Mayoral milestone at Duluth-Superior Pride eventThe mayor’s reception of the Duluth-Superior Pride festival used to be a one-mayor affair. But that changed Thursday night.
The mayor’s reception of the Duluth-Superior Pride festival used to be a one-mayor affair.
Since the reception began in 2005, it was attended only by Duluth mayors: first Herb Bergson and now Don Ness.
But that changed Thursday night when the mayors of Two Harbors, Cloquet and, perhaps most significantly, Superior arrived to show their support of the event.
Former Superior Mayor David Ross turned down previous invitations even though some of the biggest events — such as the Pride Parade and the drag show — are held in Superior.
“In the past, we haven’t even gotten a response from him,” said Pride Fest co-chairman David Vipond.
At Thursday’s reception, a presentation with the history of Duluth-Superior Pride featured a quote from Ross that was featured in the News Tribune on Aug. 31, 2004.
“I disagree with the lifestyle,” he said when discussing why he wouldn’t endorse the festival. “They are insisting we recognize them and insist we redefine family as something other than a mom and a dad. Recognizing gay pride will only further their cause.”
New Mayor Bruce Hagen’s attendance at this year’s reception at the Depot was significant, said Boomer Hudacek, an assistant treasurer for the festival.
“We went from a mayor who was prejudiced against us to having a mayor who’s open and accepting of everyone,” he said.
For his part, Hagen downplayed going to the reception and said it never crossed his mind it would have an impact.
“I go to receptions any time I’m asked and I’m available,” he said.
Bruce Ahlgren, the mayor of Cloquet, said he felt it was important to support the festival and other mayors.
“What’s good for Duluth is good for Cloquet. What’s good for Cloquet is good for Two Harbors,” he said.
The idea to invite Hagen and other area mayors was Jeff Anderson’s, a Duluth city councilor who is running for the 8th District congressional seat.
“I think it’s a sign that mayors and local elected officials see the impact this particular weekend has on the community,” Anderson said. “Not just in the economic impact, but it also shows to outstate Minnesota and Wisconsin we are welcoming communities.”
In addition to inviting Ahlgren and Two Harbors Mayor Randy Bolen, Anderson said he also invited Proctor Mayor David Brenna and Hermantown Mayor Wayne Boucher. Anderson, who sponsored the reception, said Brenna had a prior commitment and Boucher did not respond.