By MADDY VITALE
“We Belong Cape May County” will host Ocean City’s first ever OC Pride Fest celebrating the LGBTQ+ community on Saturday, June 10.
The event kicks off at 9 a.m. at 6th Street and the Boardwalk, where guest speaker and weather expert “Nor’Easter” Nick Pittman will preside over the opening ceremony and a Pride Walk will follow.
From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., there will be plenty of free family fun at the 6th Street Practice Field next to Ocean City High School.
Attendees can enjoy live music by local musicians. Just bring a chair or blanket and enjoy the show. Face painting, caricature drawings, recycled jewelry, tinsel hair accents, photography, balloon animals and more will keep everyone busy and entertained. Those wishing to participate in yoga should bring a mat or towel.
“We Belong Cape May County is absolutely thrilled to be organizing Ocean City’s first ever Pride Festival,” Christine Stanford, president of We Belong Cape May County, said Wednesday. “We are proud to share this day of celebration and acceptance of our beautiful differences.”
OC Pride Fest won’t be over at the end of the afternoon. After the festivities in Ocean City, adults are invited to head over to the Oar House Pub in Sea Isle City at 3 p.m. through the night. There will be specials and free entry to those wearing OC Pride Fest bracelets.
We Belong Cape May County is a nonprofit organization made up of parents, students, educators and others who are a part of and support the LGBTQ+ community.
Stanford, of Upper Township, whose daughter, Maeve, is a senior at Ocean City High School, and her son, Liam, graduated in the Class of 2022, said OC Pride Fest was a true team effort that will join so many people and organizations for a very memorable event.
“Planning OC Pride Fest has been a team effort. There has been an overwhelming amount of support coming from our community in the form of sponsorships and volunteers,” she noted.
We Belong Cape May County plans diverse opportunities for the LGBTQIA+ community and their allies, while also providing a safe, supportive, and positive atmosphere where they can feel accepted and free to express themselves, according to its mission statement.
Stanford, an elementary school teacher in the area for 24 years, noted that the Ocean City community as well as surrounding towns such as Sea Isle City have been so supportive of the group and its mission.
“People have been reaching out from all parts of Atlantic and Cape May County to offer their help in any shape or form. We are in awe of the outpouring of love for our area LGBTQ+ youth community,” she emphasized.
She continued, “Many people have donated their time and talents to make this an unforgettable experience.”
Organizations that will be at OC Pride Fest include the New Jersey Division of Civil Rights, the Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office, Gables, ACQA (Atlantic County Queer Alliance), OCHS Prism Club, the Ocean City Theatre Company and Cape Assist.
We Belong volunteers and sponsors are making the event possible, Stanford said.
“All activities are free due to the generosity of our volunteers and sponsors,” she noted. “OC Pride Fest guests are welcome to show their appreciation by tipping our artists for their time and efforts.”
Sponsors include Oar House Pub, Bowfish Kids, Bungalow Bowls, Freda Real Estate, Upper Township Democrats, Ocean City Democratic Club, Gillian’s Wonderland Pier, Collective Vibes OC, Pender Strickland Law Firm, the DeLa Haynick Family, Univest Bank, Bee Mindful Space, Let’s Party Events and Vantage Point Counseling.