The inspiration for SaMo Pride, Downtown Santa Monica’s first Pride celebration came from an unexpected source—their holiday lights. During the 2018 holiday season, they installed a rainbow of colored lights overhead on one block of the Santa Monica Promenade, and called it “Rainbow Road.” Mackenzie Carter, the director of marketing and communication for Downtown Santa Monica, recalls, “People absolutely loved it. They were stopping to take pictures of it, lying on the ground to take pictures of it, doing crazy selfie stuff and taking pictures… It really looked amazing.”
Downtown Santa Monica had been looking for a way to get involved in Pride, and when they saw how people reacted to the rainbow of lights, they decided to bring it back for Pride month. When the Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica Place, and the city manager’s office expressed interest in being involved, the idea grew into a larger project, now called “Miles of Pride.”
From June 1 to June 30, Carter says, “The Miles of Pride light installation will light up the sky in a rainbow of color every single night. You can walk down the Promenade, through Santa Monica Place, and down the Pier, feel the love in the air, and take the time to be a part of Pride.” The overhead rainbow will run all three blocks of the Promenade, from Wilshire to Broadway. Santa Monica Place is decorating their palm trees, and the bridge on the Santa Monica Pier will be lit in a rainbow wash of color.
Artist Phil America has created colored flags containing quotes from people in the LGBTQ+ community that will fly on the Promenade. America says, “The flags are part of a much larger project called Colors of Progress that I’m working on with an art producer named Tre Borden.” June 28 marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, and they created Colors of Progress as a way to honor that while also bringing attention to people in the LGBTQ+ community who continue to be marginalized. Colors of Progress flags will also be on display at Sacramento Pride—both the artist and producer are originally from Sacramento, L.A. Pride in West Hollywood, and three locations in New York City for World Pride.
In addition to the month-long lighting and flag installations, SaMo Pride includes an online event calendar packed with local events that celebrate the LGBTQ+ community. Carter says, “We have gone out to the businesses and people of Santa Monica and said, ‘This is SaMo Pride, this is what it’s all about. If you want to do something during the month of June, let us know, and we’ll put it on the calendar.’” They had a huge response. If you’re looking for fun activities in Santa Monica this June, the SaMo Pride calendar is a great place to start.
Signature SaMo PRIDE events and experiences during the month of June include:
Miles of Pride
June 1 – June 30 from Sundown to Sunrise
Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica Place and Santa Monica Pier
The world-famous Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica Place and the iconic Santa Monica Pier will be lit up with all the colors of the rainbow throughout the month of June with the “Miles of Pride” light installation spanning miles of city streets.
Colors of Progress
June 1 – June 30
Third Street Promenade
“Colors of Progress” is an art installation by artist Phil America, created in partnership with Tre Borden/Co and Downtown Santa Monica, Inc., that will present a visual oral history of the LGBTQ+ movement and will be displayed at Pride festivals around the U.S. When fully installed, hundreds of colored, hand-painted flags with quotes from members of the LGBTQ+ community about their histories, futures, loves, hopes and dreams will hang above the Third Street Promenade. The art installation will culminate at the WorldPride | Stonewall 50 celebration in New York. The flags are inspired by the protest signs from the historic Stonewall Riots which were used to spread a powerful, important message that changed the course of history. Fifty years ago, the Stonewall Riots took place in the West Village in New York City. This act of retaliation and demand for respect sparked the LGBT movement, leading to increased equality around the world.
Saturday, June 1 from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Santa Monica Pier Deck
Smorgasburg is “The Woodstock of Eating” and one of the largest open-air food markets in the country. With more than 90 food and shopping vendors, a beer garden, live DJs and more, Smorgasburg welcomes thousands of guests per week year-round. Smorgasburg returns to the Pier, along with special programming, decor and treats, for the SaMo PRIDE kick-off.
Kids Club with Twinkle Time
Wednesday, June 5 at 11 a.m.
Santa Monica Place, Third Level Dining Deck
June Kids Club will feature interactive activities and a performance by award-winning kindie music performer, Twinkle Time, who will sing her hit song, “It’s Ok to be Me.” This song is all about acceptance and inclusivity, encouraging kids to accept every person, color, and race.
Frank DeCaro and Pandora Boxx present Drag!
Wednesday, June 5 at 7 p.m.
MLK Jr Auditorium, Main Library
601 Santa Monica Blvd.
Author Frank DeCaro, in conversation with special guest Pandora Boxx, celebrates Pride with the release of his new book, “Drag! Combing Through the Big Wigs of Show Business,” an irreverent look at the history of drag queens, and their impact on pop culture and politics. A book sale and signing will follow.
Live Music under “Lanterns of Love”
Thursdays, June 6, 13, 20 and 27 from 3 – 6 p.m.
Santa Monica Place, Center Plaza
Santa Monica Place presents free live music every Thursday evening in June under “Lanterns of Love;” an overhead colored lantern installation that spans across Center Plaza in celebration of SaMo Pride. Commemorative Pride bandanas will be given away to guests in Center Plaza. For the full list of musical performances visit https://www.santamonicaplace.com/Events.
House Aquatic Happy Hour Pop-ups
Fridays & Saturdays, June 14, 15, 28 and 29 from 8 p.m. – Midnight
Santa Monica Pier Aquarium
Tickets: $45, benefiting Heal the Bay
In celebration of Santa Monica’s first ever Pride, the Santa Monica Pier is delighted to introduce Happy Hour Agency’s House Aquatic, a colorful mash-up inspired by the childlike fantasy of “Pee-wee’s Playhouse” and the grandiose decadence of Ball culture. Guests are invited to an immersive, sensory experience with specialty themed cocktails and performances.
West Coast Rising: Gay Liberation In the Golden State
Saturday, June 15 at 3 p.m.
MLK Jr Auditorium, Main Library
601 Santa Monica Blvd.
Celebrate Pride with a special screening of six short documentary films exploring the early days of the Gay Liberation movement in Southern California. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with filmmaker Gregorio Davila, as well as a preview of his upcoming feature length documentary “L.A. A Queer History.”
Pride on the Promenade Festival
Saturday, June 15 from 3 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Third Street Promenade
Celebrate the LGBTQ+ community with live theatre and musical performances, a DJ dance party, youth art project, games, Instagrammable moments, LGBTQ+ resource center, food, drinks and a signature SaMo PRIDE moment.
Cinema on the Street: “Love, Simon”
Friday, June 28 from 8 p.m. – 10 p.m.
North end of Third Street Promenade near Wilshire Blvd.
Enjoy a special outdoor screening of the award-winning film, “Love, Simon,” based on the novel “Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda” by Becky Albertalli. The teen comedy drama follows 17-year-old Simon Spier as he navigates coming out to his friends and family while falling in love with an anonymous classmate he met online. Resolving both issues proves hilarious, terrifying and life-changing. Rated PG-13.
For more information, sign up for the SaMo PRIDE newsletter and view of full calendar of events at smpride.com.