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'Largest' ever Pride in the Park event to be held Saturday

By Leslie Lake for the Norwalk Hour

NORWALK -- In what organizers are calling the largest event of its kind to take place in Fairfield County, Triangle Community Center's (TCC) "Pride in the Park," will be held at Mathews Park on Saturday.

The all-inclusive, family friendly LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning) Pride festival for Fairfield County residents has been organized to foster education, raise awareness, and create a more visible LGBTQ community.

Citing Fairfield County as welcoming area for LGBTQ individuals, TCC Executive Director Anthony Crisci said one of the goals of the day-long festival is to build a sense of community.

"There are 50,000 LGBT people in Fairfield County," Crisci said. "The Pride event makes it clear that this is a welcoming area for the LGBTQ community. We believe that people live in Fairfield County for a reason-it's a polite society that we have here."

While not the first TCC-organized Pride event, it promises to be the largest, Crisci said.

"We've been working on this since February and we expect to have more than 600 people at this point," he said.

"Pride in the Park" is the first that TCC has held on public space and the event has grown substantially since its inception.

"We had the first Pride in 2004 and had the festival every year up until three or four years ago," Crisci said. "At the time we were all volunteer and we've since hired our first staff so we've been able to expand this."

TCC is among the first of its kind for the Fairfield County area to focus on underserved communities such as LGBTQ senior citizens, LGBTQ families and LGBTQ young adults, for whom it has developed a new offering of programs and services.

"Pride in the Park will be an excellent way for us to not only showcase our work and programs, but to also bring our local community together. We'll be able to focus on the LGBTQ families that are already in our area," Crisci said.

TCC recently launched a Family Series, which focuses on parenting as well as building and planning families in the lesbian and gay community. "Pride in the Park" will be a culmination of the programming and resources made available by TCC to LGBTQ families and the surrounding community.

"The Fairfield County LGBTQ community is at a much greater risk of isolation, discrimination, and myriad other social issues than its peers. Through Triangle Community Center we're providing programming and resources to nurture growth and connection within the LGBTQ community here," he said.

"Pride in the Park" will feature food vendors, local merchants, non-profit resource tables, a family picnic area and a small stage with local artists.

Sponsors of the event include General Electric (GE), World Health Clinicians (WHC), TD Bank and Mid-Fairfield AIDS Project (MFAP). A "Pride Guide" featuring other local events, sponsors and TCC programming is available on the TCC website.

"Pride in the Park": noon to 5 p.m., Saturday, June 14 at Mathews Park, 295 West Ave., Norwalk. Family friendy and open to everyone who wishes to attend.

Information: www.ctgay.org