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Virtual Pride deemed a success

After months of planning, North Bay Pride’s virtual weekend is being considered a success by organizers.

“For me, it exceeded expectations,” said Jason Maclennan, Communications Coordinator for North Bay Pride.

The Capitol Centre was home to live performances all weekend long which were live-streamed on social media for all to view.

Prior to the weekend, Maclennan said he was expecting a lot of attention to be on the festivities, but was still surprised with the amount of positive feedback the weekend received.

“The one thing that was really noticeable was that there was not one negative comment; there was not a troll – all just positive comments. We had comments from people in the Yukon and from Ottawa – you just can’t get better than that,” he said.

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North Bay Pride was originally slated for July with the COVID-19 pandemic cancelling the fourth edition of the parade.

Maclennan and a team of about 40 crew members and volunteers ran three nights worth of performances, all in a COVID-friendly manner.

“I’m humbled by the fact that it was just a group of people who came together and made it work,” he said. “Even though this was much more complicated than everything, I think we’ve set the bar pretty high for other people to follow us.”

Maclennan says that even the performers were impressed with the operation.

“They were pleasantly surprised. The environment was so upbeat – nobody had anything negative to say or do and everyone was encouraging each other and praising each other. To me, that’s what it’s about. Just being themselves and being cool,” he recalled.

With the pandemic cancelling all in-person Pride parades that would have been running in the summer, North Bay was one of the few to go to the lengths of having a three-day virtual festival. Maclennan admits that there were some hiccups during the weekend, but he believes that overall, the festival’s goal was met.

“The nicest comment we got was: ‘I thank you greatly because you made me feel not alone tonight.’ You never really realize how important things like Pride is or making sure Pride did something this year in a way that was good for everybody,” he noted.

North Bay Pride earned attention from some notable people, with politicians from across the country sending messages of support including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, Premier Doug Ford and provincial NDP Leader Andrea Horwath. Maclennan says having politicians involved in Pride is a step in the right direction.

“I think what we’re seeing now, especially with the pandemic that we were doing a lot of things wrong. And I think that’s when you start to realize how important things like Pride are becoming and I think that political leaders actually identify that and they recognize especially this year, the importance of it because of the lack of the ability to get together,” he explained.

It was the fourth year that North Bay Pride has run, and Maclennan believes that it gains more momentum every year.

“I think it helps us realize as more people learn what Pride means and that it’s still a grassroots and it’s still technically a protest. I think more people are starting to realize that it’s important and plays an important role in society for change, for equality and recognizing that people have the right to be who they are,” he finished. 

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