(Members of Pajaro Valley Pride march in the Santa Cruz Pride parade in June. This Sunday is PV Pride’s third annual celebration in downtown Watsonville. File photo by Johanna Miller/Pajaronian)

WATSONVILLE — Pajaro Valley Pride will hold its third annual march and celebration Sunday in downtown Watsonville.

The free event, sponsored by the First Christian Church of Watsonville with support from various local organizations and businesses, started as a way to bring awareness and support to South County’s LGBT+ community.

“We want to continue the tradition of what Pride began as,” said PV Pride President Jorge Guillen. “While it’s great to have fun and celebrate, it’s also really important to remember what we still need to do.”

“Strength Through Unity,” this year’s theme, reflects that, Guillen said.

“It touches on the need to show solidarity,” he said, “to stand together and remember that diversity is a strength.”

This year’s celebration will once again kick off with a march starting at Watsonville Plaza, which will be led by Pajaro Valley Pride members and Grand Marshal Lisa Cisneros. Immediately following, attendees are welcomed to enjoy live entertainment and browse vendors and organizations’ booths. A number of speakers are also planned to appear on stage, which Guillen said is a way to keep the activism going throughout the afternoon.

“It isn’t our goal to just throw a party,” he said. “It’s about raising awareness, reaching out to our community and sharing our stories.”

Rob Watson, host of KSCO’s “Out in Santa Cruz” radio show, will be one such speaker. Representatives from Diversity Center Santa Cruz County and Monterey Peninsula Pride will also be present.

Guillen acknowledged Santa Cruz-based Faust Salon as a major supporter, helping the organization form its educational scholarship.

“We feel really lucky to have so much support already,” Guillen said. “Hopefully that will just keep growing.”

To kick off this year’s celebration, Pajaro Valley Pride will host its “Pink Party” at the Appleton Grill, 410 Rodriguez St., on Saturday at 8 p.m. Tickets for the 18-and-over party are $10 for pre-sale and $15 at the door.

Sunday’s free public event begins at 11 a.m. and runs to 4 p.m. For information, visit pajarovalleypride.org.

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