Watertown’s first ever Pride Extravaganza to make colorful debut June 4

Parade to kick off daylong events at 11 a.m. at Watertown Free Public Library and Saltonstall Park


Adelle Sheynkman, Raider Times staff

Like most everything in this era of COVID, Boston Pride was canceled for the past two years, and won’t be coming back in 2022. In light of this, Watertown decided to fill this void by creating its first Pride Extravaganza on Saturday, June 4.

“Because Boston Pride dissolved, I really wanted [Watertown Pride] to be an inclusive, celebratory event,” says Cary Conkey-Finn, a librarian and the supervisor of teen services at the Watertown Free Public Library, who took it upon herself to organize this event, with some help from others. 

The daylong event will start with a parade at 11 a.m. with people gathering in front of the library. The procession will march to Saltonstall Park, with tuba player Zachariah Hickman leading the parade. Once there, the main bulk of the festival will take place until 4 p.m.

Stands will be set up, with music played by JP Honk, an activist band, as well as the Watertown School Of Rock. Various speakers will also be in attendance, such as Alli ShortForAllister, a drag king emcee, and Taj M. Smith, a black trans speaker. Even the GSAs from Watertown High School and Watertown Middle School will be participating, as well as the elementary schools’ diversity and belonging counselors. The middle school will be running an informational stand, while the high school will be fundraising by selling bracelets and T-shirts. 

“I’m really happy because there will be a lot of youth, teens, and tweens, just a lot of kids, and I’m really excited about that because they may have never been to a Pride before, and I’m just excited to uplift the community,” Conkey-Finn adds. “[Teenagers are] probably the most fluid, exciting population we have in the library.”

I’m really happy because there will be a lot of youth, teens, and tweens, just a lot of kids, and I’m really excited about that because they may have never been to a Pride before, and I’m just excited to uplift the community.


All in all, the team planning this endeavor is quite small.

“There’s six of us planning this together,” Conkey-Finn says. “It’s nice that we have such a fun part of our jobs. I’m just learning so many new things about how to run an event and work with lots of people and manage volunteers.

“It’s been fun to think of ways to make it inclusive, as many ways as we can. We’re trying to get American Sign Language interpreters for the stage, and we’re going to have the program information about the event in Braille.”

But, of course, they weren’t completely on their own. They also had the financial support of many organizations such as the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the City of Watertown Public Arts Committee, the Watertown Free Public Library itself, and many individual donors. Working together, all these people and groups have managed to throw together something truly exciting.

“Organizing this has brought so many groups together,” says Conkey-Finn, “and that just makes us stronger. I think it’s really going to help us go forward when we plan other events like this.

Conkey-Finn has set some goals for the event. 

“Quantitatively [my goal for this event] would be hundreds of people,” says Conkey-Finn. “Qualitatively I’d like it to be a place where people who don’t understand or think they don’t know people who are queer gain a greater understanding and apreciation for people in this community. I hope that people have a lot of fun, especially after the pandemic has kept us inside so long. 

“I want it to be a party. I think mainly, I want to support the community. I want to make sure LGBTQ+ people know they’re a part of Watertown and that we celebrate them.”

The event will provide a good place for everyone to get involved and learn more. There is information about donations on the library website, as well as lists of other events taking place during the month of June.

(Watertown Pride Extravaganza, Saturday, June 4, Watertown Free Public Library and Saltonstall Park. For information: https://www.watertownlib.org/644/Watertown-Pride.)

–June 2, 2022–