Alexandra Fox said she had dreamed of organizing a Columbus Pride Festival event in New Albany since she moved to the city four years ago.

Now Fox, a 42-year-old publicist, has made good on her plan.

The first Pride New Albany will be held from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday, June 6, at Mellow Mushroom, 260 Market St.

Pride New Albany is being presented by Foxwerx and the New Albany Chamber of Commerce, said Fox, who founded the event and is a partner at the Foxwerx marketing and advertising agency. Admission is free, and free parking is available near the restaurant, she said.

Cherie Nelson, chamber executive director, said the chamber is proud to be a part of the event.

"New Albany understands how diversity, inclusion and tolerance enriches our neighborhoods, schools and workplaces," she said. "We welcome everyone who wants to live, work or visit our community."

New Albany spokesman Scott McAfee said city leaders had a similar outlook.

"New Albany is an inclusive and accepting community, and this event is a way to celebrate diversity and equality here and throughout central Ohio," he said.

Stonewall Columbus, the LGBTQ organization that organizes the Columbus Pride Festival and Parade from June 14 to 16, has recognized Pride New Albany as an official Columbus Pride event, Fox said.

"This is just the beginning," she said.

The goal for this year, she said, was to "simply exist" and begin preparing for another event next year.

Fox described the event as an informal gathering.

Representatives from Stonewall Columbus and Equality Ohio will attend, she said, as well as students from New Albany High School.

Purple Dog Art Studio, a studio that offers art classes, summer and holiday art camps, workshops and parties for children at 28 S. High St. in New Albany, will have an interactive art project, she said.

Suzanne Fife, owner of Purple Dog Art Studio, said attendees would layer hearts on a large canvas to make a rainbow.

"I thought it would be exciting and necessary to come together as a community and show that we value inclusion," she said.

Fox said she and her family, husband Kevin and daughters Zara, 4, and Linley, 2 1/2, fell in love with New Albany when they arrived from Toronto, Canada. Prior to that, Fox had lived in the Short North in Columbus for 15 years, she said.

She said she and her family liked the diversity in New Albany.

"That deserves to be celebrated," she said.

Though Fox said being an ally to the LGBTQ community always has been important to her, she has had professional experience working as a public-relations consultant for Stonewall Columbus several years ago.

When she and her husband were married eight years ago, the couple donated to Equality Ohio, she said. The family also has attended the annual Stonewall Columbus Pride Festival and Parade, she said.

"The timing feels right" to hold a Pride event in New Albany, she said.

Sarah Shon, a math teacher at New Albany High School and adviser for the Sexuality and Gender Acceptance Club at the school, said Pride New Albany is a way to help the students in SAGA see they have other safe spaces.

The club meets after school weekly during the school year, Shon said.

Attendance varies, but more than a dozen students have met before, she said. Membership is kept anonymous in recognition of students who might not be out to their community, she said.

The club serves as an outlet to discuss current events and students' triumphs and challenges, Shon said.

Shon said Fox had reached out to see if SAGA club members would be interested in attending Pride New Albany. Some club members have made posters and flags for the event and are excited to attend, she said.

"These students are incredible, and they want more than anything to have a voice and feel like their voice is supported," Shon said.

SAGA club leader Riley Langdale, a 17-year-old senior who goes by Zafy Nightengale, said sometimes large Pride events can feel more about sponsorships or products instead of actual people.

"I can't speak for what the event organizers want to do in the future, but I'm hoping this event will center our community and community members," Nightengale said.

Another club member, Safia Mohan, a 17-year-old senior, said SAGA members are honored to participate in New Albany's Pride event.

"I think it's so important that New Albany has its own Pride," she said. "Pride month is always fun and supportive, and I'm glad we can bring a little piece of that into our local community."

ssole@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSarah