Cars lined the street as more than 250 people of all ages, sporting rainbow hats, flags, capes, jewelry and more, gathered at Southside Park on Saturday to celebrate during Tyler Area Gays’ inaugural Pride in the Park event.

Upbeat music played over a loudspeaker and free hot dogs and hamburgers were given out potluck-style as attendees mingled, shopped and relaxed under the trees.

There were over 40 vendors. The venue included professional mermaids, counselors, artists, church organizations, bounce houses and more.

Tyler Area Gays Chair Caroline Sanchez said TAG hosted the first Tyler pride event to encourage people in the community to celebrate who they are.

“There’s a lot of silent people here that wanted to have unity and community, and to bring people around and say that it’s OK to be who you are and celebrate with us,” she said.

Troy Carlyle, founder of TAG, started hosting small picnics for LGBTQ persons in Tyler after sensing a need for community in 2008. He’s watched the organization grow over the years and expressed his excitement to see hundreds of people participate in Pride in the Park.

“It’s very exciting to see all these people out here,” he said.

Tyler Area Gays hosts a game night, open to the public, the last Saturday of every month at 6 p.m. in the Genecov Room at the Tyler Area Chamber of Commerce building.

For more information about TAG, visit Tyler Area Gays on Facebook or tylerareagays.com.

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