Relentlessly optimistic as he is, even Dan Brooks couldn’t have fathomed what New Hope Celebrates’ PrideFest would ascend to when he founded the nonprofit in 2002. Prior to the pandemic, the annual weekend-long affair drew more than 15,000 people, many of whom stayed at the local B&Bs and filled restaurants and shops on both sides of the Delaware in between events.
Beyond the boon to business, PrideFest has become a beacon of inclusivity at a time when many parts of the country are regressing on that front. In 2019, the last PrideFest that was held because of the pandemic, crowds ran 10-people deep in many spots along the parade route. On that idyllic spring morning, among rainbows of all shapes and sizes and with smiles in every direction, I felt a sense of belonging in a way I never had before.
Many aspects of life have changed dramatically since that day. Throughout much of it, I kept thinking, I can’t wait to get back to that feeling. The opportunity will finally arrive May 21, when PrideFest returns.
Meanwhile, New Hope Celebrates has continued to flourish, hosting pride-minded events large and small year-round, in many ways filling the void left by the closure of The Raven, The Cartwheel, and Prelude. Also aiding in the effort is New Hope Celebrates History, which Brooks co-founded in 2010 and continues to oversee.
On the eve of PrideFest, we asked Brooks, who splits his time between New Hope and Brooklyn, how he spends his Sundays in New Hope.
“Sundays in New Hope are always super special to me because there are so many possibilities,” Brooks says.
MEDITATION I wake up around 8 AM. Breakfast is yogurt with granola I buy in the city and cut fruit or berries from Soulberry Natural Market. Sunday mornings are for catching up on some reading. I’ll drink a couple of large mugs of coffee while doing that. My go-tos include: Bucks County Magazine, River Towns magazine, the Bucks County Herald. I usually have one of the Sunday morning news shows on in the background. Around 11 AM, I head over to St. Martin of Tours Roman Catholic Church for mass.
LOCALLY MADE I grab a quick lunch at The Borscht Belt before running over to Tropic Tanning for a little self-care. I usually reserve part of my afternoon for checking out a local art exhibit. Recently, I’ve seen the Phillips’ Mill Photographic Exhibition and the Keith Haring retrospective at the Michener Museum. I also visited The Mercantile, which was hosting the Doylestown Art League’s 62nd annual Spring Art Show.
Locally-owned and -operated, The Mercantile is a reimagined department store that sells things made by local artisans. I saw the show and did a little shopping, which included a stop at Staples next door for office supplies.
SERENITY NOW Back in New Hope, I head for my “secret” spot: Thompson-Neely House and Farmstead at Washington Crossing Historic Park.
The river’s on one side and the canal’s on the other, which makes this little oasis particularly picturesque and serene. I’ve been coming here for years. Sometimes I’m walking my dog. Other times I’m hiking by myself or riding my bike or simply sitting quietly, taking it all in.
CALORIES OUT, CALORIES IN Around 4 PM, I hit Cornerstone for an upper body workout. When I’m done, I do some grocery shopping for dinner next door at McCaffrey’s. Today I buy fresh Jersey tomatoes, peppers of every color, shitake mushrooms, and an onion for a pasta sauce, which I make when I get home while watching the documentary Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain. As far as I’m concerned, garlic is non-negotiable when it comes to pasta sauce. I’ve already got some at home. I chop, fry, and simmer it.
ADMIN After dinner, I write the agenda for tomorrow’s New Hope Celebrates History monthly meeting and share it with my 10 committee members. We’re co-sponsoring “Blast from the Past – New Hope’s Ultimate Reunion Party,” which will be held May 22 as part of PrideFest weekend. Many New Hope mainstays are returning for the occasion. We’re going to digitize some of their old photos of New Hope and post them here, along with their oral histories.
CHECKING IN I wind down by scanning The New York Times or social media. I’m always tempted to turn on CNN, but I’ve learned that has the opposite effect. And I try to get to sleep at a decent hour because I need to be up for an early-morning spin class at Cornerstone. After that, I catch a train in Trenton, NJ, that takes me back to New York. My first appointment – I work as a psychotherapist – is usually at 1 PM. I very much enjoy what I do and where I live during the week, but my weekends in New Hope are sacred to me.