For the 1st time in 2 years, in-person Sonoma County Pride kicks off

The 36th annual Sonoma County Pride is back this weekend with in-person festivities for the first time in two years. Live music in Santa Rosa's Courthouse Square helped kick off Pride on Friday, ahead of Saturday’s annual parade. 

"This is what it should be. Celebrating pride, being happy, being who you are, every single day," said Gary Archuleta in Santa Rosa.

"It’s kind of nice to have everyone come back together as a big family," said Sonoma County Pride co-organizer Christopher Kren-Mora.

The theme of this year's Pride is "we are family", part of a concerted effort by organizers to make the event feel more inclusive after a year marked by division, civil unrest, and the challenges of the pandemic.

"It's a recognition of we are family. Not just the folks who party at the pride festival, but everyone, all the intersections of the LGBTQ community," said Sonoma County Pride co-organizer Grace Villafuerte.

This year, jeopardy winner and Oakland resident, Amy Schneider will serve as the first transgender grand marshal of the parade. A NASCAR race car will also make its way along the parade route for the first time ever.

"I think for LGBTQ folks who are maybe race car fans to be like whoa, my two worlds are colliding, because I think that sometimes we compartmentalize our two worlds, it’s always fun to see them collide," said Villafuerte.

NASCAR is one of more than 70 groups taking part in this year’s Sonoma County Pride Parade, which starts at 11am on Saturday in downtown Santa Rosa. Festivities run through Sunday with a Wigs & Waffles Drag Brunch.