The augmented actuality tour explores the previous, current and way forward for Edmonton Delight

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Jenny Feniak Pride is hosting an augmented reality celebration for its 10 locations this year with QR codes that, when scanned, reveal virtual performers and presenters in that particular location, like here outside the Excelsior Lofts in downtown Edmonton. Pride is hosting an augmented reality celebration for its 10 locations this year with QR codes that, when scanned, reveal virtual performers and presenters in that particular location, like here outside the Excelsior Lofts in downtown Edmonton. Photo by Ed Kaiser /Postal media

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Breaking new ground is the norm for the LGBTQ2S + community. From historic achievements for equality to lifestyle and fashion choices, they have always worked to advance the vision of society.

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As the rest of the world has moved on to participating in virtual events, Edmonton’s Pride celebrations are kicking off in an area that goes a step beyond what we have adapted – augmented reality. As with all new ventures, it takes a little understanding and adaptation, but the 2021 Augmented Reality Pride Tour offers more than any other party.

Presented by the Fruit Loop Society of Alberta, a nonprofit founded in 2013 to raise awareness and fundraising for the LGBTQ2S + community and supportive organizations, the tour goes live tomorrow – for free – and can be done by anyone to be carried out anytime and anytime summer long.

Mac U. More, Panos, Tanner Steele, Lucian LaPearl and Shae Nanigans at the YMCA, one of 10 stops on the Augmented Reality Pride Tour 2021. Mac U. More, Panos, Tanner Steele, Lucian LaPearl and Shae Nanigans at the YMCA, one of 10 stops on the Augmented Reality Pride Tour 2021. Photo by Sean Thompson /Postal media

That’s on purpose, but as long as the codes stay active this tour could go on for years, making it less of an event and more a bogus, let alone fun, tool for learning more about the LGBTQ2S + community in Edmonton and celebrate them.

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“This is something we really want to work towards. Pride isn’t just a week or a weekend or a parade. It’s about a whole year of solidarity, celebration and struggle for better integration and progress in the LGBTQ2S + community, ”explains Joshua Wolchansky, Entertainment Director of Fruit Loop.

Unlike the usual loud and proud celebrations that mark the month of June with rainbow colors and loud dance parties, the augmented reality tour does a much better job of manifesting the reason for the Pride celebrations. First celebrated in Edmonton in 1980, Pride is designed to educate others and alert them to the efforts that have been made to create an inclusive and supportive space for LGBTQ2S + people and organizations in our society. Of course, when these profits were made, the celebratory parties and iconic parades broke out and took center stage.

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The AR Pride Tour, led by the alien-like teen Jesus Barbie, does a great job conveying Pride’s past, present and future while working on the colorful celebrations with music, dance and a proper drag race.

“Teen Jesus Barbie is an icon of the Edmonton drag community and was the original entertainment director of Fruit Loop. We are proud to bring her back for the Fruit Loop augmented reality tour and thank her for all of her contributions so far, ”says Wolchansky of his predecessor, aka Joshua Carter.

Easy scanning

Even if it’s a newer technology, accessing the augmented reality tour couldn’t be easier. The tour map shows 10 locations, each with a black and white QR code. These can be scanned by holding your phone’s camera over them as if you were taking a picture. Touching the automatically displayed link starts all the desired content, starting with the tour instructions from TJB.

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The physical tour route is an easy walk a handful of downtown blocks from 102 Street to 105 Street between Jasper Avenue and 104 Avenue, an area known as the Fruit Loop.

“The Fruit Loop was a historic route that historically included many queer-friendly locations in Edmonton,” says Wolchansky of the tour area. “But it also includes other important locations, including Beaver Hills Park, the Neon Museum, locations that have been captured over time and are of greater inclusive nature to the city.”

When you arrive at a tour stop, scan the appropriate code, hold up your phone to align with the area, and click the link. Entire scenes start immediately, and the first stop is Amiskwaskahegan (Beaver Hills Park) with Elder Edward Lavallee, including music and a hoop dance from Edmonton’s 2 Spirit Society.

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“This initiative took place on the territory of Treaty 6, on the land that has been tended and cared for by indigenous peoples since time immemorial, and on communities. Part of this initiative begins with a land recognition and cast from the Edmonton 2 Spirit Society. We really wanted to acknowledge that we are guests, that we are settlers on this land, ”says Wolchansky.

The past is also explored with a stop at the 2020 Health Workers Mural and Deborah Norris’ personal account of living with HIV. It is also given space under our government and of course stops at Michael Phair Park nearby.

“Pride is inherently political, it’s about coming together and getting involved,” says Wolchansky. “Edmonton City Council has only ever had two councilors, and we’ve never had a member of the LGBTQ2S + community preside over the mayor.”

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Pump up the paint

While that’s a fact, Fruit Loop is celebrating the advances made in that arena with a dance party on Alley of Lights that featured current MLAs David Shepherd and Janis Irwin.

And the party only continues from there with action and color from a total of more than 50 actors and presenters.

A drag race in front of the Excelsior Lofts in the city center is reminiscent of a popular event at the Flashback Nightclub, which used to be here. A drag race in front of the Excelsior Lofts in the city center is reminiscent of a popular event at the Flashback Nightclub, which used to be here. Photo by Ed Kaiser /Postal media

We won’t spoil all the surprises waiting to be discovered for you, but a highlight is the first-class drag race by Darrin Hagen, which ties in with the famous events in the Flashback Nightclub that once took place at this location. Watching Trevor Schmidt, Jake Tkaczyk and Jason Hardwick in action and cheering them on is a riot.

The cards are distributed for printing via social media channels; printed copies can be picked up in the Evolution Wonderlounge, 10220 103 St. The codes go live tomorrow and more details can be found here.

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