Up North Pride Returns With Events Through The Weekend

Up North Pride Week is underway in Traverse City, and Thursday night is their pool party.

The five day festival kicked off Wednesday night with a pride ride and sign-making party.

Up North Pride started in 2014.

For the first few years, Little Fleet in downtown Traverse City was the organization’s home base. Today it’s still a place where events are held for Up North Pride Week.

“There was a group of three individuals that came together and started a march of about 12 people that went down the street” says Nick Viox, president and programming chair for Up North Pride.

For the first year it was just a one day event. Now it’s a week long celebration.

“We have larger than life programing. We are taking over the Open Space, which has always been a dream of some of the founders too, to make sure that we’re celebrating there” says Viox.

The original march still happens, now with about 3,000 people taking to the streets.

“We believe that pride is not a spectator sport, that everybody should get involved. So we don’t have a parade where you watch it, we have a march where you’re involved in it” says Viox.

“I think it’s really important because so many folks don’t feel like they see themselves in our community” says Anna Dituri, secretary and advocacy chair for Up North Pride.

For the members of Up North Pride, it’s something they wish they had when they were younger.

“What we’re creating here with Up North Pride is allowing individuals, young, queer like I was in Manton, to see themselves and to see that being out as okay, being out is safe. And you can do it and you can find family here. That’s that’s all I can hope” says Viox.

“In my hometown, we do not have a Pride. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a rainbow flag in my hometown and I didn’t know there was anything other than straight until I was in high school” says Kendall, social media chair for Up North Pride.

Each year, there is a new memories made and new reasons to keep celebrating whatever makes people who they are.

“We had the Big Gay Brunch last year and we had a Judy Garland impersonator. And there was this young boy that was just twirling, in the park at the Open Space. And he said, Mom, this music just makes me want to dance. And that’s what we do. We create spaces where a little boy can feel like he wants to twirl” says Viox.

You can check out all the events happening through Sunday here.

Up North Pride will have merchandise for kids this year for the very first time.