New Hope Celebrates — 15 years in the making
When you think of New Hope, Pa., and Lambertville, N.J., you can picture the sleepy river towns idyllically situated along the banks of the Delaware River. Locals and visitors stroll across the bridge, watching ducks and the occasional swan paddling by. Residents and visitors alike are always in awe of the natural beauty. But there is something much deeper to New Hope and Lambertville, something that you will experience when meeting the people who call this area home.
“I think… if it is true that there are as many minds as there are heads, then there are as many kinds of love as there are hearts.”
― Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina
New Hope: embracing everyone
New Hope has long been an attraction for artists. In 1898, impressionist painter William Lathrop moved here and started the art colony of New Hope. A long line of artists would follow, bringing along their paintbrushes and diversity.
When the Bucks County Playhouse opened in 1939, it brought many Broadway and Hollywood stars to town. People flocked to New Hope, proximate to both New York and Philadelphia, and bought summer homes. Many fell in love with the area and stayed.
With only 1.42 square miles, New Hope is huge on embracing everyone. During the 1970s a myriad of gay nightclubs opened. The town became known for its acceptance of everyone, including the gay community. A new organization began in 2003 to encourage that acceptance. Now known as New Hope Celebrates, it is committed to preserving that acceptance and inclusiveness. The mission statement says, “New Hope Celebrates brings people together to share in a celebration of our history, diversity and the inclusiveness of our community.”
New Hope Celebrates was founded by Dan Brooks, who was a resident of both New York and New Hope. It started as a way to promote tourism and serve the LGBT community. New Hope Celebrates has achieved that, and so much more said Brooks. As an all-volunteer organization, they are now celebrating their 15th Anniversary!
“Ask anyone who has experienced the ‘New Hope vibe’ and they are quick to get a smile on their face, a gleam in their eyes,” said Brooks. He spoke about the diversity of New Hope saying, “…and get ready to hear a story or two about amazing adventures in the diverse little town where anything and everything is possible.”
For over 200 years, and even prior with the peaceful Lenape Native Americans, the area has been known for its unified and kaleidoscopic population. Despite the influx of futuristic modernization, New Hope and its environs remain fundamentally steadfast in a commitment to a unilateral acceptance of all and a celebration of the past, said Brooks, all this while embracing the present. “It’s a rare community. And that uniqueness is felt by residents as well as visitors from all over the world.”
The annual LGBT Pride Parade and Celebration is in late May every year
New Hope Celebrates hosts its annual Gay Pride Parade at the end of May each year. The Parade has over 15,000 in attendance in the last few years. It is the only LGBT Pride parade to cross state lines. It starts in Lambertville and marches across the iconic bridge into Pennsylvania. New Hope’s “sister” town of Lambertville shares in the values of promoting diversity. Lambertville has been named one of the friendliest LGBT destinations by Fun New Jersey and held one of the first same-sex marriage ceremonies in the state.
“New Hope is special because of our community of acceptance and welcoming spirit,” said Matt Hanson, president of New Hope Celebrates. “New Hope is a place for LGBT people to live, work, and visit because of our great support, focus, and excitement around diversity. The name of the town also makes our town special because people can create hope in our town for the future. I love New Hope because growing up it was a place I could be myself and come out without being worried about people judging who I am. It’s special to me because we celebrate each other and have a community where we can be ourselves. New Hope is growing and so is the wonderful LGBT populace.”
New Hope Celebrates’ vision states, “As a voice for our local LGBT community we strive to achieve our vision where society is free of prejudice, discrimination and hate, within our community, and across our borders.”
In today’s world filled with so much division, New Hope and Lambertville continue to show the world how it can and should be done.