VIDEO: Surrey Pride Festival 2011
SURREY - Holland Park was decked out this weekend with performers, vendors, booths and a garnish of rainbows.
Jennifer Geddes, Miss Gay B.C., was one of the many performers who took the stage at Sunday's Surrey Pride festival.
The 12th annual Surrey Pride festival held a welcoming atmosphere, for everyone of every race, age and gender.
"Pride, to me, is about the freedom to be who you are," said Geddes. "It's about equality for everyone, it's about everyone getting together and having a good time."
The ambience at Pride was rich, with the sole purpose to celebrate equality, awareness and tolerance in the community.
"We have over six hours of entertainment today and over 50 venders of all shapes and sizes," said Cory Cassel, President of the OIS Society Rainbow cultural society and the chair of the 2011 Surrey Pride committee.
"Just a mishmash of different groups, organizations and businesses that have decided to come out and support Surrey Pride."
For Cassel, Surrey was the first city he came across, aside from downtown Vancouver, which had an established gay community to be a part of.
"I myself am a gay man, I've been with my partner for seven years. And we were engaged to be married last year, and getting married in two months time," said Cassel.
"We got involved with Surrey two and a half years ago, and we are thrilled and excited to find a community of friends here."
Dogs, families, singles and couples with rainbow flags in tow, all enjoyed performances by local activists and artists in the gay community such as the Chickabooms, Ted North the Empress and Canada Jennifer Geddes, and speeches by the Surrey Youth Alliance.
Shauny, a volunteer with the SYA, has been working with the group for over two years.
"I like coming to these events and helping out. I think it brings awareness and it shows that we are just like everyone else and we want to have fun too," she said.
The Vancouver Mission of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence had a colourful table at the event, with hopes to bring their mission from Vancouver into Surrey.
"Our (mandate) is doing fundraising and outreach around queer issues - particularly how they relate to HIV and homelessness," said Novice Sister Ethica.
"We are absolutely thrilled to be here in Surrey at this beautiful park and we look forward to coming here year after year."
The vibrancy of the event was contagious amongst Surrey residents, as the sunny weather continued to draw in people like Douglas Browning.
"I've lived in Surrey for seven years and it's just a nice thing to come out and support the community and its diversity and enjoy the festival with friends and the sun," said Browning.