By Eric Ornelas, SSDC president

The 2021 Greater Palm Springs Pride Festival was held on November 6 and 7 in downtown Palm Springs where Safe Schools Desert Cities hosted the Youth Zone and marched in the parade.

Several GSA Clubs from the Coachella Valley and surrounding areas walked in the parade with Safe Schools Desert Cities. Walking the parade route with their friends and advisors and listening to the cheers of hundreds of spectators proved to be an uplifting experience for our students. A common reaction from the kids was, “this is the best day ever!”

The parade was impactful for spectators as well. The sight of hundreds of LGBTQ+ students walking boldly and proudly down Palm Canyon Drive, left some spectators emotional and in tears. “I never thought I would see this in my lifetime. It’s fantastic,” said one spectator. 

Our friends at Walmart/Sam’s Club provided a free pre-parade breakfast for our kids along with backpacks filled with Pride t-shirts, assorted flags, face glitter, and other goodies. Employees from the Palm Springs and La Quinta locations gathered prior to the parade to assemble the bags for our kids. We could not be more thankful for their support!

After the parade, our students gathered at the Youth Zone where they had lunch, rested, participated in activities, or just hung out. Activity and information booths were provided by the Rainbow Youth Pride Alliance, Borrego Health, and DAP Health to entertain and educate our students. These organizations have been amazing partners, and we are grateful for their participation.

Lunch was provided in the Youth Zone by The Sandwich Spot, Palm Springs. Store owner, Dena Banes, and her crew worked extra hard and extra early on an already busy day to assemble 250 sandwiches for our kids. Thank you, Dena and team. The sandwiches were a hit!

The Youth Zone and parade participation were made possible by our volunteers, GSA advisors, and by Ron De Harte, president of the Palm Springs Pride Organization. Ron and his team continue to be invaluable partners. We are thankful for the support and look forward to next year.

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