explained Anne Caron of the four-year-old Parents Diversity Council, co-sponsor of the June Pride Month event. Stacy Chandler of the PDC Board, noting last June’s pride events sponsored by Girl Scout Troop 71644, added, “The PDC wanted to keep it going and open it up to other groups.”
Anchored by Bedford Embraces Diversity’s Celebrate Pride banner, the Common sparkled with rainbow-colored clothing and décor. On the west lawn of the First Parish, kids bounced a giant beach ball bigger than they were.
Several Select Board members and State Rep. Kenneth Gordon joined unofficial celebrities like C.J. Bennett’s little dog Peaches, dressed in a rainbow tutu. Two upcoming local student bands provided live music. The Goose Note Trio had the early shift, followed by Zach Shen and the Funky Bunch.
Midway through the afternoon, a freelance parade ambled along the main walkway, led for the second straight year by Chandler costumed as “Phoenix the non-bino-saurus.”
Visitors entering from the Elm Street corner of The Great Road first encountered a welcome table on the right. On the left, Mallory Fuller, Youth Services Coordinator with the town’s Youth and Family Services Department, co-sponsor of the day, offered an array of printed information on programs ranging from the food bank to the Council on Aging to mental health services.
There was a lot going on at that spot. Between bands, audio speakers featured some selections still popular after more than 40 years – “I’m Coming Out,” “Dancin’ Queen,” “We Are Family.” The product of one of those soap-bubble-generating machines excited a cadre of little kids.
Chalk messages on the diagonal walkway expressed the theme of the month. Past the first-aid station, the PDC table offered visitors an opportunity to write “what makes you special” on colorful Post-it Notes. The PDC’s message is “Bedford Public School Parents creating a culture of belonging among friends.”
The next booth was operated by owners of a new local therapy practice, Creative Coping, upstairs at 200 The Great Road. Adjacent was a popular feature returning from last year: “Make Your Own Lawn Sign,” with all of the raw materials.
Closer to the First Parish, Bedford Elementary Schools Together (BEST) PTO was a destination for handmade bracelets and necklaces. Contiguous tables from St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and First Parish offered New Orleans beads and Hawaiian leis.
The Bedford Free Public Library booth displayed a selection of “pride books,” along with a brochure enumerating part of the collection: picture books, middle grade, young adult, and adult.
Nearby, students from John Glenn Middle School’s SAGA (Sexuality and Gender Alliance) club offered advice on “how to be an ally.” One student volunteer explained that SAGA, an extracurricular activity since 2015, promotes education and awareness and is “a place where you can discuss issues.”
One of the more popular attractions was the Bedford Family Connection’s water beads tray, where young children gathered and were mesmerized by the sensory impact. Two young staffers from Middlesex Community College, Connor Nickerson and Zachary Pippos, had a shady spot near the musicians. The college libraries are featuring an online “pride story wall,” at https://libguides.middlesex.mass.edu/LGBT/pridestorywall.