April showers brings New Hope’s 21st annual PrideFest

Attendees at a previous PrideFest in New Hope.
Attendees at a previous PrideFest in New Hope. (Photo: New Hope Celebrates)

New Hope’s 21st annual PrideFest is coming May 11-19, 2024. New Hope, which has a population of a little over 2,600, sees 15,000 people each year for their Pride month. A newcomer to the event may wonder why New Hope celebrates Pride earlier than the rest of the country.

“We do it in May for a couple of reasons, really,” New Hope Celebrates (NHC) President Melissa Patterson told PGN. “One is because we try not to conflict with other Prides, because we want everyone to appreciate all the different Prides that are in our area. And the other [is] because ours is actually held near Mother’s Day. We had a legendary drag queen that used to live in New Hope, who has since passed, who was named Mother Cavalucci. And she’s kind of an iconic figure in the community. So that is why our Pride is also held near Mother’s Day.”

Kristal Sotomayor’s film, “Don’t Cry for Me All You Drag Queens”, which explored Mother Cavalucci’s life and her famous wedding fundraisers aired last November at the Queer Cuts: New Hope film festival. 

Prior to PrideFest, drag performers competed in the 4th annual NHC Pride Pageant “Glamazon Reign Forest” to be crowned Miss and Mr. NHC. This year’s winners are Diva Divine Monroe and Sir Harold Angels. As Miss and Mr. NHC, they will represent the organization at events the entire year. 

Originally from Morrisville, PA, Diva Divine Monroe started her drag career in New Hope in 2021. In 2023, she was named the Tavern & Tiaras winner by Drag Queen Entertainment. Currently she hosts shows “Hail to the Queens” at Hurricane Jack’s and “Dragville” at the Morrisville Tavern.

In a press release from NHC, Monroe said of her win, “My goal as the newly crowned Miss NHC is to continue the work the former queens have started before me — to continue to uplift and be a figurehead in our community while also continuing the traditions and values that the organization holds dear to them. I also want to spotlight the community and organization and open the door to new faces, entertainers, and anyone else who has not experienced all that New Hope and NHC has to offer.”

Coming to New Hope from Denver, CO, Sir Harold Angels made his drag debut there in 2020. He was able to perform for two months before everything shut down due to COVID and was welcomed into the Haus of Dazzle by the late Simon Paul.

Sir Harold Angels is described as bringing a “passion for comedy, melodrama, and complex craft projects” to his drag. 

“I hope I’ll continue to make people laugh,” the performer said of winning Mr. NHC. “Humor is the best way I’ve found to cope with and combat some of the world’s injustices. Telling our stories, in whatever form that takes, is a humanizing act no one can take from us. Personally, I always hope to have fun while doing it!”

Both performers’ words embody PrideFest’s theme for this year: “Hear Us Roar!”

NHC says that the theme empathizes “the need to amplify LGBTQ+ voices and celebrate queer art.”

Patterson elaborated on this saying, “So obviously, this is an important year for elections. And you know, we are a nonprofit. So we do not necessarily endorse any party or candidate but we do support the LGBTQ+ community unwaveringly.”

“We just wanted to kind of put out a message that our voices need to be amplified,” Patterson said. “We need to elevate our voices, especially this year to make sure that we are heard and that we are taken into consideration as people kind of make their decisions about things later this year with the elections coming up. But also to make sure that the youth — the LGBTQ+ youth — see us all here, so that they can be just as proud to be exactly who they are, when they can see a whole community coming around doing that as well.”

PrideFest week is packed full of events with even more happening in the lead up to it. 

Drag Queen Story Hour and a Pride Movie Day showing of “Love, Simon” start the month off on May 4, with the Odd Bird Happy Hour on May 9.

PrideFest itself kicks off on May 11 at 11:30 a.m. with the Flag Unfurling, where a 25’x15’ Progress Flag is draped over the Starbucks building. This will be followed by a reception at Martine’s RiverHouse and the Opening Weekend Tea at The Club Room. 

After a week of events like Pride Bingo and Love is Love Gala, the Pride Parade on the 18th starts in Lambertville, NJ before heading across the bridge back into New Hope. This makes it the only Pride Parade to cross state lines. Immediately following it is PrideFest Live and the Pride Fair. The festivities wrap up with a Sunday Pride Closing Tea Dance & Pool Party on May 19.

Patterson shared that her favorite part of Pride is the early morning before the parade.

“One of my favorite things is when it’s really quiet that morning, and no one’s kind of like up and about yet, and you drive through town and you drive to these two towns and both of them are just kind of covered in rainbow flags and LGBTQ+ Pride decorations,” she said. “And I mean, one of the restaurants in town Under The Moon basically decorates the entire building for Pride. Just seeing your whole entire town and community kind of embrace Pride is, for me, one of the coolest experiences because that’s why I live here, because it’s safe for us,” she stated. 

“We definitely have a large [LGBTQ+] population here. But we also have a large population of allies, and their support is just so prevalent in this community during Pride, and it’s a really cool kind of experience to quietly drive through town and just see everyone kind of coming out [in] support,” Patterson continued. 

New Hope’s PrideFest will be held May 9-11 with other events leading up to it May 4-9. For more information and a full schedule, visit newhopecelebrates.com/events-calendar.

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