“Out of the closet and into the streets!” was one of the many chants heard from nearly 200 marchers wearing, carrying and waving rainbow flags that took over the downtown Plattsburgh city sidewalks. The Adirondack North Country Gender Alliance kicked off its annual parade for the fourth year running last Saturday afternoon.
The festivities began at noon Oct. 6 in Trinity Park. Sponsors like Planned Parenthood, the ANCGA and the Elmore SPCA set up tables provided by the United Methodist Church under tents. Attendees walked from table to table gathering free merchandise, candy and made signs as Shawn Reid and his band played upbeat rock songs.
Speakers like Plattsburgh Mayor Colin Read and Town of Plattsburgh Representative Michael Cashman spoke to the importance of these events promoting inclusion and allyship. Assistant Director of Intergovernmental Affairs at the State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance for Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Office Ron Zacchi reminded the crowd of the roots of gay pride events by reciting the story of Stonewall riots, as this year will be the 50th anniversary. He then presented a letter of recognition from the Governor’s Office, as he had done in years prior.
Before the parade took to the sidewalks, the group moved to the steps of City Hall to take pictures of all the attendees together.
Camille Nerney came to the parade because she has two family members who are LGBT, one identifies as bisexual, the other as a trans woman. She said she wanted to show support for them and make the world right for them Nerney came with her husband sporting a sign that said “Free Mom Hugs” and was seen embracing most people she interacted with.
“Some LGBTQ people do not have family to support them and everyone needs a mom hug,” Nerney said.
She said that events like this are so important to the local area and that they should continue and she would be at every single one of them.
After the photo op, the parade headed around the corner turning left onto Margaret Street, followed by a right onto Broad Street then to Oak Street. The group took another right onto Court Street, which lead them back into Trinity Park where the afternoon’s entertainment was set up.
Sean Brace-McConnell, also known as the drag queen Mhisty Knights, lead the drag performances. Then the cast of Adirondack Regional Theater “Rocky Mountain Horror Show” stopped by to do the “Time Warp” for the audience.
One of the concerns this year was regarding the current political climate currently facing the country, Metzgar said she was not going to let this concern go unchecked. After being contacted by Syndicate North, a motorcycle club that charity fundraisers in the North Country, the group offered their services during the opening and reception in Trinity Park and along the parade route.
“This really was concern for me this year, in previous years it really wasn’t an issue,” Metzgar said. “But when we have seen the increase in violence around the nation, seeing LGBTQ people harassed, bullied, assaulted and murdered, the thought that it can’t happen here doesn’t work… I can’t take that risk anymore.”
Another new addition to the parade this year was the inclusion of the Elmore SPCA. The organization brought five adoptable dogs to the parade, and all but one was taken home whom’s adoption application was still pending.
The goal for the parade continues to be to get the parade into the streets instead of the sidewalks. The organization was unable to raise the required $6,000 to account for police and public works overtime, according to Metzgar. Despite this, Plattsburgh City Police Officer Brad Miller volunteered his time that day and followed alongside the parade to help them travel safely across the roads.
“If little towns like Potsdam can do it, why can’t Plattsburgh?” Metzgar said.