La Crosse center hosts sixth annual week-long PRiDE celebration

Past winners from 'So You Think You Can Drag' Courtesy of The Center

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WEAU)-- The Center: 7 Rivers LGBTQ Connection is hosting their sixth annual week-long pride celebration.

The facility has been open since 2004 and provides various programs and services to LGBTQ people and their allies.

"We have both a middle school and a high school youth group, we have groups for parents and families, we have groups to support our transgender community," said Alesha Schandelmeier, the Executive Director of The Center.

The celebration kicked off Saturday with PRiDE at the park and continued Sunday with a picnic. The events continue throughout the week and include Monday's community night and Tuesday's movie night.

It all leads up to Friday's 'So You Think You Can Drag' show. Last year the event sold 600 tickets and this year, they're looking to surpass that.

"It is just a fantastic experience of all kinds of drag performances, music, entertainment," Schandelmeier said. " I mean you name it there is something for everybody. There is no one that leaves without a smile on their face."

One of the celebration's goals is to educate the area on the LGBTQ community, but they also use the week as a way to highlight and support other charities.

"Our main goal is to give back to the greater community. We’re accepting donations for the Hamilton’s helping hands little pantry for Hamilton Elementary school," said Schandelmeier.

Organizers say that PRiDE celebration week isn't just for members in the LGBTQ community, but for everyone in La Crosse.

"We are all here in this together to promote understanding and education and basically everybody just wants to live their life and be happy," Schandelmeier said.

Alesha has been at the center for eight years and has created memories throughout. However, one in particular stands out as a favorite.

"We had a local family attend our picnic for the first time," Schandelmeier said. "A child who had just come out to their family was able to feel like they were really accepted and welcomed at an event and said it was monumental."

Tickets for Friday's 'So You Think You Can Drag' show are still on sale and start at $20.