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Rockford Area Pride Committee Releases Lineup for Rockford's First Official Pride Parade

Rockford, IL May 13, 2024 - For Immediate Release. The anticipation builds as the Rockford Area Pride Committee proudly announces the lineup for the Rockford Area's First (official) Pride Parade, scheduled to step off at 11:00 am on June 1, 2024, in downtown Rockford, Illinois.

Before the festivities commence, at 10:45 am, the Committee welcomes Tom McNamara, Mayor of the City of Rockford, who will read the Pride Month Proclamation and deliver brief remarks. Afterwards, Representative Eric Sorenson (IL-17) will offer comments. Finally, Andrew J. Mertzenich, Chair of the Committee will give a short reflection and thanks to those who made Rockford's First Official Pride Parade possible. Speeches will be made from the mainstage, which will be located in front of Maze Books (406 E. State Street, Rockford IL 61104).

"We are thrilled to have over 50 units in our first pride parade," remarked Kelly Kulak, Chief Marshal of the Rockford Area Pride Committee. "We invite everyone to join us in marching through the streets of downtown Rockford in honor of the progress we continue to fight for."

The Parade's theme, "Celebrate, Remember, Unite!", encapsulates the spirit of the event, honoring the achievements of the LGBTQIA+ community, remembering those who have fought for equality, and uniting in solidarity for a brighter, more inclusive future.

To view the lineup, please visit, Visitors to the website can also view the parade route and learn more about Rockford Area Pride. More information on the Committee and its activities is available on the Committee's social media pages, Facebook and Instagram (@RockfordAreaPride). Press Inquiries may be directed to Phyllis Gallisath (Press Director) at

The Symbols of Rockford Area Pride

The Rockford Area Pride Committee has commissioned the official symbols of the 2024 Rockford Area Pride Parade. Parades and processions derive from ancient religious ceremonies in celebration of important events. Many times, the processional was the “public” event before royal baptisms or ecclesiastic ordinations. The “main event” was not for the public eye. However, to commemorate the event, each processional showcased to the public the instruments to be used in the ceremony and the people to take part therein.

Today, that tradition continues beyond the walls of such ancient ceremonies, and the Rockford Area Pride Committee has adopted particular symbols to demonstrate the parade's theme of "Celebrate + Remember + Unite" These symbols are the Bell, the Book, and the Torch.

The Celebration Bell

Bells have been used throughout history to mark significant events, announce celebrations, and bring communities together. The ringing of a bell is associated with joy, festivity, and communal gatherings, signaling the beginning or end of an important occasion. Bells also symbolize unity and harmony, as their sound reverberates through the air, bringing people together in shared moments of celebration and reflection. For the LGBTQIA+ Community, our bell symbolizes the fact that love and expression cannot, and should not, be silenced.

A picture of an engraved railroad-style bell on a wooden bass.
The Rockford Area Pride Celebration Bell

The official Rockford Area Pride Celebration Bell will be inaugurated at the 2024 Rockford Area Pride Parade. The bell weighs just over 30 pounds and was purchased to ensure that all who hear it know that Pride cannot be silenced.

Generously donated by local community members, Andrew J. Mertzenich (He/Him) and his spouse, Cody Skaggs (They/Them), the bell is a replica antique railroad bell engraved with the words, "Rockford Area Pride." Underneath, the parade slogan is also engraved, "Celebrate + Remember + Unite". The bell is fastened to a solid walnut wood pedestal with an additional engraved plaque on the front that reads:

Rockford Area Pride Committee

Inaugurated June 1, 2024

Let Pride Ring Out For All To Hear!

The Storybook

Books have long been symbols of knowledge, learning, and human civilization. They represent the accumulation and preservation of wisdom, history, and culture. Books also symbolize literacy and education, emphasizing the transformative power of reading and the written word in shaping individuals and societies. They allow us to learn from the past so that we can avoid repeating the mistakes of our forebears. By educating others, we can bring an end to prejudice and bigotry. Most importantly, books symbolize the importance of remembering our past, learning from it, and passing on knowledge to future generations.

The Rockford Area Pride Storybook is, and will continue to be, a chronicle of each Rockford Area Pride event, beginning with the 2024 Parade. The Committee has commissioned a local artist to create the book in the style of a medieval illuminated manuscript. Generally, it will chronicle notable events in the area (not limited to the annual parades) and enshrine the local history of the LGBTQIA+ movement in and around Rockford, Illinois.

The Unity Torch

The torch is commonly associated with illumination and guidance. The torch also represents unity and solidarity; as in the Olympic Games, where the torch relay symbolizes the passing of a common legacy from one generation to another and connects people across geographical and cultural boundaries, so too does this torch unite the LGBTQIA+ Community in solidarity and affirmation of its identity. The torch is the symbol of the guiding hope that unites us as we lead our movement onward into a better future.

The official Rockford Area Pride Unity Torch is a repurposed commemorative torch from the 1984 Olympic Games. Just as that flame symbolized unity among nations during the Olympic Games, it now symbolizes solidarity and togetherness within the LGBTQIA+ community. Despite diverse backgrounds, identities, and experiences, individuals within the LGBTQIA+ community come together under the banner of advocating for equal rights and acceptance. This torch now serves as a unifying emblem, reminding everyone that strength lies in unity, and together, they can overcome challenges and strive toward a more inclusive world where everyone can live authentically and without fear of discrimination and hate.

The Symbols will be on display at the mainstage area of the Parade.

Thank you Sponsors

The 2024 Rockford Area Pride Parade is presented by the City of Rockford and US Bank. The Rockford Area Pride Committee also thanks its generous sponsors for making the Parade possible. More information on sponsoring organizations can be found at


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