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Reflections on the Year and Anticipating the Return of Events



by Brian Hanley

2020 was an unprecedented year, and each day brought on new uncertainties. But, throughout all the ups and the downs, the afternoon of June 28, 2020 is a day that stands out in my mind the most. It was the date that the annual New York City Pride Parade was scheduled to take place, and it was an especially hot and humid summer afternoon in New York. During any year prior, the city’s streets would have been filled with thousands of supporters and proud members of the LGBTQIA community. But this year was different. There was no parade to march in; no large gatherings to attend; and no clear answer as to what the future of parades and events would look like.

I spent that afternoon walking all the way from the Upper West Side to the Stonewall Inn, and I recall feeling so many emotions. It had been months since I had seen many of my loved ones, and exciting weekends spent at parades, weddings and events seemed like a distant memory.

As I made my way downtown, so many thoughts ran through my mind. “Will there ever be a Pride parage again?”; “Will people even want to gather in groups once this all ends?” …The questions kept coming, but I did not have an answer to any of them.

As I arrived at the West Village, I immediately recognized the masked faces of my two friends, Andrew, and Kyle. Coincidentally, they had the same idea that afternoon to walk to Stonewall; a landmark that is so important to the history of the gay community. I had not seen them since before the pandemic, and since then, the two of them had become engaged. They joked when I congratulated them that Great Performances would plan them “the most extravagant wedding New York has ever seen” once state guidelines allowed for it. This was something they had repeatedly told me ever since they found out we catered Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent’s wedding; the first same-sex wedding to ever be held at the New York Public Library. I was thrilled for them, but those same questions I had during my walk popped up again; “Will wedding receptions even be a thing once this all ends?”

Throughout that afternoon, more masked faces began to appear along the streets. It was evident that everyone wanted to escape the apartments they had spent the past few months inside, and to embrace the weather. But, as the day progressed and I was about to begin my trek back uptown, the sun faded, and it began to rain. And not just a drizzle—it was torrential downpouring. Everyone on the street stood in their tracks, unsure on what to do. At the time, there was no indoor café or restaurants open to run into to take cover.

To my surprise, no one on the street ran, but instead broke out in dance. In an almost movie-like moment, Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande’s latest hit, “Rain on Me,” was playing from the Stonewall Inn’s speakers. You could see the pure joy in everyone’s eyes. For many, it was the first time they had danced in months.

It was then that my worries faded, and I knew the future of weddings and events was promising. People were craving togetherness, and in that moment, they felt it, even if only for a short time while they danced with their neighbors at a distance.

Today, almost a full year later, so many of the uncertainties that I worried about during that afternoon have been answered. Great Performances has an exciting spring and summer ahead filled with weddings and celebrations, and NYC Pride has announced that some in-person events will resume in 2021.

As a company we are looking forward to bringing our services back to your celebrations, and seeing the city come together again.

If you are planning a bridal shower, wedding ceremony or anniversary event, allow our planners to turn your dream into a reality. I, for one, cannot wait to plan the wedding that my two friends dreamed about during that special afternoon last June.