Provincial grant enables free bus service to Pride London Festival, which kicks off July 20

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There’s nothing like a free ride to boost your Pride.

Thanks to a grant from the Ontario150 program, area communities will enjoy free bus service to the Pride London Festival, which kicks off its 11-day run at various city venues July 20. And that could be just the ticket to bringing in more revellers from Dorchester, Ingersoll, St. Thomas, Strathroy, West Lorne and Woodstock, organizers say.

Sharing and expanding a sense of community has been a key part of the annual LGBT festival, which has grown from a small gathering in Gibbons Park in 1981 into a large, increasingly diverse and inclusive celebration including an outdoor bash in Victoria Park and colourful parade down Queens Avenue.

“(The festival is) important for so many reasons,” said fest president Andrew Rosser. “It’s about a sense of community, belonging and educating people about various aspects of the LGBT community.”

Rosser said that in some cities or towns, there may not be large LGBT communities, so people can feel isolated. This event is a way to get people out to a larger Southwestern Ontario centre and help them connect with others.

“It’s very important that we reach out to small communities, because that’s where we can make a big impact,” said Rosser.

In recent years, Rosser said, many people have called for opening up the festival to nearby areas, but funding wasn’t available. Now, with the province’s sesquicentennial support, they have the chance to try it and see what happens.

“We’ve been growing,” said Rosser. “We feel we can support these communities and this grant will help do that.”

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What: Pride London Festival

When: July 20-30

Where: Various venues in London, event details found at

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Drag Queen Story Time at Central Children’s Library, 251 Dundas St., 2 p.m. July 22

RBC Run with Pride at Wonderland Gardens, 285 Wonderland Rd. S., 9 a.m. July 23

Pride Spotlight Party: Circus, featuring Roxxxy Andrews from RuPaul’s Drag Race, at DoubleTree by Hilton, 300 King St., 9 p.m.-2 a.m. July 29

Outdoor festival in Victoria Park, July 28-30

Pride Parade, Queens Avenue, 12:30 p.m. July 30

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