For the third year in a row Crystal Springs has had an entry in the City of Bothell Fourth of July parade.
The tradition began in 2016, following the shooting at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, FL. We recognized that years of dehumanizing and demonizing the LGBT community still had very real, very violent consequences. We also recognized that many of the voices expressing such hatred were claiming to do so in God’s name. As followers of Christ, we felt that someone should step up and say something. And, though we had never done anything like this, we realized: WE are somebody.
So, with our entry of “Imagine Peace for ALL People” we rose our voices – in signs and rainbow flags – to proclaim a message of peace and inclusion. We invited our friends and neighbors. The first year we were a group of Christians, Jews, Atheists and Agnostics, marching for peace and inclusion.
It was a little scary – a few of our “Peace Walkers” were sure we’d be booed. We walked anyway. No one booed. There were cheers, applause and high-fives. Spectators asked if they could have one of our a rainbow flags. We ended up giving away almost everything we’d brought.
The next year, feeling the rising tensions in the country, we marched again: “United as Neighbors.” We carried signs proclaiming welcome and love for all manner of neighbors. We had even more friends and neighbors marching beside us. Two spectators got up from the crowd to ask if they could march with us. “Of course!”
This year, we marched under the banner “Love Thy Neighbor (no exceptions apply).” Over 50 peace walkers from the Crystal Springs and Woodland Park congregations together with our friends and family walked to promote love, peace and inclusion. And, again, two spectators leaped up out of the crowd to march with us. We shared candy, flags, and again, our signs.
Every year, I marvel as the cheers get louder when our group passes. My heart swells as spectators mouth, “Thank you!” Or when complete strangers ask if they can take photos with us or with our signs. As the world gets more and more tribal, more and more “shouty,” I think it’s important to step out and proclaim love, welcome and inclusion.
I hope to see you all at the parade next year!