Seal Beach 2023 Pride festival set for June 10

Special event permit application was still under review as of May 24

The 2023 Seal Beach Pride Festival is scheduled to be held from 1 to 8 p.m., Saturday, June 10, in Eisenhower Park, according to the Seal Beach Pride, Inc., website. The Seal Beach Pride website shows a countdown for the Pride Festival.

The city mailed a notice about the 2023 festival dated May 11 to nearby residents. It was signed by Recreation Manager Tim Kelsey. who provided the Sun with a copy of the notice. According to the notice, the public had five days to provide comment.

On May 22, Kelsey said during an in-person interview that the application was still being processed. The application had apparently been reviewed by all city departments (and the Orange County Fire Authority). Kelsey said on Monday afternoon, May 22, that he had not had a chance to review feedback from the other departments.

According to the notice, the recreation manager would make a decision about the permit within 10 calendar days

On Tuesday, May 23, the Sun emailed City Manager Jill Ingram to ask about the status of the permit application.

At 10:15 a.m., Wednesday, May 24, Assistant City Manager Patrick Gallegos emailed the city’s reply: “The special event permit for the Pride Celebration has not yet been approved. The public comment period closed on Friday, May 19 and the permit is still under review by staff. Event organizers are at liberty to promote their event despite not having an approved permit, but they are assuming some risk if they advertise prematurely.”

According to the notice, a copy of which Kelsey provided to the Sun, Stephanie Wade and Eva Estrada/Seal Beach Pride, Inc., have requested to host eight to nine musical acts on a stage, with speaking programs, and food.

Wade, accompanied by her  friend Heather Roberts, announced the festival during the public comment segment of the Monday, May 22, City Council meeting.

Wade said it was fortuitous that the council meeting was being held on May 22, because that was Harvey Milk Day. (In 1977 Milk became the first openly gay individual to be elected in California when he won a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, according to the Harvey Milk Foundation website.)

Wade said this was the official start of pride month for the LGBT community.

“In particular tonight, we’re extremely excited because we have something to announce,” Wade said.

“After the past two years of pride events that were fairly informal, and not permitted, and we’re very grateful for those people who came before us and had pride celebrations in Eisenhower Park, but this year we’ve worked with the city and I’m very grateful that city staff have been wonderful, terrific, and easy to work with,” Wade said.

“We’re inviting you and the rest of the city to come on June 10th when we’ll be putting on our celebration,” Wade said.

Wade described it as a day of fun and music for the entire city. “Everything is free and open to the public,” Wade said.

“We’ve signed eight great musical acts,” Wade said.

“And we’re all proud that they’re all queer musical acts,” Wade said.

Wade said a big part of what they were doing was trying to support the LGBTQ community.

“Moreover, we have two drag queen emcees,” Wade said.

She didn’t mention Seal Beach Pride, Inc., by name, but identified it as a 501(c)(3) organization.

Kane Durham spoke next. Durham said he was the emcee at the first Huntington Beach pride celebration. Durham said they would be bringing the large pride flag, which he called a symbol of joy, inclusion, and love, to Seal Beach. Durham said that was what the festival was about: a community coming together in joy, inclusion, and love.

“We hope that Seal Beach can come out and show that they’re a welcoming and inclusive city,” Durham said.

The inaugural pride parade was held in June 2021. That parade was organized by Chase McCants Farrell of Evolved—Residents for Equality in Seal Beach.  The inaugural parade was led by a Seal Beach Police car driven by an officer who Farrell said was driving with her wife.

Kelsey said the special event applicants met all the requirements during an in-person interview on Monday, May 22. (In related news, Kelsey said applications from Band on the Sand and Big Bang on the Bay were also under review.)

“Prior to making a decision on a special event permit application, the director shall give written notice of the application to the owners and tenants of businesses and properties located within 100 feet of the proposed venue,” according to Municipal Code 7.50.020 (Section C). This part of the code applied to special event permit applications.

Kelsey provided the Sun with a copy of the section of the code.

“If the number of persons to whom notice would be delivered exceeds 200, then the director may instead provide the notice by placing an advertisement in a newspaper of general circulation,” according to the Municipal Code.

“The director shall give due consideration to any written comments received within five days of such notice,” according to the Municipal Code.