The crowd was loud and proud at Veterans Park as the town held its second annual Pride Festival.
The park was packed on June 24 as hundreds of people from or supporting the LBGTQIA+ community celebrated the day with live music, dancing, food, art and games.
Those performing at the event included the North Attleborough High School Band, the Attleboro School of Rock, the band Phenidate, and the drag queen duo of Lulu Levity and Shasha Stone. There were a variety of activities including a drag queen story time, a handprint paint mural, local food trucks and scavenger hunt for children.
North Attleborough resident Jasper Hustler said Pride meant everything to them. Hustler, who identifies as queer, said the festival represents acceptance in the community and, more importantly, themselves. They said the festival was a great first step in building a welcoming and safe community for those identifying as LGBTQIA+.
“Queer people have always existed in our community, me especially,” Hustler said. “I think this is a change for the better. This is a good thing, it shows that we are moving forward and that we are becoming a more accepting community.”
Shelby Tessier said she came to the festival as an ally to support her friends and her transgender cousin. Tessier said anyone can be an ally to the LGBTQIA+ community by being a friend and offering emotional support.
“It’s an issue me and my family care very deeply about,” Tessier said.”To be a great ally, you just need to be there for the people you care for and have a shoulder for them to lean on.”
The North Attleborough Pride Festival was first held in 2022. An estimated 500 people from both in and out of town attended the event that year. According to organizers, there were nearly 600 to 700 people who came to the festival this year.
Rep. Adam Scanlon (D-North Attleborough) said the rise in attendance at the Pride Festival was both astounding and inspiring for those who are part of the LGBTQIA+ community. Scanlon, who himself is gay, is one of 10 LGBTQIA+ lawmakers in the legislature.
“This is a celebration of so many in our community which is made up of so many diverse people from all walks of life,” Scanlon said. “Working on so many of the projects that are going on in town requires a whole contingent of people, and that means all people. All means all and we have so much work to do.”