By Maria Rocha-Buschel
The Disability Pride Parade celebrated five years this past Sunday, with participants marching from Madison Square to Union Square on Broadway. The parade featured members of the disability community, as well as activists and advocates, marching in costume and decorated wheelchairs.
Jazz pianist Mike LeDonne created Disability Pride Day in 2012 in honor of his daughter, Mary, who has a rare syndrome called Prader-Willi. LeDonne ran Disability Pride NYC as a nonprofit for four years before organizing the first parade on July 12, 2015, the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The parade on Sunday culminated in a festival in Union Square with booths featuring representatives from local non-profits and various city agencies offering services to New Yorkers with disabilities. Representatives from the Department of Transportation were showcasing the agency’s newest program, which is surveying the city’s pedestrian ramps and corners and mid-block crossings and pedestrian islands. The agency is prioritizing the completion of pedestrian ramp installations and upgrades pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The MTA also had one of their newest buses on display, which MTA officials said are lower to the ground than previous buses, making them easier to board and disembark for people with disabilities.
Activist Nadina LaSpina was the parade’s grand marshal and also held a signing of her new memoir at the Union Square Barnes and Noble following the festival.
“Everyone thinks that our existence is so sad and everyone is wrong,” she said at the festival following the parade. “Having fun is a political act.”