CAPE COD, Mass.—Parade? Not so much. What is today one of the largest outdoor celebrations in Massachusetts and recently named Best Festival on Cape Cod 2013, attracts around 90,000 revelers, bears no resemblance to the first Carnival celebration some thirty-five years ago.
“No floats. No banners. We did not even have costumes,” says one of the parade founders, Herbie Hintzer. “I wore a Ranch t-shirt, the inn where I was working at the time. With about five other inn owners we decided to do something to spark life into the slowest week of the summer.”
The Town opinion on ‘Let’s have a parade!’ was quite another thing. “We were told in no uncertain terms that locals did not like the idea of a gay parade, they did not want it to happen, and we should be prepared for some rock throwing. They even told us the corner where that would happen.” Undeterred, the fearless few made their way to the center of town. As they approached ‘the’ corner they held their breath expecting the worst.
“We could not believe it,” says Herbie, “We got a huge round of applause from everyone.” Thus the birth of both Carnival and the Provincetown Business Guild (PBG), formed to encourage and support GLBT tourism.
Carnival’s storied history includes the year that Ron Robin, owner of P’town’s landmark restaurant The Mews, decided to stir things up with an elephant — a real live elephant. “I personally collected the elephant and we marched him down Commercial Street. We won a prize, and it certainly got people talking. Although the purpose of Carnival may have changed over the years it is certainly important to all of us as it brings all of us together. And most importantly, it is great fun.”
From the first parade to present day, Candy Collins-Boden has been at the helm of the town’s Chamber of Commerce and calls Carnival the “over the top“ event of the season.
“Although Carnival is seen as a GLBT attraction, it’s fun for everyone, and is truly the best celebration in the state.”
“We now see as many as 80 parade entries in a week long Carnival celebration that fills the town,” says PBG Executive Director Erin Atwood, who each year is tasked with coming up with something new and different. “We’ve had some real winners with the pool party at the Brass Key & the Carnival Costume Ball at the Boatslip.
Both of these new events have been a huge success and really kick off Carnival Week in a new and different way that everyone loves. As for the parade, there is only one major rule, ‘Underwear please!’ We want to make sure that we offend no one, by maintaining a delicate balance, tread lightly, do not impede creativity and stay somewhat family friendly.”
To learn more about this and all other New England Pride Celebrations, stay tuned to The Rainbow Times’ New England Pride Guide and Map (two different pieces to encompass all things LGBT in the region). The pieces will be distributed at all Pride events from May – September, 2015 and wherever The Rainbow Times is distributed in New England (that is over 900 distribution points). TRT, via its website and social media, has the most extensive Pride coverage (photo covers and reports on most of the Pride Celebrations) in New England.