Image courtesy of PRIDE Millvale.

Patty Harpur wants members of the LGBTQIA community to know that Millvale is a safe and accepting place.

Harpur, the first openly gay woman to sit on the borough’s council, is organizing PRIDE Millvale. The daylong celebration will be held on June 26 with festivities starting at noon.

While Millvale’s streets will not be closed during the event, the Grant Avenue Pocket Park (G.A.A.P.) at 518 Grant Ave. will serve as the festival’s hub, with informational tables representing various organizations and live music from 6 to 8 p.m.

More than 40 area businesses have agreed to fly rainbow flags outside of their establishments and host offer activities throughout the day.

Howard and Patricia Sorg, owners of Howard’s Pub in Millvale, fly a Progress Pride Flag outside of their business.
Howard and Patricia Sorg, owners of Howard's Pub in Millvale, fly a Progress Pride Flag outside of their business.

Harpur’s family owns Howard’s Pub at 142 Grant Ave. As part of the festivities, the bar will sell hamburgers and rainbow cocktails. From 6 to 9 p.m., Howard’s will host Drag Queen Bingo with Dixie Sherwood.

Another Millvale business that is showing its support is Tupelo Honey Teas. Owner Danielle Spinola is asking people to write letters of encouragement to members of the LGBTQIA community and drop them off or mail them to the business at 211 Grant Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15209. Make sure to put ATTN: PRIDE on the envelope

The notes are due by June 24. They will be opened and read to ensure they are kind and handed out to people during PRIDE Millvale as a Covid-safe alternative to a hug.

According to PRIDE Millvale’s Facebook page, more than 1,400 people are interested in the festival. Due to limited parking, visitors are encouraged to carpool, hop on a bike or take a ride-sharing service or public transportation.

Harpur, who is an EMT for Ross/West View Emergency Medical Services, says Covid protocols will be in place to help create a safe, outdoor space for people to gather. A GoFundMe page has been set up to accept donations.

Planning for the event started in April when Harpur and her grassroots team emailed local business owners and residents to gauge interest in PRIDE Millvale. The response was overwhelmingly positive.

“With everything that happened in the last year with the pandemic, different social justice movements and the election, I wanted to bring happiness back, to bring love back, to bring support back and to showcase the fact that this little town has great people in it,” Harpur says. “You can come into the business district and feel accepted.”

Visitors will, in turn, give a boost to Millvale’s bars, restaurants and shops, which took a hit during the pandemic.

Harpur hopes PRIDE Millvale becomes an annual celebration, like other popular events in the borough.

On June 12, PRIDE Millvale organizers will pass out information at the Millvale Music Summer Picnic at Millvale Riverfront Park from 3 to 9 p.m. This year’s free Millvale Music Festival will be held Aug. 6-7 with 300 musical acts on 26 stages, along with visual art, performance artists, spoken word, comedy and more.

“Pride happens in June, but, really it’s all the time,” Harpur says.

Kristy Locklin is a North Hills-based writer. When she's not busy reporting, she enjoys watching horror movies and exploring Pittsburgh's craft beer scene.