People march at Pajaro Valley Pride 2019. The event returns Sunday at the YWCA in Watsonville. —file photo by Johanna Miller/The Pajaronian

WATSONVILLE—Pajaro Valley Pride (PVP) will hold its annual in-person march and celebration Sunday at the Watsonville YWCA, for the first time since 2019.

PVP, an organization aiming to support South Santa Cruz County’s LGBTQ+ community, had been holding Pride events in Watsonville since 2016. Throughout the pandemic, the group has worked to stay afloat, keeping in touch virtually and fundraising to bring back their flagship event. 

“It feels great,” said PVP president Danielle Elizalde. “After two years we were all yearning for our community to be able to gather and celebrate. When I was at Santa Cruz Pride [in June] … seeing how many showed up, I was surprised, because it’s been so long. But that shows you how much our community wants and needs these events.”

Things kick off Sunday at 11:30am, when PVP will lead the community on a Pride march from the YWCA onto Blackburn Street, down Riverside Drive and Lincoln Street before turning back onto East Beach. Grand Marshall Ezra Bowen, a local resident who has worked with Diversity Center Santa Cruz County to provide services to transgender youth, will lead the procession.

“Ezra is amazing,” Elizalde said. “He’s stepped up for us here in the Watsonville community, he’s emceed at a lot of events. He’s just a really great advocate.”

The following celebration will include drag performances, music, dance classes from Santa Cruz’s Motion Pacific Dance, a bounce house, food, art, informational booths, a pop-up health and vaccine clinics provided by the Monterey County Health Department, and more.

Elizalde highlighted this year’s entertainment, including the debut of local drag performer Gallo Gallina.

“We always want to support our local performers, provide that stage and space,” Elizalde said. “For a young local to come out and make their debut with us, that’s super cool.”

A new addition this year will be Artist’s Alley, a string of booths organized by Arte Del Corazón, which PVP has named its Organization of the Year. Founded by local artist Monica Galvan, Arte Del Corazón aims to support artists by organizing open-air art markets and other events. 

“Monica has continually provided space for Queer artists, to those who might not be able to or afford it,” Elizalde said. “She’s been all over the place doing some amazing things.” 

PVP is also honoring Santa Cruz Cider Company, The Slough Brewing Collective and Fruition Brewing as Businesses of the Year. All three businesses have hosted PVP for fundraising events, covering performer fees. Fruition created a special beer, Pride Snack, to raise funds for the group, and in July, Santa Cruz Cider launched its Imagine Peace cider, with all profits benefiting Outright Action International, a group supporting LGBTQ+ people in Ukraine. 

“Thanks to these businesses, we were able to put this event on,” Elizalde said. “They have all really stepped up providing spaces for Queer organizations to fundraise.”

While PVP’s annual event is a time to celebrate, Elizalde said it is also vital for the Queer community to remain visible. She says she hopes the event will inspire people to get involved.

“After Roe v. Wade was overturned, it opened up a floodgate,” she said. “It’s made it OK for politicians to do things like that. There’s now a real threat that they will try to roll back marriage equality, too. So it’s important now more than ever to show up to local Pride events and protests.”

Pajaro Valley Pride 2022 will be held Sunday, 11:30am-3pm at the Watsonville YWCA, 340 East Beach St. Parking is available at the Watsonville High School parking lot on Blackburn Street. For information, visit and follow the group on social media.

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Reporter Johanna Miller grew up in Watsonville, attending local public schools and Cabrillo College before transferring to Pacific University Oregon to study Literature. She covers arts and culture, business, nonprofits and agriculture.


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