Noho Pride parade called off this year as organizers regroup for 2023

  • Participants and spectators are all but indistinguishable as Northampton’s 35th Pride parade progresses down Main Street in 2018. The parade, which had grown into the Pioneer Valley’s signature events, has been canceled for a third straight year — and this time, not directly because of the pandemic. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Monday, May 09, 2022

NORTHAMPTON — One of state’s largest and longest-running celebrations of queer jubilance, the Noho Pride parade and festival, has been canceled this year as a new crop of organizers look to rebuild for 2023.

“The plan for this year is rebuilding this organization because our entire, essentially the majority of our volunteer committee members, did step down or take a step back during the pandemic in order to focus on their lives, their careers, their health,” said Anna Hoff, who took over as executive director of the event in March 2020.

The annual celebration, which started 40 years ago, has drawn people from all over the East Coast, attracting more than 40,000 people every year in early May. The average cost of hosting the event was around $60,000.

With just a handful of volunteers to tackle the massive endeavor for this year, Hoff said it made more sense to try to build back up their team and to reimagine what the event could be into the future.

“Typically, it’s a nine-month process to plan this event and it has a lot more hands involved for sure than what we have now,” Hoff said. “We did explore a couple different options of what might be nice on a smaller scale, but even with the more recent omicron spike, we realized we need to get more people and resources to be able to figure out what we’re going to do going forward.”

The last in-person Pride event took place in 2019. The long pause is not intentional or for a lack of care from anyone involved, she said. On a personal note, Hoff said trying to balance coordinating the event with her full-time job on top of the pandemic was a lot to undertake.

Hoff was inspired to join the Pride organization five years ago and help plan the annual event that meant so much to her when she moved to the area from Pennsylvania a decade ago with her partner.

“It’s an indescribable feeling. There’s such a sense of palpable community. I think that feeling of feeling accepted and feeling like you have people around you ... is a joy I want to hone in on,” Hoff said.

Moving forward, Hoff discussed the possibility of revamping Noho Pride to include more than one event and program in an effort to cater to a larger audience.

For those interested in volunteering, she directed people to email volunteers@nohopride.org.

“I think once we get some people interested, and some more voices involved, I think it’s going to be really exciting to see what the future holds,” she said.

“I’m personally excited and would love to be able to help facilitate some forward movement with the group for whoever wants to hop on and plan for the future.”

Emily Thurlow can be reached at ethurlow@gazettenet.com.