Hundreds of people celebrated love and equality this weekend in Huntington. The city hosted its annual Pride Picnic on Saturday in support of the LGBT community. 

This year marked the second Pride Picnic, but already the event has seen growth.

“When I saw how big the crowd was, I just got big chill bumps,” said Huntington Mayor Steve Williams. “But this is Huntington. This is a welcoming, inclusive, loving community and it demonstrates that.”

Families and people of all ages came out to support the LGBT community and celebrate equality. 

“It’s great to have a place that everybody can get together and just be open,” said Justin Murdock, co-chair of the Mayor’s LGBT Advisory Committee. “Sometimes you might not want to wear a big rainbow on your head walking down the street on a normal day, but you can come out here, you can be who you are and you can be out and proud.”

That’s a message the City of Huntington has been encouraging the last couple years, by recognizing businesses that are “Open to All” diversity, creating the LGBT Advisory Committee, and showing support with collaborative events like the Pride Picnic. 

“Here we are, with beautiful weather today, celebrating equality, diversity and love, and who can’t stand by those things,” said Matt Jarvis, who served the last two years as Marshall’s first openly gay Student Body President. “So whenever we see the city coming together, having a board for this, having a Mayor, a University President and all these entities that are celebrating with us today, I think it really highlights the dedication Huntington has for diversity.”

Huntington is proud of where it stands in support of equality, but the LGBT community knows the city must continue developing new initiatives and moving forward.

“There’s always progress to be made,” said Jarvis. “I think complacency is a big killer in a lot of communities, but one thing that’s really special and unique about Huntington is they’re able to look at the problems we have. It’s easy to be a problem identifier, but we’ve taken that step to be a problem solver.”

Before the picnic, Marshall also hosted its inaugural Rainbow Run on Saturday morning to kick off Huntington’s pride weekend.