We did something brand new this year: we were part of the long-standing Long Beach Pride Parade.
Last year my good friend Emilio invited me to attend the 28th annual parade, which travels 1 mile down Ocean Blvd. I had never been, mostly because it was a Sunday morning event, and I don’t handle Sunday mornings well after working late both Friday and Saturday nights.
That morning I looked through my daughter’s dance costumes and found some rainbow suspenders, paired them with a set of my six-inch sparkly heels, and was off to meet all of Emilio’s friends at his home close to the parade route. The colorful Jell-O shots handed out to the crowd were also fun – I had a blast!
That day I knew. I knew I wanted to be part of the 2012 Pride event.
La Strada supports all parts of the Long Beach community, and this was one that I really wanted to celebrate. My employees were excited as well. They are a cohesive group of young people who really care about each other and look forward to participating in community events together.
We decided to go with Italian colors to represent the La Strada cuisine, and added rainbows to show our support. We came up with the idea of handing out stickers and Emilio designed the perfect ones for this event.
My dear friend Moses agreed to drive; he is someone on whom I can always depend.
I was also super excited because a friend that I had never met was going to be at the parade. I have many friends on Facebook, more than 4500 at last count. One that I really treasure is my friend Dave M. He is always supportive of me, making positive comments and giving me reassurance when I need it. I didn’t know what Dave looked like because his FB profile picture was frequently that of a seagull.
About 1/3 of the way through the parade route I was dancing and bopping along, when a man stepped out of the crowd. Before he even said, “Lisa, it’s Dave.” I knew it was him. We hugged like long-lost friends. It was the highlight of the day for me.
Besides the feeling of pride that day, what stood out to me more than anything was the abundance of love. I carried a sign that said, “I love hugs!” Jaime carried one that said, “Free hugs.” Friends, and then new friends, hugged us all along the way.
I was so very proud of my staff for giving of their time, heart, and love to the community.
Being part of Long Beach Pride was very fulfilling for all of us. We will be there next year!!