words Claude Christensen, photos by Claude and Noor Hindi
Akron has a lot of pride.
The 2017 Akron Pride March began at 11am on Saturday, August 26, a day with a clear blue sky and the occasional cotton puff of a cloud. Starting in the Highland Square parking lot behind the library, Chipotle and Wally Waffle, hundreds marched the mile and a half down West Market Street to Hardesty Park.
Led by Akron Police and “Flaggots,” the parade’s color guard, an incredible number of groups and organizations participated in the march.
Near the head of the procession, Akron’s Mayor Daniel Horrigan waved and shook hands with onlookers as he marched down West Market Street. Huntington bank employees whooped and hollered. PNC workers handed out rainbow wristbands promoting “pride in our communities.” Burning River and Akron Roller Derby members were skating along just past the Flaggots, and the Summit County Democrats waved behind a banner.
Goodyear’s people were running around handing out tire discounts while the University of Akron School of Social Work faculty and students loudly cheered as they marched. The LGBT Partnership was present, as was “Out Support.” Also in attendance was an eclectic range of religious organizations, ranging from the Firestone Christian Church to the Unitarian Universalist Church of Akron.
These are just a few of the organizations that participated in the 2017 Akron Pride March and festival at Hardesty Park. The festival, which began after the march, was a smashing success. Half state fair, half large outdoor concert, the festival was colorful and exuberant.
Vendors filled Hardesty Park in rows of tents, and the boulevards of grass in between were packed with thousands of festival goers. There was some stunning drag, plenty of smiles, and countless families decked out in rainbows and unicorns. All enjoyed the food and the music, while many proud children jumped in the bouncy house and climbed the rock wall.
Lasting until 8 in the evening, the festival rocked the park with music from artists like Martha Wash and DJ Robyn. Crowds came to listen, and plenty stayed to celebrate. West Market Street and the surrounding neighborhoods reverberated with the sound of Akron Pride 2017 until it was dusk.
I couldn’t be prouder to affirm that, yes, this is my city.
Claude Christensen runs. A lot. It ties his mind to his body, bringing a clarity to his life he can’t do without. Plus, spooking hikers (and sometimes bikers) from behind never gets old.