Reported by Aimée Plink and Sierra Desai
The town of Rye and pRYEde hosted their third annual Pride month celebration at Rye Town Park on Saturday morning with more than 150 local residents enjoying a flag raising, parade and other Pride events in the park.
The day commenced as attendees were welcomed by two giant puppets and heard short speeches from local dignitaries. Town Supervisor Gary Zuckerman began the pride flag raising by speaking of the importance of celebrating pride in the Rye community.
“Today we celebrate inclusion, we celebrate the right of everybody to love anybody and to be loved by anybody,” said Zuckerman. “The Town of Rye, which encompasses Rye Brook, Port Chester, Rye Neck, as well the entire Sound Shore community, the city of Rye, and the county of Westchester embraces the concept of diversity, inclusion, and equity.”
Following Mr. Zuckerman, Pastor Jim O’Hanlan from St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Rye Brook read a prayer emphasizing the importance of creating a world of love and accepting all. Congressman Jamaal Bowman also briefly spoke: “Love is love. People are people. Love is Love. Let’s just keep it that simple. Treat people with love and respect and dignity and humanity and accept them for who they are and love them for who they are.”
Lastly, Catherine Parker spoke about The LOFT, a White Plains based non-profit that provides a range of services for the LGBTQ+ Community in Westchester County.
Amanda Timchak, one of the five co-founders of pRYEde, called upon children and students in the community to come up to the flagpole and help in the raising of the flag.
Next was a parade starting at the Barley Beach House at 9:45am. The parade moved down the boardwalk to the Westchester Children’s Museum on the Playland boardwalk. Attendees were given pride flags and streamers to wave in the air as they walked. The group stopped for photos underneath the rainbow arch before turning around to head back towards the Rye Town Park pavilions.
The parade stopped by the beach for the 2023 pRYEde mural unveiling. The collaborative mural was worked on for many weeks and designed by students in and around the Rye community. This is the third year that pRYEde has hosted the creation of the mural. Last year’s mural, “Change Makers,” is currently on display in Lyon Park in Port Chester for June to celebrate Pride Month and the mural from 2021 is installed in the Rye High School cafeteria.
Once returning to the pavilion, attendees were met with live music by Greenwich band, MOJO, along with acoustic music from Christina Picciano of Ossining’s “All My Friends” band and Artist in Residence at The LOFT. The Fair featured a range of local organizations offering crafts alongside community resource groups. Some of the 22 participating organizations include; pRYEde Community Group, Rye Youth Council, RyeACT, Rye YMCA, Friends of Rye Town Park, Rye Poetry Path, Rye Arts Center, Joint Libraries Tables (Rye Free Reading Room, Harrison Public Library, Port Chester-Rye Brook Public Library), Westchester Children’s Museum, The LOFT, PrideWorks, WJSC Center Lane, GLSEN Lower Hudson Valley, ArtsWestchester, M. Kim O’Connor and Associates and Florence Taylor, a face painter.
New York City based influencer, Desmond Napoles (@desmondisamazing on Instagram), read from their children’s book, “Be Amazing; A History of Pride.” Napoles wrote the book when they were 12 years old with the intention of teaching an “important lesson” to kids about the history of drag and the Pride movement. Despite being banned in several libraries, Desmond continues to educate and read the book for young audiences to spread their message.
Following the reading was a performance by Jonathan Riedel from “Jackson Crash,” a one person musical that is being shown on Friday June 16th in a collaboration with The LOFT.