Before the annual Central Oregon Pride festival in Bend’s Drake Park Saturday, more than 100 people marched through the downtown area to express their joy and support for the LGBTQ community.

The inaugural Dignity March for Humanity joined LGBTQ pride parades around the globe. The crowd in Bend sported festive outfits featuring rainbow-colored socks, scarves and hats. Some people waved rainbow flags, and others wore rainbow tutus. All ages marched, from children to grandparents.

Jamie McLeod-Skinner, of Terrebonne, the democratic challenger to U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, also joined the crowd.

The march started on Minnesota Avenue at the downtown shop, Forge Humanity, which hosted a premarch party with cocktails and snacks. The march then made its way to the festival in Drake Park, where hundreds of people were gathered. The park was full of vendors, and live music filled the air.

Tiphane Townley and her partner, Amy Farkas, owners of Forge Humanity, said they were encouraged by the turnout at their shop for the parade and festival. “Just seeing the community all coming together to support gay pride is awesome,” Townley said.

Bend resident Cathy Schaumburg, 72, who wore a red T-shirt that read, “Proud Grandma” in rainbow print, was eager to march Saturday to support her granddaughter, Amanda Hutchings.

Hutchings, 31, and her partner, Trish Perry, 39, are members of the Human Dignity Coalition, which organized the parade and festival.

“I think it’s wonderful,” Schaumburg said. “There is so much love and caring and community. It’s a day to celebrate.”

Schaumburg said she hoped the celebration helped to share a message that love is love.

“It doesn’t make any difference who you love; it’s that you love,” she said.

Janet Llerandi, a paralegal in Bend, came to the march and festival with her friend, Addie Beplate, a law student at the University of Oregon.

Beplate said she spent the past couple weeks attending Pride Month activities in Eugene and was excited to be a part of the celebration Saturday in Bend.

She sees the event as a way to support individuality and lifestyle.

“Being a part of that, that’s why I’m here,” Beplate said.

Llerandi said the day was about raising awareness.

“It’s about opening people’s minds to the lifestyle maybe they are a little afraid of,” Llerandi said, “and show them there is nothing to be afraid of.”

— Reporter: 541-617-7820, kspurr@bendbulletin.com

20617372