Ocean County’s second annual Toms River Pride had an incredible turnout for Saturday’s Drive-by festival, despite scattered showers and social distance guidelines. Families and people of all ages from all over the Shore area and across the state drove through the course from the comfort of their own rainbow-decorated vehicles. Participants were greeted with music, dancing and rainbow icies from Exit 82 Theatre members, received educational resources from PFLAG Jersey Shore and local LGBTQIA+ music from the Clubhouse of Toms River, learned about the late New Jersey-born Black transgender activist and ‘TR Pride’ Grand Marshal Marsha P. Johnson, were offered voter registration forms, visited participating Downtown businesses — and many drove through more than once. The event also received a huge amount of homemade Pride signs, all of which will be featured Downtown as part of an upcoming art installation by Exit 82 Theatre. After a Pride flag raising ceremony earlier this month at Toms River Town Hall and the Ocean County Administration Building, the Drive-by Pride received a tremendous show of support from officials including Toms River Township Councilwoman and Exit 82 Theatre Board Member Laurie Huryk who volunteered for the day, the Toms River Police Department which worked the event, and Congressman Andy Kim who provided a Pride video message of support.
To end the day, Virtual Pride participants enjoyed an informative talk on queer history and the intersectionality of prejudice from Garden State Equality, a musical performance from Asbury Park’s Milian Mafia which included educational moments about local LGBTQIA+ history and culture, and a special drag performance by top New York City queens including Toms River-born Izzy Uncut, Monmouth County-raised Jan from this past season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, and Lexington Banks. All tips from the drag performance were donated to the Marsha P. Johnson Institute, and 4 tickets donated by the Lakewood Blue Claws were given away to Virtual Pride participants.
Stay tuned for next year’s TR Pride, which is slated to take place in Huddy Park.
(Photos, videos and other assets can be found here and credited to Kyle Altenau: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1XslUpMPKDU5GB0bFmdItNqfFaDm3vRdf?usp=sharing)