Mailchimp is one of the festival’s biggest sponsors, and the parade is our largest employee event. This year, we partnered with Shanée Benjamin, a Brooklyn-based illustrator and art director, to create our latest pride parade concept, “Shine On!”
Aside from her stunning work, one of the reasons we wanted to work with Shanée is because of her passion for creating community and connection through her art. In August, she met with members of our Pride ERG (Employee Resource Group) to learn about what queerness, community, and representation means to them and what message they want portrayed in the parade.
One of the common themes was Atlanta’s rich queer history. In 1969, one month after the Stonewall riot in New York, Atlanta had its own “Stonewall of the South” that started to mobilize the queer community here.
In the years that followed, Atlanta had its first Pride festival and parade. Around the same time, the legendary Rupaul was beginning his drag career in ATL, and Charis Books and More opened, which is now one of the oldest feminist bookstores in the country.
With help from our Design team, we took Shanée’s art and imagined how we would bring it to life in the parade. In addition to our float, our walkers—made up of more than 200 employees, friends, and family members—passed out stickers, koozies, fans, and enamel pins to parade attendees.
Since this year’s overall pride festival theme was “Show Up and Show Out,” we felt a certain pressure to outdo ourselves, especially since we won first place in the corporate category last year.
In addition to the float, we brought along the amazing DJ Aasha Adore, who did not disappoint. As our float made its way along the parade route, you could see people perk up as they heard her music. The vibes were excellent, and we’ve already started thinking about ways to level up again in 2024.
Shine on, indeed.