On Saturday, June 28th, Margaret W. Wong and Associates tabled at the 2014 Cleveland Pride Festival in Voinovich Park where we arrived at 7:30am to get set up for the festival which started at 11am and we didn't leave until the festival ended at 8pm. And what a successful event it was for all concerned!
Cleveland Pride Executive Vice President Rod L. Mundy estimated that the number of people gather in Voinovich Park was 28,000 and there were probably even more at the parade.
We would like to mention, at the is point, that Mr. Mundy went out of his way to help us register for this event and see that our accommodations were appropriate. The best way to describe Mr. Mundy would be to say that he is the kind of person that one sees at every event who is anywhere and everywhere at the same time trouble-shooting while he talks into his headset while always keeping his cool.
We were placed almost just around the corner from the beer tent which is a prominent place in terms of the foot traffic flow. Our neighboring tablers were Campit Resort Saugatuck Weekends, Plexus-the LGBT Chamber of Commerce, the Housing Research and Advocacy Center, Clearchoice Lasik Center, and (get ready) a store called "Ambiance" which could be be described as mainstream risque but to one's surprise it kept quite busy, to say the least, and we probably benefited from the overflow. Just a little down the pathway from us were tables for the Human Rights Campaign and Gay Games 9.
These tables surrounding us were indicative of the other 100 or so tables throughout the festival. The were non-profits including NAMI of Greater Cleveland, Hospice of the Western Reserve and Planned Parenthood of Greater Cleveland. There were governmental agencies including the FBI and Veterans Administration. There were religious entities including United Church of Christ, Dover Congregational Church of Christ, Trinity Cathedral, and the West Shore Unitarian Universalist Church. There were private businesses like The Travel Connection, Renewal by Andersen, and Gutter Helmet Systems.
The only unfortunate thing about the day for was that we missed the interfaith welcome, pride rally, and, most of all, the Pride Parade because we had to stay with the booth. We would have liked to say hello to Mr. George L. Forbes who was the Grand Marshall for today.
But we did get to say hello to several political leaders who stopped at our table including Mayor Frank Jackson, Ohio State Rep. Nickie Antonio, Cleveland City Council President Kevin Kelley and Cleveland City Councilman Joe Cimperman.
In addition to the elected officials, several friends also walked over to greet us including Ms. Donna Skurzak from the Cleveland Clinic Office of Diversity; Reverend Detra Evans of LGBT Ministries of Cleveland gave us a kiss; Nina Lariche who immigrated to the United States from England and we helped her obtain her green card; and Mr. Marty Sammon who is the son of Mr. Bill Sammon who helped Margaret W. Wong with her own immigration paperwork a long time ago.
So it was a long, exhausting day but a very fulfilling one; the only time that things grew tense was when the early morning wind blew our canopy/tent over so we had to find some bricks and tape them to the four legs of our canopy/tent to hold it down.
We asked several people what was the most important thing about today and by far the best answer was given by Mr. Rod L. Mundy who said that it was about "people not being afraid to live with integrity and be who they are."