North Jersey Pride is back with month of events

MAP-pride fest-WMAPLEWOOD, NJ — North Jersey Pride, the nonprofit dedicated to promoting quality, acceptance, and respect for LGBTQ youth and families in New Jersey, returns to Memorial Park in Maplewood on Sunday, June 12, with an outstanding lineup of national and local talent, featuring rising star singer/songwriter Parson James, Samantha Marie Ware and RANGE A Cappella. Scott Nevins, host of Bravo TV’s hit show “The People’s Couch,” will emcee the day.

The afternoon will also feature up-and-coming artists including the all-female blues rock band Jane Lee Hooker; phenomenal cover band Groove Street, seven-piece soulful rock band Sweet Little Bloodhound; the award-winning Paper Mill Show Choir; the much-loved Front & Center Showtime Choir; and much more.

“We are looking forward to our best year yet,” Executive Director C.J. Prince said in a release, adding that organizers expect more than 5,000 attendees at this year’s festival. “North Jersey Pride has become a time when LGBTQ individuals and families come together with their supportive allies to celebrate equality, diversity and community. It’s also a time when we reach out to LGBTQ youth to remind them that we have their backs and they are not alone.”

PNC Bank will return as the 2016 presenting sponsor. “At a time when it’s never been more important, the North Jersey Pride Festival is a terrific way to foster the sense of inclusiveness that is the building block of strong communities,” Linda Bowden, New Jersey regional president of PNC Bank, said in the release. “As a presenting sponsor of the festival for the fourth consecutive year, we can think of no better way to help bring people together than by supporting this family-friendly celebration of the diverse world where we live and work.”

The Festival will take place in the midst of a month full of events that include the North Jersey Pride Run 5K on June 5; “Beyond Acceptance: Standing up for Our Kids,” a panel discussion co-sponsored by PFLAG North Jersey on June 9; a screening of “The Mask You Live In,” co-sponsored by the Newark LGBTQ Community Center on June 14; “The Kids are Still All Right,” a panel of COLAGE members at the Maplewood Library; “Hike the Fairy Trail,” an event with RADKids for gender-creative children and their families; and “Lessons in LGBTQ Parenting” with Family Equality Council and Spence Chapin on June 21.

This year, the organization is also introducing a new fundraiser, “Fever at 4Sixty6,” on June 16, which will take the place of the Dance for Equality. North Jersey Pride has rented out the swanky Club 4Sixty6 in West Orange, offering two levels, multiple bars, lounges and outdoor cabanas — and the largest disco ball in America. Award-winning DJ Citizen Jane will be in the booth, with DJ Just Love of Newark kicking it off. Prince notes the event is also a fundraiser and those who can are encouraged to take advantage of individual sponsorships and VIP tickets.

“This is our only fundraiser during Pride Month, and helps to pay for the festival, which is free, so we hope the whole community will come out and support,” Prince said.

For a complete list of events, visit www.Northjerseypride.org.

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