First Santa Maria Pride Festival draws big crowd, support

Santa Maria Pride

SANTA MARIA, Calif. - The first Santa Maria Pride Festival took place Saturday in downtown Santa Maria.

The festival was organized by the House of Pride & Equality or HOPE. 

"This is all about bringing everyone together as a community here," said Amy Katscher of HOPE. "Pride for all sorts of not just gender expressions, or sexualities, but also different races, different religions."

Community organizations from across the Santa Maria Valley showcased their support.

"It's really important to have a place where you can be safe and be visible," said Cemre Koz.

Koz, a transperson, says they enjoy seeing pride support outside of big cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco.

"It can be hard to find community, so I think it's really cool when small places like this get a celebration and a place to be visible," said Koz.

HOPE says they believe this will become an annual event. For many in attendance, simply having a pride event in Santa Maria is a big step forward.

"I'm really proud that our community is growing, and slowly becoming more open-minded," said Lupita Rios.

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