Portage Bay Cafe family and friends came out to support the 44th annual Seattle Pride Parade this past Sunday, June 24th, with a custom float built by employees of the Seattle-based farm-to-table company.
Starting downtown at Cherry and James around 1 p.m., Portage Bay staff and volunteers made their way down 4th avenue with a soundtrack that included Calvin Harris, Carly Rae Jepsen, and a host of other upbeat, dance and electronic music to enliven the atmosphere. Along the way, the Portage Bay team handed out fresh, locally sourced strawberries topped with homemade whipped cream to parade attendees.
This was the first year Portage Bay participated in the Seattle Pride Parade, which lasted about four hours and ended near the Seattle center. Front-of-house manager Joseph Kosten, who headed the planning and building of the float, said that it was decided that the business would be taking part in the celebration in the spring.
While planning the logo and theme for the float, Kosten thought it would be best to stick with the sea-centric aesthetic of the café, which led to boat cut-outs, multicolored unisuits, and decorative oars becoming defining characteristics. Especially important to Kosten during the earliest phases of the project, though, was celebrating the trans community.
“I have so many trans friends in Seattle, and what I hear over and over again is that they feel underrepresented,” he said. “So we wrapped the boat in fabric to look like a trans flag, and on top of that we put: ‘Portage Gays, Proud Because We Give a Damn.’ My intention with that was to give a little visibility to our trans family and let them know that we love and support them because we give lots of damns about them.”
Kosten said the project ultimately took between four and five weeks to complete. Three days were dedicated to building the physical float, while the weeks leading up to production were spent brainstorming, supply shopping, finding donors, and more.
While planning and building the float, Kosten was struck by how the project brought people together. Employees across the company’s four locations do not see each other very often, so the process fostered greater cohesion within the establishment. For Kosten, it was especially exciting to see new connections forming, as well as seeing some individuals come out of their shells in the process.
“I think that our participation in this year’s parade helped those people step out of their comfort zones, and see that there is so much acceptance, love, and happiness to be had within this big LGBTQ family,” he said, adding that he appreciates getting to work with a supportive and inclusive business.
Kosten is looking forward to participating in Pride next year — and is already thinking about ways to improve in the future.
“This was our first year doing this, so there was definitely a learning curve involved,” he said. “Next year, I’m looking forward to having the experience of doing a parade float, but also to taking our creativity to the next level.”