MICHIGAN CITY – Music and color, food and drink, peace and love abounded near the lakefront Saturday at the second annual Michigan City Pride Fest.

Carol Pozos, founder of PFLAG Michigan City and La Porte County, which coordinates the event, compared Saturday’s festival at the Guy Foreman Amphitheater in Washington Park to the inaugural event at the city’s You Are Beautiful lot last year.

“We’ve had much larger attendance and many more vendors this year,” she said. “Thankfully, the weather is so much better and people can stay longer. I see so many more pan(sexual) flags this year that I didn’t see last year – that makes me really happy. And a lot of young people, which is so very important.”

A rainbow-colored pergola of balloons welcomed festival goers; and food trucks, vendor booths and a beer garden were set up between the amphitheater and Fedder’s Alley.

Musical performers took the stage throughout the day; and Welcome to the Other Side performed their high-energy, family-friendly drag show to close the event Saturday night.

Men and women, old and young, heterosexual and all forms of LGBTQIA individuals came together in a show of support for members of the latter.

One pair of vendors set up a booth at Pride simply to offer free mom hugs. Michele Tarnow of Valparaiso and Nicole Brenzek of Chesterton met through the Facebook group Free Mom Hugs – Indiana. They estimated a hundred or more people stopped by the booth for a hug.

“One young lady came back after she had had a hug and said, ‘I’m estranged from my own mom, so this means so much to me',” Tarnow said.

Brenzek added, “We are moms with children in the LGBTQ community, and we worry about our kids. We just want them to be happy and survive and be loved.

"We know that doesn’t exist for every child in the community, so that’s what motivates us to be here – just to be able to put a smile on somebody’s face, to let them know that there are people out there who care, and that they’re loved.”

Pozos, also the mom of a child in the LGBTQIA community, said PFLAG has set out to host annual Pride events for the same reason she established a local chapter of PFLAG.

“The LGBTQ community needs to see that there’s acceptance and needs to see that there is a community for them here,” she said. “A lot of hard work has gone into making this day happen, and we do it out of love.”

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