Originally published in Windsor News Today

Windsor-Essex Pride Fest kicks into high gear this weekend with markets in Lanspeary Park, a fundraising run, performances, and a parade.

The Windsor-Essex Pride Fest Parade is on Sunday morning. At 11 a.m., the parade starts at Market Square on Ottawa Street and Argyle Road and travels west to Lanspeary Park.

The parade is an all-ages mainstay of Pride festivities that started with the first Pride Fest in 1992.

Members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, their allies, friends, family and supporters are all welcome at the colourful event while raising awareness of the ongoing challenges.

“Our festival focuses on bringing all different segments and groups together to celebrate the 2SLGBTQIA+ community and its accomplishments while raising awareness of ongoing challenges, including discrimination, exclusion, harassment and assault,” said a statement from the parade’s organizers.

At 5 p.m. Friday at Lanspeary Park, there’s Friday Night Live with MC Mel Lucier featuring Alisabeth Von Presley, Motes & Oats, Gritty Angels, and others. The event is free, although attendees are encouraged to bring a donation.

Later in the evening, the Glitterball gets underway at Waters Edge Event Centre. Starting at 10 p.m., dance the night away with Sofonda Cox, D.J. Kevin Bailey, and D.J. XXXero.

The Queens of Pride take the stage at Lanspeary Park at 8 p.m., featuring Saltina Shaker and Chelazon Leroux.

Saturday’s activities start with the Run for Rocky in memory of Rocky Campana, a Windsor man who ended his life in 2012.

The run started in 2013 before taking a five-year hiatus in 2018. It returned last year to raise money for Gay-Straight Alliances in local high schools.

The 5 km run and 3 km walk starts at 10 a.m. at Dieppe Gardens, with check-in beginning at 8:45 a.m. There’s an after-party at 11:30 a.m. at Lanspeary Park.

For the kids, local Drag Artist D Ann Eh will host Drag Queen Story Time and Science Hour at noon in Lanspeary Park.

Both Saturday and Sunday mornings, festival goers and the public can browse what 65 vendors have for sale at the Saturday Marketplace and Sunday Marketplace starting at 11 a.m.

Windsor-Essex Pride Fest started with a small march of just 100 people in 1992 and continues as a non-profit organization that delivers social programs, activities and events for the 2SLGBTQIA+ community in the region.

“A lack of peer or social support, activities, gatherings or other resources in the community can lead to social isolation that often escalates into homelessness, depression, violence, and suicidal ideation,” said the organization.

Its mandate is to empower its members by connecting and being visible in the larger community.