Yesterday, I attended my first ever Northwest Arkansas Pride Parade held in downtown Fayetteville. I was part of over 12,000 people from all over the area joining together to celebrate life and love and people. It was beastly hot, but the colors, the sense of community, the support, the friendship, the hugs, the spending time with Meghan, her boyfriend and my best friend and her family, the joining together for a cause . . . . all that and more made up for the 90+ temperatures. I was hunkered down on a street corner taking pictures, the whole time grinning from ear to ear, sometimes choking back the lump in my throat that I usually get during such inspiring events. You could practically reach out and touch the joy that was in the air. Just so much joy and laughter and love.
After living in the bustling Washington, DC Metro area for most of my adult life, the relaxed atmosphere of a small(-ish) town such as Fayetteville really makes me feel as though I'm a part of the community, not just another commuter/shopper/fill-in-the-blank that I felt in DC. It's the Farmer's Market and the street festivals and and events that are held on a weekly and monthly basis here in this little area nestled in the quiet Ozark Mountains that make me feel like I count. I run into neighbors and friends whenever I go to the grocery store. I can run along the trails and get friendly hellos and waves from other runners and walkers that I pass. I can strike up conversations with strangers while waiting in line at the bank or the DMV. This feeling of acceptance and friendship is so welcomed after living in northern Virginia where you never really quite got to know anyone.
And yesterday along Dickson Street in the heart of Fayetteville that feeling was never more represented than in the colorful parade that marched down the center of the avenue. What an amazing day!
To see more of yesterday's parade, just click on the link here.