People gather for a color throw at Stanwood and Camano’s first-ever Pride celebration on Saturday, June 4, 2022. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

People gather for a color throw at Stanwood and Camano’s first-ever Pride celebration on Saturday, June 4, 2022. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

‘We’ve at least come a little ways’: Snohomish to host first Pride event

A 10 a.m. parade on First Street will be followed by a pop-up market with 60 vendors, a downtown wine walk, queer cabaret and more.

SNOHOMISH — Hundreds are expected to gather Saturday in the streets of downtown Snohomish to celebrate the city’s first-ever official Pride event, in what organizers hope will usher in a more inclusive era for the city.

The 12-hour event agenda begins with a parade on First Street at 10 a.m. There will also be a pop-up market with about 60 artisan vendors, kids activity area, a downtown wine walk, rainbow bingo, queer cabaret, a brewery party and a karaoke after party.

In years past, locals have organized small-scale events: Mariposa Spa owner Soren Stone opened up his business to celebrate in 2022. (Ten people showed up.) The year before, some folks gathered for an unofficial car parade.

“It was just a flier, and it said, ‘Decorate your car and meet at the Snohomish Park and Ride,’ because we deserve to take up space,” said Mahllie Beck, 25, a born-and-raised Snohomish resident. “It was the end of Pride month, and we didn’t get to do a parade or anything.”

The group did take up space, but they did so isolated from each other. After a 2020 rally in Snohomish, when at least 100 armed vigilantes gathered in response to what was supposed to be a peaceful protest, celebrating Pride from inside cars felt safer.

Three years later, locals have rallied on a big scale to celebrate the city’s diversity.

Beck, a queer Black woman, said the idea for Snohomish Pride started this February in a small group chat with her, Stone and Radical Roots farmer James Berntson. Then more than 100 people offered to help.

“It’s really shocking how quickly change has happened,” Beck said. “I was painting Pride windows for businesses on First Street, and I’m like, ‘This feels so crazy’ — we’re about to have a whole Pride event! I was laughing and smiling and got goosebumps.”

Parade leader Rachel Escoto said she originally anticipated about 10 parade entries, but now more than 50 people and organizations have signed up to walk.

“For me the parade is such a huge deal — given our history with having Proud Boys show up to Black Lives Matter protests,” Stone said. “It feels like that’s been such a stain on our reputation and an awful part of our history as a town. So to have people show up, excited about marching in the parade … that really shows that we’ve at least come a little ways, being a more inclusive and welcoming place for people to visit and live.”

Stone, a queer transgender man, also emphasized safety and security is a priority. Eight guards from Landmark Security will work the parade, and the Snohomish Police Department will be on hand.

According to event organizers, there has been “some backlash from homophobic and trans-phobic community members and business owners who don’t want us to hold this event,” such as Moms for Liberty.

Snohomish County Council member Megan Dunn brought forward a resolution Wednesday “declaring the month of June Pride Month” and “affirming that LGBTQ rights are human rights.”

“Recently I was asked, ‘Do we still need to do this?’ and I think back to the hate crimes that were committed just this past year in Marysville, and also most recently in Edmonds at a local church,” Dunn said. “So unfortunately, it is still necessary and I’m proud to sponsor this resolution because it has meaning for me and many others in this county.”

The resolution barely passed with a 3-2 vote. The two Republicans on the council, Sam Low and Nate Nehring, both voted against it.

“It’s really stressful thinking that at any moment, my hormone therapy could be taken away from me, that I might be denied entry into the restroom, that my parental rights can be taken away — the list goes on,” Stone said. “A lot of people are like, ‘Oh, that’ll never happen,’ but we also never thought that Roe v. Wade would be overturned.”

Snohomish Pride organizers feel confident that the event will be a positive, safe, inclusive environment and that the county is changing: Snohomish Mayor Linda Redmon will be there to cut the ribbon at the event, and Lake Stevens is also hosting its first-ever Pride event this year on June 24.

If there’s one thing people should know before Saturday, Stone said: “It doesn’t matter what your background is or how you identify — you are welcome here.”

Kayla J. Dunn: 425-339-3449;; Twitter: @KaylaJ_Dunn.

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