The Two-Spirit March, part of Soldotna Pride’s Pride in the Park, proceeds along Kalifornsky Beach Road in Soldotna, Alaska, on Saturday, June 22, 2024. (Photo by Michele Vasquez, provided by Soldotna Pride)

The Two-Spirit March, part of Soldotna Pride’s Pride in the Park, proceeds along Kalifornsky Beach Road in Soldotna, Alaska, on Saturday, June 22, 2024. (Photo by Michele Vasquez, provided by Soldotna Pride)

‘We just want to exist’

Soldotna Pride growing, evolving to create community on the Kenai Peninsula

Dozens marched through Soldotna and filled Soldotna Creek Park last weekend in an annual celebration of Pride Month put on by Soldotna Pride.

Joe Spady, one of the organizers with Soldotna Pride, said that this year’s event was “an incredible weekend of so much positivity,” almost overwhelming. That’s exactly how he likes it.

“The park was packed, as always,” he said. “It’s exciting to see that this group and organization is growing and growing. Every year it’s more exciting.”

This year’s event brought vendors, a variety show, costume contests and other festivities to the park grounds, with a central walkway that allowed the Two-Spirit March to proceed right through the park and directly to the stage.

Intuition Salon, Spady said, set up a station where they braided rainbows into people’s hair — drawing a line “all day long.”

The variety show and contests were a hit too, though Spady said he did hear people say there could have been more drag performances — “I love that that was the feedback I heard.”

The adults-only programming in the evening at 4 Royle Parkers Bar, similarly, drew a large crowd, and though the event was scheduled to conclude at midnight, the show kept running through 1 a.m.

“It was fun to see a true, classic drag show going on in Soldotna, and seeing our community rally around it,” Spady said. “Just packed, and screaming, and making it worth the trip for these drag queens.”

Pride in Soldotna, and Soldotna Pride, is growing and evolving, Spady said. The group of organizers is expanding, and the organization is planning for its future.

A key element of that, Spady said, is to make sure that Pride isn’t an annual event. Certainly, a big celebration of Pride Month will remain part of their programming, but Soldotna Pride is bigger than that.

“It’s not about that one weekend in the park,” he said. “It’s about the rest of the year, creating safe spaces for Queer people.”

That’s where events like the Soldotna Pride Winter Celebration, or collaborations with The Goods for trivia, come from. Spady said Soldotna Pride wants to keep finding spaces, keep creating “safe, interesting activities throughout the year,” and ultimately making those things casual and consistent.

“We don’t want to be front page news,” Spady said. “We just want to exist.”

Having those events in Soldotna is affirming to people, he said. If these events become “part of the fabric of this community,” people can see that there are safe options, that there is a future.

“That’s, I think, all I needed growing up,” he said. “Even if I wasn’t allowed to go to some of these events growing up, just knowing that I had something to live for and move forward with would have made a huge difference.”

Soldotna Pride, through Pride in the Park and other programming, creates those safe spaces, Spady said, where people can unmask and celebrate with members of their community — “whether they’re Queer or straight, they showed up and they wanted to be a part of this and they wanted to celebrate with me.”

“That was powerful.”

For more information, find “Soldotna Pride” on Facebook or @soldotnapride on Instagram.

Reach reporter Jake Dye at jacob.dye@peninsulaclarion.com.

The Two-Spirit March, part of Soldotna Pride’s Pride in the Park, proceeds along Kalifornsky Beach Road in Soldotna, Alaska, on Saturday, June 22, 2024. (Photo by Michele Vasquez, provided by Soldotna Pride)

The Two-Spirit March, part of Soldotna Pride’s Pride in the Park, proceeds along Kalifornsky Beach Road in Soldotna, Alaska, on Saturday, June 22, 2024. (Photo by Michele Vasquez, provided by Soldotna Pride)

The Two-Spirit March, part of Soldotna Pride’s Pride in the Park, proceeds along Kalifornsky Beach Road in Soldotna, Alaska, on Saturday, June 22, 2024. (Photo by Michele Vasquez, provided by Soldotna Pride)

The Two-Spirit March, part of Soldotna Pride’s Pride in the Park, proceeds along Kalifornsky Beach Road in Soldotna, Alaska, on Saturday, June 22, 2024. (Photo by Michele Vasquez, provided by Soldotna Pride)

The Two-Spirit March, part of Soldotna Pride’s Pride in the Park, proceeds along Kalifornsky Beach Road in Soldotna, Alaska, on Saturday, June 22, 2024. (Photo by Michele Vasquez, provided by Soldotna Pride)

The Two-Spirit March, part of Soldotna Pride’s Pride in the Park, proceeds along Kalifornsky Beach Road in Soldotna, Alaska, on Saturday, June 22, 2024. (Photo by Michele Vasquez, provided by Soldotna Pride)

