Burbank Pride hosted a fun-filled second annual Family Pride in the Park at McCambridge Park on Saturday, Sept. 23.
A crowd of community members was present at the gathering, which moved from its 2022 location, Magnolia Park, to McCambridge Park this year. The spirited event featured live music, a kids’ zone with bounce houses and “Frozen” characters Elsa and Anna, 25 retail vendors, 38 resources and information booths, a variety of sponsors, and 5 food trucks.
Special appearances were made by Omri Katz of “Hocus Pocus,” Joey Bragg and Kali Rocha of “Liv and Maddie,” Tony nominee Rory O’Malley, actor Cree Cicchino, and actor and comedian Carlos Alazraqui. Burbank Pride President and CEO Tracy Tabb served as the host.
On stage, Katz introduced the members of The Wisteria Theater Company. The actors then performed as the Sanderson sisters for their “Hocus Pocus” parody show, “Sistahs!”
“I had a great time, and it was an honor to be invited,” Katz said.
Lexi Collins and Renee Wylder, two Wisteria Theater performers, said, “It was a day full of love! We love to see an event in our hometown that brings families together. It was a pleasure meeting everyone, and we’re so grateful to Tracy and her team for allowing us to be a part of it and to Omri Katz for introducing our little show!”
Burbank Mayor Konstantine Anthony, Vice Mayor Nick Schultz, City Councilmembers Tamala Takahashi and Nikki Perez, Senator Anthony Portantino, Assemblymember Laura Friedman, and Jim Roy, a representative from Caroline Menjivar’s office, attended.
Other entertainers who took the stage included members of the Conundrum Theatre Company, Saylor Bell, Stephanie Miller, Watson Side, Valarie Pettiford, DJ Kōda, and rock groups Sister Sister and The Royal Dynamics.
Sister Sister is made up of two sets of sisters whose ages range from 10 to 12 years old. The band has been playing music together for just over a year and performed four songs for the attendees. The talented musicians expressed their joy in being selected for the lineup.
“It’s very exciting,” lead guitarist and backup vocalist Ruby Lovell said.
Penelope Lovell, lead vocalist and backup guitarist, added, “It’s a really great opportunity.”
In addition, The Royal Dynamics played a dozen songs for a crowd-pleasing 30-minute set. A guitarist of the five-person band, Michael Parianos, stated that one reason he felt inspired to contribute to the Burbank Pride ceremony as a performer and volunteer is its focus on family.
“This is family Pride, so it’s a little different than Pride,” Parianos said. “It’s kids’ stuff, and it’s inclusionary and more. So that’s why I think we dig it the most.”
Royal Dynamics bassist Sheldon Riddles is a father of two kids who are both LGBTQIA+ community members. He says that Family Pride in the Park has provided the chance to honor his children in a welcoming atmosphere.
“When I heard about this, I was like, this is the perfect thing,” Riddles said. “It’s a family Pride thing, so now I can bring my kids, and we can all hang out together. And we can celebrate their individuality all together at once.”
Some of the celebration’s sponsors were Senator Anthony Portantino, Nickelodeon Animation, Assemblymember Laura Friedman, the Burbank Community YMCA Social Impact Center, RE/MAX Empower, The Table, First Christian Church of Burbank, Burbank Temple Emanu El, Bento Box Entertainment, Burbank Water and Power, Jirair Ratevosian, Little White Chapel, Modern Roofing Inc., Subaru of Glendale, American Lutheran Church of Burbank, Rothman Andres Management, Velocity Clinical Research, and Worthe Real Estate Group.
Burbank Pride was initiated in 2019 by Rob Rodriguez, a local who also founded the Burbank Community YMCA Social Impact Center. Rodriguez then passed the torch to Tabb. During the 2022 Family Pride in the Park, Tabb says about 2,500 locals showed up at Magnolia Park, and nearly 3,800 people subscribed to the Burbank Pride mailing list following the event’s success.
Per Burbank Pride’s site, the organization aims “to create uplifting, entertaining, educational, and safe events for our diverse LGBTQIA+ community, where all people are respected, valued, and affirmed, inclusive of their sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.”
“Burbank Pride has always been about community,” said Burbank Pride Communications Chair and The Table Associate Pastor Madison McAleese. “By bringing together local families, friends, nonprofits, faith communities, and artists to celebrate LGBTQ+ inclusion and acceptance, we are showing the world that Burbank is a loving place where all are affirmed and supported for who they are.”
Tabb and a couple of other Burbank Pride committee members next want to start a Burbank Pride foundation. This would function similar to an LGBTQIA+ center and would offer mental health services and “a safe place for people to go and be themselves,” Tabb shares.
As Family Pride in the Park again saw a strong turnout for its second year, Tabb spoke of how the occasion has continued to create a space for the LGBTQIA+ community while uniting all Burbankers.
“[It’s] like a dream come true,” Tabb said. “It’s something that I have wanted for Burbank for so long because this community is so much about family, and everybody just wants to be included. And I think, for a long time, that the LGBT community didn’t have a spot to be in Burbank. It seemed like Burbank spoke up, and we’re here.”
Learn more about Burbank Pride here.
Note: The Burbank Police Department, along with security personnel, was in attendance. In a statement, Burbank Police Department Public Information Officer, Sergeant Stephen Turner said, “Burbank PD was in constant contact with the event organizers leading up to and throughout the event to ensure their safety and the safety of others. There were groups that expressed their intent to demonstrate at the event, with the potential for groups both in support and opposition of the event to be present.“
He added, “Our number one priority is always to protect the rights of law-abiding citizens and afford them the opportunity to hold demonstrations in peace and to exercise their freedom of speech. Burbank PD monitored the situation closely and had the equipment and personnel necessary to address any circumstances that strayed beyond what would be considered a peaceful demonstration. The Burbank PD played a limited role in this overall peaceful event.“