Credit: Nate Gowdy
If you've never taken your kids to the Seattle Pride parade in downtown Seattle, or PrideFest at Seattle Center — both Sunday, June 24 — you're missing out. Young kids will love the upbeat music and bright colors (not to mention motorcycles!), and older children and teens will have a chance to see all genders and sexualities in a way that's sure to spark important conversations.
But while Pride is always a great time, there are some secrets to surviving it with kids in tow. From the best spots to watch with young kids to how to enjoy a queer-centric event if you're a straight ally, here are five ways to get the most out of Pride with your kids.
1. Plan your perfect spot
The Pride parade snakes along Fourth Avenue in downtown Seattle, from Union Street north to Denny Way. If you plan on attending PrideFest at the Seattle Center directly after the parade, you'll save yourself a world of pain by watching the parade from a spot near the end of the parade route, closer to Denny.
If you plan to head home directly after the parade, Westlake Park is a great place to watch. There's easy access to portable toilets, Starbucks, food vendors and even an outdoor play area if your kids get bored and need a break. You can also purchase Pride-themed beads, balloons, flags and other trinkets near Westlake Park or from vendors along the parade route. Bring some cash for the vendors, and keep in mind that many of the parade participants will be throwing things like beads and sunglasses into the crowd so you might want to purchase other items instead.
And, as with any other activity with kids, bring all the snacks. A blanket or camping chair to sit on is helpful for young kids, as well as a bag in which to stash all the goodies they catch.
2. Get there early! Really, really early
No matter where you decide to stake out a spot from which to watch the parade, plan ahead. The parade begins at 11 a.m., but the best seats are gone by 10 a.m., so make sure you're there with time to spare.
Keep in mind that the parade route is closed for about 2.5 hours, so try to park on the side of Fourth Avenue that you'll be leaving from. No one wants to haul a cranky child back to the car only to discover that they're trapped downtown!
3. Be prepared for questions, so many questions
If your kids are young, they probably won't have many questions about the deeper meaning behind the event (although they're probably guaranteed to at least ask about why so many people are naked!). But for older kids and tweens who may have only a cursory understanding of ideas like a gender binary, be ready to entertain a whole lot of questions. It's okay if you don't know the all the answers, too.
Attending the Pride parade and other Pride events as a family is a great opportunity to spark broader conversations about sexuality and acceptance, but it always helps to have a few answers ready before the barrage of questions begins. For guidance, take a look at this Human Rights Campaign article (intended for educators but useful for parents) and this round-up of LGBTQ books to read with your family.
4. Be respectful — Pride isn't just a parade or a festival
If you want to bring your kids to Pride as a straight ally, that's great. But while part of Pride is just plain fun, it's also deeply rooted in a struggle for equal rights that has cost some people their lives. Don't make Pride about yourself as an ally, and make sure to talk to your kids in an age-appropriate way about the history of Pride and what they can do every day to support the cause.
5. Have fun!
There's a reason that the Pride parade and festivals are so popular with queer and straight families alike. In addition to an important message and history, it's also one heck of a party! Soak up the energy and excitement, and enjoy the opportunity to model acceptance and tolerance for your kids. Keep an open mind and have fun!
Seattle-area Pride events for 2018:
Saturday, June 9:
Volunteer Park Pride Festival — This arts, music and performance event was formerly called the Seattle Pride Picnic. Join the party for music, food trucks and non-profit booths, noon–7 p.m.
Saturday, June 23:
PrideFest Capitol Hill — This street party features lots of live music along Broadway and a beer garden for adults, from noon–9 p.m. and beyond.
Street Party at the Paramount — In honor of its 90th anniversary, the Paramount Theatre hosts a free outdoor celebration on 9th Avenue (between Pike and Pine) featuring a SassyBlack Pride showcase, performances by Northwest Tap Connection, Seattle Women's Steel Pan Project and more. All welcome; street party takes place 5–8 p.m.
Sunday, June 24:
Pride Parade — The parade starts at 11 a.m. at Fourth and Union in downtown Seattle and heads north along Fourth toward Denny Way. The parade lasts about 2.5 hours.
PrideFest — PrideFest takes place at Seattle Center from noon–8 p.m. The festival is free and open to the public.
Saturday, July 14:
Saturday, July 21:
Kitsap Pride 2018 in Bremerton
Editor's note: This article was originally published in 2017 and updated for 2018.