PrideFest perspective: Why you should want it to continue

Ian McCay, senior, engages in a dance-off with another student. The dance session and Mr. Leesville pageant were easily the most popular events.
Ian McCay, senior, engages in a dance-off with another student. The dance session and Mr. Leesville pageant were easily the most popular events.

Ian McCay, senior, engages in a dance-off with another student. The dance session and Mr. Leesville pageant were easily the most popular events.

As we all know last Friday March 21, was Leesville’s inaugural Pridefest. An event that was subject both to crazy hype on part of the administration and teachers, and tons of skepticism by the student body.

However, all of these boasts and criticisms by students and staff alike were completely theoretical. What was the first Pridefest actually like? That’s what I’m here to answer, and I believe I have perhaps one of the best perspectives possible to be tasked with answering this problem.

This is because of many things: for one as a member of Leesville’s Executive Council, I had engaged in all preparatory work many months before the actual event, from obtaining corporate sponsors, painting dozens of flyers and posters, as well as spreading the word during Pride Periods. I saw what went right, what went wrong, and what did and didn’t even end up happening during the planning.

Additionally, I also participated at Pridefest as one of the Contenders — meaning I was at the event from beginning to end, and I can assure you I was on my feet and doing everything possible the entire time.

With all of that in mind, here’s what I have to say about Leesville’s very first Pridefest 5.0. Let me be frank at first, then we’ll examine some numbers, and lastly I’ll revisit and explain my opinion.

The first Pridefest was a huge success, a total riot, and one of the best Friday nights I’ve had in a very long while. In my eyes, that’s a success.

In terms of the administration’s perspective, I have no idea. 147 tickets were sold by Thursday; however, tickets were also sold at the door, and students who participated could buy tickets after their event. So I am unaware of final numbers. Several key sponsors, such as PDQ and Savvi, supported the event and provided much of the necessary materials, food and formal wear, to cover a lot of cost. Financially speaking, it seems as if we’re in the black.

Lastly, the handling of the event was excellent. There were no hiccups in the infrastructure and things ran very smoothly.

That also applies to the preparation. Everything didn’t work out exactly as planned and some compromises had to be made in order for Pridefest to be a go, but overall we stayed consistent with the vision.

The teachers and staff who participated were excited to work and take part in the event.

This leads me to believe that the school also saw Pridefest as a success, and I would say the chances of a return next year are… high.

Suggestions I have for next year are limited, but if possible lower the ticket price; make $10 how much costs to get into the VIP lounge, as well consolidate slightly and cut some fat. The last event was a human chain and by that time most had gone home or simply weren’t participating.

More concentrated and more potent an experience is success with any event.

The most important thing to get right, that more or less was a colossal failure this year is scheduling. Originally Pridefest was only going to conflict with a couple of other events, but with all the snow days it ended up being on the same day as the chorus trip, orchestra trip, several sports games, and the SAT was even the next day. Obviously this was extreme weather, so the trend shouldn’t continue next year.

But you don’t care about any of that, as a student you want to know why I, a fellow student, thoroughly enjoyed my time at Pridefest.

It is my absolute philosophy that you reap what you sow and that something is only as fun as you make, and that’s true of Pridefest. I think that everyone there would agree, too.

For example during the big gym floor dance with the Leesville dance team, my favorite event, my friends  and I were jamming out having a total riot, meanwhile other kids were sitting in the bleachers or standing at the side on their phones.

Your criticism is hollow when you are the problem, not the event. The vast majority of students who were taking part, and all the ones I talked were seriously enjoying themselves.

There was an event for everyone –

  • A continued talent show where students like Ian Klug, junior, and Liz Farnham, senior, continued to jam out to songs that weren’t in the assembly.

  • The massive dance session that featured Leesville dance team and the  NC State cheerleaders, as well as a giant dance-off.

  • An 8 team 3-on-3 basketball tournament

  • A tug-of-war between newspaper and yearbook staff, where the winners faced NC State football/volleyball players (go newspaper!)

  • Lastly, the incredibly hilarious Mr. Leesville competition. Carter Herring took the cake for the senior class with his amazing performance of the Napoleon Dynamite dance.

However, what made all of these events so great was doing them with your friends, and if something was happening that you had no interest in you could hang out in the VIP area, talk, eat, watch the NCAA tournament and even enjoy the incredible weather with a quality game of cornhole.

It really was like a relaxed carnival with an all you can eat buffet lounge, and that’s the best way I think I can put it.

As an early adopter, I can honestly say with all sense of sincerity that Pridefest 5.0 was, while admittedly surprising, a great event.

Don’t let yourself be the greatest inhibition in your life. Life is all about experience and risk, I assure you it’s better than stagnation.

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