A progress flag flies at Soldotna Creek Park in Soldotna, Alaska, during Soldotna Pride’s Pride in the Park on Saturday, June 22, 2024. (Photo by Michele Vasquez, provided by Soldotna Pride)

A progress flag flies at Soldotna Creek Park in Soldotna, Alaska, during Soldotna Pride’s Pride in the Park on Saturday, June 22, 2024. (Photo by Michele Vasquez, provided by Soldotna Pride)

Attendees decked out in rainbow hues celebrate Soldotna Pride’s Pride in the Park at Soldotna Creek Park in Soldotna, Alaska, on Saturday, June 22, 2024. (Photo by Michele Vasquez, provided by Soldotna Pride)

Attendees decked out in rainbow hues celebrate Soldotna Pride’s Pride in the Park at Soldotna Creek Park in Soldotna, Alaska, on Saturday, June 22, 2024. (Photo by Michele Vasquez, provided by Soldotna Pride)

The Two-Spirit March, part of Soldotna Pride’s Pride in the Park, proceeds into Soldotna Creek Park in Soldotna, Alaska, on Saturday, June 22, 2024. (Photo by Michele Vasquez, provided by Soldotna Pride)

The Two-Spirit March, part of Soldotna Pride’s Pride in the Park, proceeds into Soldotna Creek Park in Soldotna, Alaska, on Saturday, June 22, 2024. (Photo by Michele Vasquez, provided by Soldotna Pride)

The Two-Spirit March, part of Soldotna Pride’s Pride in the Park, proceeds along Kalifornsky Beach Road in Soldotna, Alaska, on Saturday, June 22, 2024. (Photo by Michele Vasquez, provided by Soldotna Pride)

The Two-Spirit March, part of Soldotna Pride’s Pride in the Park, proceeds along Kalifornsky Beach Road in Soldotna, Alaska, on Saturday, June 22, 2024. (Photo by Michele Vasquez, provided by Soldotna Pride)

The Two-Spirit March, part of Soldotna Pride’s Pride in the Park, proceeds along Kalifornsky Beach Road in Soldotna, Alaska, on Saturday, June 22, 2024. (Photo by Michele Vasquez, provided by Soldotna Pride)

The Two-Spirit March, part of Soldotna Pride’s Pride in the Park, proceeds along Kalifornsky Beach Road in Soldotna, Alaska, on Saturday, June 22, 2024. (Photo by Michele Vasquez, provided by Soldotna Pride)

Attendees decked out in rainbow hues celebrate Soldotna Pride’s Pride in the Park at Soldotna Creek Park in Soldotna, Alaska, on Saturday, June 22, 2024. (Photo by Michele Vasquez, provided by Soldotna Pride)

Attendees decked out in rainbow hues celebrate Soldotna Pride’s Pride in the Park at Soldotna Creek Park in Soldotna, Alaska, on Saturday, June 22, 2024. (Photo by Michele Vasquez, provided by Soldotna Pride)

The Two-Spirit March, part of Soldotna Pride’s Pride in the Park, proceeds along the Sterling Highway in Soldotna, Alaska, on Saturday, June 22, 2024. (Photo by Michele Vasquez, provided by Soldotna Pride)

The Two-Spirit March, part of Soldotna Pride’s Pride in the Park, proceeds along the Sterling Highway in Soldotna, Alaska, on Saturday, June 22, 2024. (Photo by Michele Vasquez, provided by Soldotna Pride)

A young girl waves a Pride flag at the Saturday, June 22<ins>, 2024,</ins> Pride in the Park celebration in Soldotna<ins>, Alaska</ins>. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)

A young girl waves a Pride flag at the Saturday, June 22, 2024, Pride in the Park celebration in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)

Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion
Participants in the costume contest line up on stage at the Pride in the Park celebration on Saturday, June 22, 2024, at Soldotna Creek Park in Soldotna, Alaska Creek Park.

Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion Participants in the costume contest line up on stage at the Pride in the Park celebration on Saturday, June 22, 2024, at Soldotna Creek Park in Soldotna, Alaska Creek Park.

Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion
One of several dogs decked out in Pride apparel waits for the start of the pet costume contest during the Pride in the Park celebration on Saturday, June 22, 2024, in Soldotna Creek Park, Soldotna, Alaska Creek Park.

Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion One of several dogs decked out in Pride apparel waits for the start of the pet costume contest during the Pride in the Park celebration on Saturday, June 22, 2024, in Soldotna Creek Park, Soldotna, Alaska Creek Park.

Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion
An attendee celebrates Pride in the Park on Saturday, June 22, 2024, in Soldotna Creek Park, Soldotna, Alaska.

Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion An attendee celebrates Pride in the Park on Saturday, June 22, 2024, in Soldotna Creek Park, Soldotna, Alaska.

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