The Cavalier Daily
Serving the University Community Since 1890

Charlottesville community gathers at IX Park for Pride Week’s Thursday Night Market

IX Park was abuzz with music, colors, food and more Thursday night

There was an intimate and friendly atmosphere at IX Park Thursday evening, as the Charlottesville Pride Community Network hosted a Thursday Night Market Pride Takeover as part of their weeklong Pride celebration.
There was an intimate and friendly atmosphere at IX Park Thursday evening, as the Charlottesville Pride Community Network hosted a Thursday Night Market Pride Takeover as part of their weeklong Pride celebration.

There was an intimate and friendly atmosphere at IX Park Thursday evening, as the Charlottesville Pride Community Network — a local nonprofit that provides support and engagement through resources and yearlong programming events for the local LGBTQ community — hosted a Thursday Night Market Pride Takeover as part of their weeklong Pride celebration. Music played in the background as community members of all ages bought food and other treats, socialized and explored local vendors and nonprofits under a colorful myriad of tents — with the occasional spotting of a dog or two. 

The event took place from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. with a couple hundred people coming and going throughout the evening. While the event was in an open-air space, attendees were asked to have a mask with them when approaching vendors or other parties.

In a non-pandemic context, Pride Week consists of a series of events throughout the week, culminating in an annual Pride festival at the Ting Pavilion on the Downtown Mall. However, due to the ongoing pandemic, this week is the first Pride Week since 2019, and the second year that the Pride festival has been cancelled. 

“2019 was our last Pride Week and our last festival,” said Elena Michaels, vice president and event coordinator of the Charlottesville Pride Community Network. “We just wanted to make sure that we could do something this year, even if it wasn't like our full blown-out party. People are just itching for that time to connect with their community.”   

So, the night market was an opportunity to “give people a piece of the festival experience that they wouldn't be getting at other events throughout the week.”

Community members interacted with nonprofit vendors — like Planned Parenthood, the Blue Ridge Abortion Fund and the Sexual Assault Resource Agency — that would usually be present at the festival. Attendees could also buy Pride merchandise — merchandise isn’t sold throughout the year at other events — and connect with local businesses and food trucks. The night ended at The Looking Glass, an immersive art museum, with a drag show that began at 9 p.m. for ages 18 and up to support central Virginia drag artists.

Pride Week kicked off earlier in the week on Saturday with an annual picnic for youth and families at Washington Park. Next, the network held an LGBTQ Business & Professionals Happy Hour at Three Notch’d Craft Kitchen Patio on Monday and an LGBTQ Trivia Night on Wednesday at Firefly Restaurant & Game Room. The network also hosted its weekly Pride Night Thursday tasting at Vitae Spirits Tasting Room for attendees to grab a drink in between the night market and drag show — this event will continue every Thursday night for the foreseeable future. On Sunday, Pride Week wraps up with a free showing of the drag comedy “To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Love, Julie Newmar” from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Piedmont Virginia Community College Dickinson Theater. 

Michaels noted that a distinct aspect of Pride Week is its occurrence during September rather than June, the nationally recognized Pride Month. One reason for the September date is so Charlottesville’s Pride Week can have its moment without being overshadowed by Pride festivities in bigger cities like Washington, D.C. and New York City in June. The network also wants to ensure University students are able to come since most students tend to be away during the summer. 

“U.Va. is such a big part of the Charlottesville community that we want to make sure that students are able to participate as well,” Michaels said.

Class of 2015 alum and attendee Sam Rasnic also commented on the sense of community creating a welcoming and affirming space at the night market. 

“I think it's important for people to be seen as part of the community where they live because we know that we're here,” Rasnic said. “I remember the first Pride I went to, I was just smiling the whole time. I was giddy like a kid to be able to go and to see people that you relate to and to feel welcome and seen and heard and loved.” 

Attendee AJ Cohn expressed similar sentiments about the feeling of belonging cultivated by Charlottesville’s Pride events. Cohn relocated to Charlottesville about a year ago and praised the work being done to make healthy spaces for LGBTQ people here.

“I certainly before moving here wasn't really as familiar with the community here,” Cohn said. “But I felt really welcomed and have been really happy with the various resources and groups that great people in the community are working to build and spread.” 

For those who have never been to a Pride event, Rasnic recommends going — saying “there’s nothing quite like it” — with an open, respectful and welcoming attitude. All human beings are different, so Pride is meant to embrace and celebrate that individual versatility and self-expression. 

“Pride is a space about respect for one another, and respect and love and compassion,” Rasnic said. “So [come] into the Pride space ....  from that perspective of being open and welcoming to everyone.”

Comments