WATSONVILLE—Armed with a clipboard and a megaphone, Pajaro Valley Pride President Jorge Guillen called out to a colorfully-adorned group gathered in front of the Watsonville YWCA late Sunday morning.
“Are you ready, Watsonville?” he asked.
A cheer rang out in response as the fourth annual Pajaro Valley Pride March officially began.
Participants held up signs and began chanting as they marched down Blackburn Street, along Riverside Drive and back onto Lincoln Street, showing their support for the South County LGBT+ community. Grand Marshall Alejandra Santiago was front and center, waving a rainbow flag in one hand and a transgender pride flag in the other.
Pajaro Valley Pride’s annual celebration returned in a different capacity this year—with a brand new location and more activities. The Watsonville YWCA invited the non-profit to use its facility on East Beach Street, prompting the organization to move the event from downtown.
Following the march, attendees participated in several activities—including film screenings with the Watsonville Film Festival, live entertainment, workshops and more.
A colorful balloon archway welcomed attendees to Pajaro Valley Pride 2019, held at the Watsonville YWCA. — Johanna Miller/The Pajaronian
“I’m so proud to see what this organization has accomplished,” said volunteer Kevin Brinker.
Brinker, who has also worked at San Francisco Pride, said that PV Pride’s home-grown feel made it unique.
“SF Pride is great, and there is something to be said for larger companies being involved,” he said. “But events like this represent what Pride is really about. It shows how a small community can come together to make change.”
Booths from local businesses, organizations and other groups lined the driveway at the YWCA, including Diversity Center Santa Cruz County, Live Like Coco, Food, What?! and Monterey Bay Murals—with artist Paul DeWorken introducing a new rainbow design of his popular The Ville logo.
Watsonville artist Paul DeWorken shows off his newest rainbow The Ville shirts at Pajaro Valley Pride. — Johanna Miller/The Pajaronian
PV Pride’s 2019 theme, “Remembering 50 Years of Stonewall Trailblazers: Power to the Youth,” paid tribute to the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York City. The theme permeated the event, from the speeches made by local city leaders to the awarding of Pajaro Valley Pride’s youth scholarship.
“To have the opportunity to be immersed in this community has been amazing,” said Kinsha Em, volunteer with the Diversity Center Santa Cruz County. “As a black woman… I love being here and seeing so much diversity in one place. Seeing the scope of the event—for such a small community like this to bring in all these different people. It’s incredible.”