From its beginning as a small gathering of people at Fairhaven Park in 1999, Bellingham Pride has grown into the second largest pride event in Washington. Bellingham Pride weekend started Friday, July 7, and will go through Sunday, July 9, when the parade will make its way through downtown to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community in Bellingham and the surrounding area. Jordan Neyens, a senior at Western studying public relations and theater, is the executive director of Bellingham Pride, a nonprofit organization in Bellingham. According to the organization’s website, it hosts festivals, parades and youth events throughout the area while creating a safe environment for the LGBTQ+ community. Neyens said as Bellingham Pride has gotten bigger, the organization has been able to do more with the event, and has been expanding what it is able to do for the community and accessibility, especially financial accessibility. All of the events hosted directly by Bellingham Pride are free, he said. The first event of Pride Weekend was the Pride Dance on Friday, July 7 from 8:30-11:30 p.m. The event was sponsored by Bellingham Pride, Whatcom County PFLAG and Make.Shift Art Space, where the dance was held. Neyens said the Pride Dance was for all ages and an opportunity for up-and-coming drag queens to perform in an open space. On Saturday, July 8, Bellingham Pride will host a family picnic from noon to 3 p.m. “The family picnic is a potluck that is put on by Bellingham Pride. We’re going to be barbecuing burgers, veggie dogs, regular hot dogs and all that good stuff at Maritime Heritage Park,” Neyens said. “It's a good opportunity for families to come out and celebrate Pride Weekend in a more family-friendly setting.” HomeSkillet, a local restaurant and sponsor of Bellingham Pride, will be hosting a Pride Breakfast from 8-11:30 a.m. Sunday, July 9, on the day of the parade and festival. The restaurant is owned by husband and wife duo Kirby and Tina White, and it will be the second year the restaurant has hosted the breakfast, Tina White said. “It was a last minute thing last year and it went so well,” White said. “It immediately had that feeling of tradition.” During last year's Pride Breakfast, the restaurant donated over $2,500 to Bellingham Pride, despite there being no suggested donation. “People were just that generous,” White said. White said when deciding to become a sponsor, she and her husband wondered why not everybody sponsored Bellingham Pride. It's their community, she said, and they’ve been supported by the community forever and HomeSkillet wants to give back and be a good ally.