Pride event

Elisabeth Menning, left, and Amari Victoria are organizing the first NWI Pride event, scheduled for Saturday in Highland.

As Elisabeth Menning and Amari Victoria put the finishing touches on the first NWI Pride, they've also been planning another event of more personal significance.

The Crown Point couple plan to renew their vows during Saturday's Pride festival at Lincoln Center in Highland, and they won't be the only ones marking a life event.

"There's a couple that were going to get married next year," Menning said. They saw one of the (Facebook) posts where we were offering a wedding and they were very excited. ... They moved their wedding up and will be getting married (Saturday)."

The LaPorte couple's wedding and the renewal of vows between Menning and Victoria are scheduled for about 3 p.m.

What organizers are calling "a family-friendly, LGBTQ+ supportive event celebrating diversity and inclusion in the NWI Region" will run from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. A 21-and-over after-party is scheduled for 8-11:30 p.m., also at Lincoln Center.

Menning and Victoria have been heartened by the community response for the start-up event.

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"We've got over 70 vendors and 25 sponsors, including food and drink sponsors," Menning said.

There's also been an outpouring of support from those who want to boost the spirits of LGBTQ community members who may not have their own families in their corner.

"We have plenty of stand-in relatives (for the wedding)," Menning said. "People who saw the posts are coming out of the woodwork to be stand-in moms, dads, uncles, aunts."

Also on hand will be representatives of the Free Mom Hugs movement that takes part in Pride events around the country offering its namesake displays of affection.

Saturday's event is designed to offer a chance for the Region's LGBTQ community to come together, but Menning said that's not its only purpose.

"We're (also) trying to connect all the allies, we're trying to educate the public, we're trying to create a safe space, and we're trying to create visibility," Menning said.

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