RED DEER -- Red Deer will have its first ever pride parade on Aug. 1. The drive-by parade will have participants displaying their pride from their vehicles as they drive through the streets of downtown Red Deer.

The event will start at 11 a.m. at the Black Knight Inn parking lot, head north down Gaetz Ave, and wind through downtown Red Deer via Ross Street.

Alex Pugatschew, co-founder of the Red Deer Queer Community Association (RDQCA) said the parade has been in the works for the better part of a year.

“We really wanted to do something because the vast majority of the pride festival is cancelled this year because of COVID,” said Pugatschew.

“We wanted to do something that still got people out.”

Pugatschew believes a pride parade is necessary in a city that has never had one before and in a city that has yet to pass a bylaw banning conversion therapy.

“It’s important for Red Deer and central Alberta to recognize that just because we haven’t had one before doesn’t mean that we don’t still exist and that it’s not still important,” said Pugatschew.

“Especially on the foot of the conversion therapy issues going around Alberta, and the fact that Red Deer has not banned it, it is really important to make sure that people recognize that just because there’s a pandemic going on, we are still here and we are still present in the community and our validation and our existence is just as important.”

Throughout the parade, physical distancing guidelines are expected to be adhered too. The parade will be followed by an after-party at the Kiwanis Picnic Park.

“There we will be handing out masks and making sure that all COVID precautions are being kept,” said Pugatschew.

The parade will kick off a month-long virtual celebration of online performances followed by a videogame streaming fundraiser beginning on Aug. 23.

“We got quite a few performances from queer artists across Canada,” said Pugatschew.

The event is being held in collaboration with the Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre (CASASC) and the Downtown Red Deer Business Association.

You can find more information about the parade online.