The River of Pride’s History
You might not have known the time and energy that really went into giving The River of Pride life and all the upkeep of maintaining it or some of it’s difficulties. That’s ok, that’s the way it was supposed to be.
For most, you showed up to the parade and joined in to help carry it through the streets to the finish. The thing is you didn’t carry it, it carried you with Pride, it brought you in, it made you apart of the event, it gave you purpose, it helped make you a part of the celebration, it helped you be seen and heard, and gave you a way to show your Pride!
The River of Pride came to life for that very reason. To bring everyone that wanted to be a part of the celebration a chance to come together, to be proud no matter where they come from.
The founder of this flag used to work at a bar along time ago and help design the bar float for several parades. Every year when pride weekend would arrive people would ask if they could be on the float. The float being only for the staff and not large enough for more than that, it was hard turn them away and see the look of disappointment. Remembering the moment standing inside the bar door that Saturday morning looking out after two people asked that same question others had asked before. That’s when the idea of the flag happened. People wanted to be included even if they themselves didn’t have a group to march with. They were looking for a way to show their support and feel proud no matter who they where. For them it wasn’t about belonging to a group but to the community, our community. Now having been in the parade every year he worked at the bar he felt it wasn’t a very long parade to watch. So if the parade had a way of being longer and could include all those wanting to be apart of the celebration, then it was a win for everyone.
So he asked a several friends if next year would they help him made this idea of a flag thinking it was a long shot. But each friend he asked he received a yes from. Fast forward to 4 weeks before pride the next year was 2006 and they are sewing the first section on the pool table at Blackstones. It took a few days to turn six different colors of material into a 125’ rainbow flag. It was a lot of time and work but it was a vision brought to reality.
The name for the flag come when he saw it outside in the sunlight for the very first time. As the material of the flag moved with the breeze and the sunlight sorta danced across it just like the sun hitting the surface of a river the flags name came “The River of Pride”.
That year 2006 was the first time The River of Pride was in the parade. They didn’t know what to expect or if enough people would want to join in. That was a lot of flag and not many people holding it. The ones that did, had several feet of flag bunched together trying not to drag it or trip over it. Oh it was a bit of a mess just getting it on to Congress St, but after a block or two people just started jumping in and holding on. You know that moment when you realize something amazing just happened, this was it for him! Before they knew it the flag had all the support it needed and fully extended.
The next year 2007 they added 175’ feet bringing the full length to 300 feet. To connect the two sections we added a 22 foot zipper. Did you know zippers could be ordered in that long of a length? That year they ran out of time and he had to finish sewing the edging on part of one side alone in his apartment. “Let me tell you that wasn’t all that much fun. The edge of the flag is what you hold onto so it needed to be something sturdy so not to tare. Each line of stitching is stitched twice to help support the pulling and it needed to be sewn again after you fold the edge under the flag hold it in place. So imagine trying to sew over a 100’ feet of material a few times by yourself. Every four to five feet I had to move this huge mass of fabric over and over again. Just to start all over after that. It’s funny to think back on it now but at the time maybe not so much.” But that new section was finally finished and the flag was now 300’ feet long.
The third and final year 2008 the flag grew 600’ feet to the length of 900’ feet. When they added on this time they did it in three 200’ foot sections. Each of the sections making it easier to work with and move around.
Each year of the flags growth was based on how much he could afford. Being a bartender it took a lot of savings and planning to make that happen. Throughout the year in between expanding the flag he would order one thing at a time like the zippers, the edging material, fabric and sewing machines. They burned out several sewing machines, some were brand new but just couldn’t handle that amount of work.
In past years the flag has been utilized in many ways from sections of it being used as a room divider at fundraisers, used to represent water in an art piece, hung from a church steeple and around a church altar. Those being just a few.
From conception in 2006 till now no monetary donations have been asked for or accepted. Individuals have instead donated their time working on the flag creating new sections or repairs. They have helped at events gathering people to march and so many other aspects.
The River of Pride Flag stands for inclusivity and freedom to be our true selves. It’s a symbol of pride and was created to unite those who are a part of our community. We hope you all join in to celebrate together and support one another by lifting each other up.
Before reading this post, you probably didn’t know the story of how The River of Pride came to be, at what point it was realized or that moment it all came together or some of it’s difficulties. You may not have known how many people it took to make that vision a reality or the number of people it takes to maintain it.
That’s ok, you shouldn’t have had to hear about all this. The history of the flag isn’t about one person, it’s about a community coming together and supporting one and other. We are each a single drop of water forming a mighty river, stronger together!!