The smoke cleared, the sun shined and a rainbow could be seen over Nelson City Hall.
That was the scene Monday morning as Pride Week kicked off with the raising of the Pride and transgender flags above City Hall.
Pride is entering its 22nd year in Nelson, but it’s the first time the event has flown its flag at the city centre. The only other time the Pride flag was raised was in June 2016 to mark a shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., that killed 49 and wounded 53.
Stephanie Myers, an organizer with Kootenay Pride, said Monday was an important moment for the community.
“I think it shows what our city stands for,” said Myers. “It shows visibility and inclusiveness and for kids who might be feeling a bit different or wondering if they belong here, then that shows them that yes, they do belong here.”
The event almost didn’t happen.
A request by Kootenay Pride to raise the flag prompted city staff to recommend the flagpole be restricted to just federal, provincial and municipal flags. But at an Aug. 13 meeting, city council opted instead to allow the flag through this year’s festivities ending Sunday, and develop a policy for future flag requests.
There were no debates however on Monday. A band supplied the music, Mayor Deb Kozak and Nelson Police Department chief Paul Burkart addressed the crowd, and the focus returned to the party ahead.
For a complete schedule of events, go to facebook.com/kootenaypride.