By Matt Mattei - [email protected]

Ninth annual NEPA PrideFest gets more interactive at Montage Mountain

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NEPA Rainbow Alliance board of directors co-chair Carl Halkyer, left, and his partner Paul Chapman, both of Waverly, adjust the rainbow flag overlooking PrideFest in the Pittston Tomato Festival in 2015. Halkyer said moving the event to Montage Mountain’s water park makes it more interactive and family friendly.
Bill Tarutis | For Weekender
Alex Zellner of Pittston advertises free hugs at PrideFest 2015 in Pittston. The 2016 production of the event takes place at Montage Mountain in Scranton and features guest speaker U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Scranton.
Bill Tarutis | For Weekender
Decked out in rainbow-colored wings, Tait Gehman, of Emmaus, dances at the pavilion in Kirby Park during the 2014 NEPA PrideFest. This year’s event, held at Montage Mountain, features live entertainment and around 30 vendors.
Pete Wilcox | Weekender

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    SCRANTON — In it’s ninth year, NEPA PrideFest has grown into a larger, higher profile venue to provide more activity to an already valued expression of togetherness and support in the LGBTQ community.

    NEPA PrideFest 2016, branded “Pride on the Mountain” takes place from 5 to 10 p.m. Aug. 5 at Montage Mountain Water Park, 1000 Montage Mountain Rd. The event features live entertainment, around 30 vendors, information tables, guest speakers and food and drink. In addition, patrons will have access to water park attractions.

    “I’m really excited,” co-chair of the NEPA Rainbow Alliance board of directors Carl Halkyer said. “It’s the first time PrideFest will be much more interactive. There’s additional things to do rather than just sitting and watching entertainment.”

    Entertainment is still a major part of the event with live music from Nova City, DJs from each of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s three popular LGBTQ friendly bars and drag performers Trixie Valentine and Oliver Twist among others.

    But when attendees are not taking in the sites and sounds, they can drift along the lazy river or cool off on the water slides.

    “This also allows us to have kids activities,” Halkyer said. “It makes PrideFest even more family friendly.”

    The Mr. and Ms. PrideFest contest was held at Heat Bar & Nightclub in Wilkes-Barre Aug. 1, and the winners will be crowned at Pride on the Mountain, but the guest of honor, Halkyer said, will be Senator Bob Casey.

    “Senator Casey has just co-sponsored the Equality Act, which introduced legislation to the Senate for a nation wide equality bill that protects LGBT individuals,” Halkyer said. “We very excited to have the senator.”

    Slocum Hollow bar opens its doors to provide libations for attendees, and food will be provided by both Montage Mountain and private vendors.

    Not all vendors are geared toward consumables.

    “A lot of our vendors are resource oriented,” Halkyer said. “It’s a great way for us to provide resources to the community.”

    Caring Communities, for instance, provides HIV and STD testing and support services on site during the event. Faith-based organizations like St. Luke’s Parish of Scranton participate in the gathering, and the NEPA Rainbow Alliance sets up information tables for the benefit of patrons.

    “We have also partnered with the Bradbury Sullivan LGBT Center in the Lehigh Valley to make this year’s PrideFest a smoke free environment,” Halkyer said.

    PrideFest, Halkyer said, is a great day for the LGBTQ community as well as its allies, families, friends and supporters.

    “It also gives us a great way to have our community in one area, so the alliance can ask questions and take surveys to learn about what resources the community needs,” Halkyer said. “Pride started in recognition of the Stonewall Riots in New York. It’s a time for the LGBT population to come together to show their pride and show their presence and support each other.”

    NEPA Rainbow Alliance board of directors co-chair Carl Halkyer, left, and his partner Paul Chapman, both of Waverly, adjust the rainbow flag overlooking PrideFest in the Pittston Tomato Festival in 2015. Halkyer said moving the event to Montage Mountain’s water park makes it more interactive and family friendly.
    http://theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/web1_TTL081615PrideFest_3.jpgNEPA Rainbow Alliance board of directors co-chair Carl Halkyer, left, and his partner Paul Chapman, both of Waverly, adjust the rainbow flag overlooking PrideFest in the Pittston Tomato Festival in 2015. Halkyer said moving the event to Montage Mountain’s water park makes it more interactive and family friendly. Bill Tarutis | For Weekender

    Alex Zellner of Pittston advertises free hugs at PrideFest 2015 in Pittston. The 2016 production of the event takes place at Montage Mountain in Scranton and features guest speaker U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Scranton.
    http://theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/web1_TTL081615PrideFest_2.jpgAlex Zellner of Pittston advertises free hugs at PrideFest 2015 in Pittston. The 2016 production of the event takes place at Montage Mountain in Scranton and features guest speaker U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Scranton. Bill Tarutis | For Weekender

    Decked out in rainbow-colored wings, Tait Gehman, of Emmaus, dances at the pavilion in Kirby Park during the 2014 NEPA PrideFest. This year’s event, held at Montage Mountain, features live entertainment and around 30 vendors.
    http://theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/web1_pridefest01.jpgDecked out in rainbow-colored wings, Tait Gehman, of Emmaus, dances at the pavilion in Kirby Park during the 2014 NEPA PrideFest. This year’s event, held at Montage Mountain, features live entertainment and around 30 vendors. Pete Wilcox | Weekender
    Annual LGBTQ event more interactive at Montage

    By Matt Mattei

    [email protected]

    IF YOU GO:

    What: NEPA PrideFest 2016: Pride on the Mountain

    Where: Montage Mountain Water Park, 1000 Montage Mountain Rd., Scranton

    When: 5 to 10 p.m. Aug. 5

    Additional information: Tickets for Pride on the Mountain cost $5 in advance and $7 the day of the event and are available at neparainbowalliance.yapsody.com/.

    Reach Matt Mattei at 570-991-6651 or Twitter @TLArts

    Reach Matt Mattei at 570-991-6651 or Twitter @TLArts

    IF YOU GO:

    What: NEPA PrideFest 2016: Pride on the Mountain

    Where: Montage Mountain Water Park, 1000 Montage Mountain Rd., Scranton

    When: 5 to 10 p.m. Aug. 5

    Additional information: Tickets for Pride on the Mountain cost $5 in advance and $7 the day of the event and are available at neparainbowalliance.yapsody.com/.