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Columbus Pride festival and parade celebrates in person for the first time in three years

 Grace New Covenant Church sets up to celebrate pride at Goodale Park
Tyler Thompson
Grace New Covenant Church sets up to celebrate pride at Goodale Park.

The Columbus Pride festival starts this weekend and it’s in-person for the first time in three years due to the pandemic.

People from Akron to Columbus are setting up tents throughout Goodale Park ahead of Friday night’s festival, which starts at 4:00 p.m. People are thrilled to be back in person to celebrate Pride. Melanie Hawkins owns Momma’s Rocks, a rocks and gems pride store in Akron.

“To be able to get back out in a space like this and enjoy the peace and love, that’s what we’re here for," Hawkins said.

Theresa Richards is with the Grace New Covenant Ministries.

"I think that it’s going to be emotional as more people start coming because we haven’t been able to be around each other. I’m looking forward to the sense of community today,” said Richards.

Krystal Jackowiak is setting up the tent for the Columbus Gay Men's Choir. Jackowiak also volunteers with Stonewall Columbus, a LGBTQIA+ organization. Stonewall is hosting the Columbus Pride festivities. Jackowiak said morale is high with people back together again.

"I know the chorus has been dying to get back into doing things in person, and being able to celebrate Pride in person is really great," Jackowiak said. "Our chorus will be marching tomorrow and then we'll be performing on the main shelter house stage."

For Brittney Beier and her son Cade, it's their first time participating in the festival. Beier owns Heritage Art Designs, a laser engraving company.

"I was a little bit nervous about this, just because of everything going on in the world," Beier said. "But now that I'm here, I feel pretty safe and secure. They told us Columbus PD is here, and Homeland Security."

 Brittney Beir and her son, Cade set up a tent in preparation for the Columbus Pride festival.
Tyler Thompson
Brittney Beier and her son, Cade.

The Pride march starts at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Broad and High Street. The festival picks back up in Goodale park at 11:00 a.m. More festivities are planned for Sunday and will continue through June.

Tyler Thompson was a reporter and on-air host for 89.7 NPR News. Thompson, originally from northeast Ohio, has spent the last three years working as a Morning Edition host and reporter at NPR member station KDLG Public Radio and reporter at the Bristol Bay Times Newspaper in Dillingham, Alaska.