ST. JOHNS, Mich. — On Saturday, June 18 from noon to 4 p.m., the SJ Call-In Coalition will be hosting the city's second annual Pride festival on Higham Street in downtown St. Johns.
"The first one was really low-key," Andrea Ryan, co-founder of the SJ Call-In Coalition, said. "We weren't really knowing what to expect. We didn't really want to ruffle too many feathers, and so we just kind of had like a sidewalk chalk art event, and we posted in on our Facebook page."
Ryan said they expected maybe 20 people to show up, but it was more like 350 people.
"People were just sharing their stories and how much this meant to them, and like, they didn't think that St. Johns would ever have anything like this, and just how it may have even prevented some people from committing suicide," Ryan said. "Like, this was just something deeply needed in the community and we felt like, 'Okay, they loved this,' and they're like, 'We want it bigger, better next year.'"
While this year's Pride fest will also have the sidewalk chalk art component, there will also be food trucks, like El Oasis and The Fry Guy, live music, an open mic, vendors and more. They're expecting an even bigger turnout.
"Last year, we only put it on our Facebook page," Ryan said. "This year, we've sent it out to so many different places."
Ryan said the city is also supportive of the event. FOX 47 News reached out to City Manager Dave Kudwa to confirm, but he was not available for interview.
"They did get some push-back last year, more so than this year. You know, people calling the mayor and things like that," Ryan said. "Overall, this community has been very welcoming and the few critics that we do have are really overshadowed by the large support."
In 2020, Ryan co-founded the SJ Call-In Coalition with her sister.
"One of the main reasons why we do this work is really to provide space and to provide support in our community, just because we do know that substance abuse is on the rise and so is suicide," Ryan said. "Something as easy as us saying, 'Hey, we see you and we're here for you, and we love you,' can provide some sort of support that they might not be getting at school, they might not be getting at home."
The coalition is still raising money for the event. So far, they've raised just over $1,100 of their $5,000 goal.
Want to see more local news? Visit the FOX47News Website.
Stay in touch with us anytime, anywhere.
Sign up for newsletters emailed to your inbox.
Select from these options: Neighborhood News, Breaking News, Severe Weather, School Closings, Daily Headlines, and Daily Forecasts.