CLAYTON — Last year, when Emilie Cardinaux raised a rainbow flag in front of her store here, it was one of the first to fly in the village. This year, the spirit reflected by that flag is spreading across the community with a River Pride celebration.
Clayton River Pride, from June 25 to 27, is part of LGBT Pride Month, an annual celebration to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall riots.
“The uprising at the Stonewall Inn in June, 1969, sparked a liberation movement — a call to action that continues to inspire us to live up to our nation’s promise of equality, liberty, and justice for all,” President Joseph R. Biden Jr. said in a June 1 proclamation signifying June as Pride Month, which has a goal of achieving equal justice and equal opportunity for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning Americans.
“I think we can say in general, the mission of River Pride is to celebrate diversity and equality overall, and specifically during Pride Month, the LBGT members of our community,” said Ms. Cardinaux, a member of the River Pride committee and owner of The Golden Cleat, 534 Riverside Drive. “But it’s also a way for us to make a statement that our little, tiny village here in the north country is a welcoming place for all people and that we’re very proud to be celebrating this as a community.”
River Pride events range from a flag raising ceremony to a boat parade and guest speakers.
“We’ve just been overwhelmed by the positive response in our community,” Ms. Cardinaux said. “We welcome people from all over to participate in the ceremony.”
River Pride kicks off from 8 to 11 p.m. June 25 at The Hops Spot, 507 Riverside Drive.
“It’s going to be great visibility to start off the event,” said River Pride committee member Alex Hazard. “At that time of year, the last weekend of June, there’s going to be lots of tourists who are there, maybe for Pride, and also who might just happen to be there for a summer weekend in Clayton, so it’s important for us to be seen by those folks as well.”
The featured guest at the kickoff is pianist John Khoury from Sid’s Gold Request Room in New York City. He’s also the author of “Go Sit on Your Own Stoop!”, a self-published collection of stories about growing up in Brooklyn in the 1970s.
River Pride’s flag raising ceremony is at 11 a.m. on June 26 at Frink Park. Guest speaker is scheduled to be Maggie Rizer Mehran, a 1996 graduate of Watertown High School. In February, she was inducted into the Watertown City School District’s Distinguished Alumni Hall of Achievement.
Ms. Rizer Mehran has had an extensive and highly successful modeling career, having appeared on the covers of major fashion magazines, and walked runways at countless shows for internationally renowned companies. She has remained active in supporting and increasing awareness of various charitable causes.
In a 2014 Vogue magazine article, Ms. Rizer Mehran wrote, “My parents divorced when my older sister and I were young, and my dad came out as gay.” Her father died of AIDS in 1992 at the age of 38.
“She’s a Vogue model, but more important than that, she’s a huge activist in the LGBT community,” Mr. Hazard said. “To have her there speaking in our village at the flag raising speaks volumes on the importance of the work that she does.”
He added, “She’ll speak about what it was like growing up in the north country with a gay parent, and what it’s like to continue with activism throughout her life and what it’s like raising young children to not only be allies, but to raise them with an open mind and that they can belong to any community as well.”
The boat parade will follow the flag-raising ceremony.
“The boats will gather outside of Frink Park on the shoreline and at the conclusion of the flag-raising ceremony, we’ll have a slow boat parade all along the shoreline, making a turnaround somewhere out close to French Bay and coming along the shoreline again and once we reach Frink Park, sort of near the Harbor Hotel, the boats will disperse,” Ms. Cardinaux said. “Everyone is welcome, and we’re encouraging everyone to decorate their boats with rainbow flags.”
River Pride could become an annual event.
“I hope it evolves,” Ms. Cardinaux said. “The format we’ve evolved with this year is sort of like a test run. But I would hope to see a continuation of the celebration of pride in an official capacity in our community from now on.”
In Watertown, 2021 Pride in Watertown kicks off at 5 p.m. Friday at the Paddock Club. The city will raise flags in front of City Hall at 9 a.m. Saturday to honor local Gay Pride and Juneteenth events.
After the flag raising, from noon to 3 p.m., Out in the Park events will take place at Thompson Park, ranging from a color-blast fun 5K run beginning at noon to food trucks and kids games. At 10 p.m., fireworks are scheduled at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds.
For further details on Pride in Watertown, go to its Facebook page titled Watertown NY Pride/Facebook.
— WHAT: Clayton River Pride
— WHEN: June 25, 26 and 27
— Friday, June 25: Live piano bar karaoke with John Khoury from Sid’s Gold Request Room in New York City, at The Hops Spot, 507 Riverside Drive, 8 to 11 p.m.
— Saturday, June 26: Flag raising ceremony with special guest speaker — Vogue model and activist Maggie Rizer Mehran followed by boat parade, Frink Park, 11 a.m. Family arts and crafts, face painting, story time at The Little Bookstore, 413 Riverside Drive, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
— Sunday, June 27: Brunch and pride show hosted by Amber Skyy, Di Prinzio’s Kitchen, 428 Riverside drive, 11 a.m. to noon and 1 to 2 p.m.