KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) – The TriPride parade wrapped up around 11:30 a.m. Saturday morning, but the festival is still going on.
The parade began at 11 a.m. at the corner of Main and Island Street. The parade continued along Main Street to Clay Street.
News Channel 11’s Kristen Gallant was at the parade, covering the festivities.
The festival began immediately following the parade.
This year’s parade was sponsored by the Citi Operations Center in Gray.
TriPrideTN board member Chris Dagenhart said the partnership between the two organizations has been amazing and makes Citi a regional leader in inclusion and diversity.
More than 1,000 people took part in the second TriPride Parade in Downtown Kingsport followed by the festival.
There were several protestors at the event making sure that their voices were heard, but that didn’t stop the thousands of people who came out to celebrate inclusion equality, community, and self-empowerment.
For Jamie Weems, the TriPride Parade and Festival is a place for her to give support to those who need it.
“I’m here to give free mom hugs because I want everybody to feel loved. I have a son who went through a very hard time, and I don’t ever want to see anybody go through the same things he went through in his life growing up,” said Weems.
Though not all were there to celebrate, Bart Fowler said he came out to share his own message.
“It was a peaceful thing and I came down here to pray for the police officers, that no one got harmed or hurt today, and that it was just a good day for everybody. I’m not here to tell them anything else but I love them and I want them to know Jesus. Thank God that I do live in a country that I can come out here and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and they can express themselves also,” said Fowler.
Connor Klumb had her opinion about the protestors but said she was there to continue to share the message of love.
“I don’t understand why. People are people. Love is love is love. There’s no reason to hate people. Just to be here and be around all these people that love and support everybody is great. It’s fun. It’s exciting,” she said.
Sixteen-year-old Wyatt Miller was glad to be around like-minded people.
“I just want to show people that it’s okay to be gay, it’s okay to be anything and part of our community. I just like being around people who like, love each other. Love each other respect this community because we’re not leaving,” said Miller.
Tune in to News Channel 11 at 6:00 p.m. tonight for more on the parade and festival.