June is Pride Month, and the City of Solvang is kicking off its first Pride Festival starting Thursday.
Santa Ynez Valley Pride is hosting a welcome party in Solvang on Thursday, June 22. On Saturday, a parade will take place throughout the streets of downtown.
"There are going to be hundreds of people who are going to show up in Solvang to watch a bunch of people walk around with rainbow flags. And there's nothing that's ever excited me more than that," Harry Mullin, a social media manager for Santa Ynez Valley Pride, told KSBY.
The Santa Ynez Valley Pride organization says they expect upwards of 500 people to come out.
The parade begins at 11 a.m. on Saturday. It will start on Alisal Mesa Rd. and loop through the downtown area.
“I feel very strongly about promoting inclusion in this valley of ours. I really think this is going to change lives, especially with our youth, by bringing awareness, acceptance to our valley," Dana Volk, a board member of Santa Ynez Valley Pride, said. "And I would go so far as to say it might even save lives.”
Board members said they weren't sure how the community was going to react, but are now working with more than 30 sponsors.
"We were worried when we first started this, and said, 'Well, is anybody going to be coming?' We were not sure about it." Ken Sorenson, another board member, said. "And the next thing I know, we were sold out."
"I'm constantly on the verge of tears because I can see how much this valley is embracing all that we're doing," Golzar Meamar, CEO of the organization, said. "That representation is very much needed here in this valley. And I just want my community to know that we are here to just uphold your dignity and your self-worth."
On Sunday, Santa Ynez Valley Pride will host a drag brunch, which has sold out. The organization is also planning yearlong events, including health check-ins and safe spaces.
Paso Robles will kick off its first Pride Parade on Friday, at the Downtown Park.