Michael Watkins/Courier Johnny Bobdalton and Gary Segal embrace at the Pasadena Pride Festival.
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The San Gabriel Valley Pride organization held their 15th annual festival by inviting the community to experience a wide information forum along with food, games and musical performances at Central Park in the heart of Old Town Pasadena.

The festival consisted of a variety of exhibitors such as Planned Parenthood, Pasadena Humane Society, and Foothill AIDS Project that all provided the public with information and brochures and altogether a place for the community to come together. There were family games provided by Pasadena PFLAG, food trucks, and cultural music performances by Taiko drummers, mariachis, and other bands.

“I think the festival was really cool and they had a lot of different booths to explore. I bought a neat little mug from one of the LGBT booths and enjoyed the mariachis performance. It was a great way to spend my Saturday at the park supporting the LGBT community,” participant Raymond Herrera said.

SGV Pride is actually a reincarnation of Pasadena Pride which was the primary event that ran in the 90s at the steps of city hall. Due to some unfortunate events, Pasadena Pride ended in 1999. In 2001, Aaron Saenz, the current president of the organization, gathered with a couple of other board members and brought back the event as San Gabriel Valley Pride, which is what we know it as today.

Their first event was on September 14th, 2001 and because what happened 3 days prior, SGV Pride was told not to go through with having their event but Saenz thought it was still necessary to push forward and have the get-together even if it was just a picnic in the park and that’s what it ended up being, a picnic in the park.

In 2005, the group got their official nonprofit status and they began hosting actual festivals and including more and more exhibitors each year. The same year they added the classic car show, which is where they team up with another gay organization called Gay Autos of Yesteryear and display the classic cars they collect at Memorial Park to all the antique car lovers in the San Gabriel Valley. The cultural music is a new edition as well as the author’s forum. They also have an event called the Big Draw LA which is a community art project that became a new edition in 2012.

“We’ve always looked to add new components, new culture, that’s our tagline. We’re a different kind of pride because the urban pride festival has been going on since 1969 and so we just wanted to create an event that is different, free, open to the public and just offer a reflection of our community that people can see. There’s no walls, there’s no gate, there’s no price line where people have to pay to get in and that’s just been our motto: do something that’s different and that hasn’t been done before,” president Aaron Saenz said.

The San Gabriel Valley festival definitely took on it’s own idea of what they thought a pride festival should be and operated to the beat of their own drum. It was unique and different from the urban LA pride festival and appealed more to the LGBT couples and families of the community. It was an event where everyone was welcomed and it gave the community a sense of pride in their own city.

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