Inaugural North Fork Pride Parade coming to Greenport this summer
The North Fork will be welcoming the area’s first Pride Parade this summer.
Southold’s Center for Advocacy, Support and Transformation will host a meeting on March 13 for those interested in participating in the event and preparations, according to LGBT Network chief executive officer Robert Vitelli.
“We want to be able to get people signed up to march, form different groups, we want to be able to have people be vendors,” Mr. Vitelli said. “We’re trying to build our volunteer corps for this event as well. There are a lot of different opportunities.”
The Hauppauge-based nonprofit was founded in 1993 and describes itself as “a home and voice for LGBT people, their families, and support systems.”
The organization, which has centers all over Long Island, from Queens to Sag Harbor, runs the official Long Island Pride Parade in Sayville. They are organizing the North Fork parade along with Greenport business owner Lori Panarello. Mr. Vitelli said participating in this event lines up with the organization’s overall goals.
“We’ve always felt like we needed to do more for the residents on the East End of Long Island,” he said. “To branch out from that main event to an event like this so that we can reach more people and engage more people in celebrating Pride is really a golden opportunity.”
The parade will begin at noon on Saturday, June 24, at the corner of Front and Main streets in Greenport. The festivities will move on to Mitchell Park from 1 to 4 p.m. and organizers are working on setting up a dance reception at 5 p.m., a location to be determined. For more information, visit northforkpride.org.
“It’s going to be a really cool event,” Ms. Panarello said. “I’m hoping to turn it into really a weekend event in an attempt to raise awareness on the North Fork that we are out here in large numbers. The festival could be really good for business as well.”
Ms. Panarello purchased a summer home on the North Fork almost a decade ago and opened her salon, Craft Hair, in Greenport during the COVID pandemic after years of working as the global artistic director for KMS Hair. Ms. Panarello immediately immersed herself in the community through groups such as North Fork Women.
She has been mulling over the idea of local Pride celebrations for years, but jumped into action after a small group of area women, all members of the LGBTQ community, marched in Greenport’s July 4 parade last year.
“It was a very small representation and the community seemed to support it and I was like, ‘That’s it, we shouldn’t be marching in another parade, we need our own parade,’ ” she said. “I knew then that it was time, and the North Fork was ready and that was when I started to really reach out to different people.”
The support has been overwhelming, Ms. Panarello said. Many organizations, such as Greenport Business Improvement District as well as store owners and local officials from Southold and Greenport have reached out to help.
“I started to talk to all of the people I knew in the community, business owners and clients, both straight and gay, and I started to put the idea out in front of them and there wasn’t one person that didn’t say to me, ‘I want to help,’ ” she said. “Every person I talked to was so excited about the idea and wanted to help.”
Mr. Vitelli hopes this event helps increase access to all of LGBT Network’s resources for North Forkers. “Long Island is different from a lot of other places just because of our geography, it’s just more difficult to get around,” he said. “So, for us to be able to partner and collaborate with local Greenport folks and be able to bring our infrastructure and experience to produce this event is really great.”