Alki Beach Pride warms hearts with first clothing drive

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Lacey Pratt (l), Kayla Paredes (r), and Arthur's staff with clothes for pickup — Photo by Daniel Lindsley
Lacey Pratt (l), Kayla Paredes (r), and Arthur's staff with clothes for pickup — Photo by Daniel Lindsley

Alki Beach Pride (ABP) is taking its first step outside preparations for its next big event and into other kinds of community service, with a coat and clothing drive benefiting the Out of the Closet Thrift Store.

According to ABP board members Kayla "KP" Paredes and Lacey Pratt, what started with just two locations quickly expanded to seven. The Admiral Theatre, Arthur's, Harry's Beach House, the Lumber Yard Bar, Youngstown Coffee, Tibbetts United Methodist Church, and Ramone Myers Berkshire Hathaway are all drop-off locations.

"What's been great about the organization as a whole, that we've seen throughout the coat drive, is that people notice we're doing something, and they contact us to get involved," Paredes said. "Our reach is far beyond what we could've imagined when we started."

Flanked by potted plants and sipping coffee drinks, Paredes and Pratt spoke with me in the verdant Arthur's café and bar, during one of the duo's regular clothing pickups. They said they had been there only once, for a Seahawks game, but the coat drive meant they would be visiting more often, if for different reasons.

When she's not volunteering, Pratt is a nanny for a few West Seattle families. Paredes does web design "and redesign," and has helped ABP give its website a makeover.

Stacy Bass-Walden and Kayla Paredes take a selfie outside Cherry Consignment — Photo courtesy of Alki Beach Pride Kayla Paredes  

Alki Beach Pride began 25 years ago as a series of informal beach bonfires with friends and family. It was started by Stacy Bass-Walden, who would go on to co-found the larger, more official event. The pandemic put it on hold, but last summer, it made a big comeback.

"It's still really small," Pratt said of ABP. "It's only a handful of people who have been putting this together."

But like the Pride event itself, the coat drive is seeing the same upwelling of local grassroots support. West Seattle does, after all, have a reputation for being a popular spot for Queer couples to settle down.

"It's been an awesome turnout," Pratt said. Since starting on January 9, "we've had two of the places call with full bins. We had the Cherry Consignment reach out, just saying they had a donation they'd like for us to come pick up, so they donated two full bins as well."

Arthur's also had a full bin that Monday afternoon, plus an extra box about the size of a large ice chest, which a waiter said was brought in by a patron.

It's a no-brainer, then, that Out of the Closet will be well worth checking out after January 28, when the coat drive ends; at just a glance, the bins were full of good stuff, and Paredes and Pratt agreed.

"There are a lot of warm, comfy coats. There's bags, shoes, and belts, you name it," Paredes said.

"And I would say you get the best of both worlds," Pratt added. "You can make room in your closet, but then go and support [the AIDS Healthcare Foundation] by buying the clothes that are there."

Bins of clothes in storage — Photo courtesy of Alki Beach Pride Lacey Pratt, A full dropoff bin nestled into signage at Arthur's — Photo by Daniel Lindsley  

For the community, by the community
This year's drive might be ABP's first, but with any luck, it won't be its last.
"I feel like it probably should be [an annual event]," Paredes said. "It's already making a huge impact the first year."

For now though, most future plans are around the big Pride event in August.

"We're really hoping for good staging, good music, just events — things to do, things to learn," Pratt said.

"For the community, by the community, really," Paredes added. "I think it's huge, what Stacy's vision is: to get the community involved," and to "shout out Queer voices, Black voices, and minority voices."

In addition to that broad vision, the more specific impetus for the coat drive was Bass-Walden's late older brother, Carl Walden, who lost his life to AIDS in 2004 at the young age of 37. Working with Out of the Closet, and by extension the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, has been an opportunity to honor his memory.

As for Paredes and Pratt specifically, they've worked with small nonprofits before, like In Her Shoes, an international women's advocacy group based in California.

"Through that, we were like, 'What could we do that's more involved in our West Seattle community?'" Pratt said. And 'What could we do that's more involved with our LGBTQ community?' We wanted to build connections, and we wanted to build a community of people we'd see in town."

To find out more about Alki Beach Pride and how to get involved, visit https://www.alkibeachpride.org/. For updates, you can follow it on Instagram @alkibeachpride.