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Kevin Smith returns to NJ foru00a0Clerks III, ‘a movie about how much people hate working’

Kevin Smith returns to NJ foru00a0Clerks III, 'a movie about how much people hate working'


Kevin Smith is supposed to be here these days.

Smith, the Red Bank-born and Highlands-raised filmmaker, returns to his personal and professional roots with his latest movie, “Clerks III.”

The film will be presented in theaters nationwide by Fathom Events and Lionsgate 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 13 through Sunday, Sept. 18. Smith is also taking the film on the road for the “Convenience Tour” roadshow experience, launching Sunday, Sept. 4 at the Hackensack Meridian Health Theatre at the Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank.

His new release continues the story that made Smith an independent film sensation nearly 30 years ago, when the original “Clerks” (1994) introduced the world to jaded Quick Stop convenience store employees Dante Hicks (Brian O’Halloran) and Randal Graves (Jeff Anderson) along with their friendly neighborhood drug dealers Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Smith himself).

Back in 2006, Smith offered a poignant and satisfying full-circle conclusion with “Clerks II,” which found Dante and Randall taking charge of their place of employment from the original film in the Leonardo section of Middletown.

But Smith always knew there was more to the story, he told the Asbury Park Press.

“I’ve been trying to make ‘Clerks III’ almost since we wrapped ‘Clerks II,’” Smith said. Smith said he wanted to return to the sentiment of a now-classic jail cell scene in “Clerks II” where Randal cracks his veneer of snark. Smith called it “one of my favorite things I’ve ever done in a movie.”

“Randal shows his true heart for the first time, instead of just being acerbic or esoteric or a wisecracker he kind of lets it out,” Smith recounted. “He’s like, ‘I’d buy the Quick Stop and re-open it myself,’ it’s just a big moment for the character, it’s a big moment performance-wise for Jeff, and I was like, ‘I would love to spend a whole movie with that moment, that guy now.’”

After an earlier and far darker iteration of the screenplay featured Randal experiencing a post-superstorm Sandy nervous breakdown, the version of “Clerks III” arriving in theaters was informed by the massive heart attack Smith suffered in 2008.

“Clerks III” finds Randal, after experiencing a near-fatal heart attack, at work on an independent film about the quirks of life as a convenience store clerk. Smith famously created the original “Clerks” while working at the Quick Stop, and he decided to return to the View Askewniverse for “Jay and Silent Bob Reboot” after his own heart attack.

Smith and Randal both experienced the sort of dangerous heart attack doctors refer to as the “widow-maker,” and both of their life-saving doctors share the last name Ladenheim (Randal’s is played by Amy Sedaris of “BoJack Horseman” and “The Mandalorian.”) It’s all a continuation of the bond between Smith and Randal, a character he had originally written for himself to play.

“As we got closer to (filming ‘Clerks’), I was like, ‘I can’t memorize all this dialogue,’ so I went for the role with no dialogue whatsoever, Silent Bob,” Smith said. “But that’s why Randal has all the best jokes, because I wanted to be Randal. Thank God there was Jeff, and Jeff defines that character. So in a weird, small way I’ll never get to be Randal but now because of the story personally I did finally get to be the guy that I always wanted to be.”

While the film — Smith’s “Clerks III,” not Randal’s movie-within-the-movie — is rich with references to both View Askewniverse lore and Smith’s own life, the material remains broadly resonant.

“You can enjoy ‘Clerks’ just because it’s a workplace comedy, something that took me nearly 30 years to figure out. That’s why people connect with it,” Smith said. “I was always like, ‘How can this play outside of New Jersey? How can this play outside of Monmouth County? You only have to be from here to understand this.’

“And I didn’t realize that ‘Clerks’ is a movie about how much people hate working, and that’s universal. You don’t even have to do a retail job or work at a convenience store specifically to identify with two people, or anybody, trying to do anything but the job.”

Back to the scene

“Clerks III” is Smith’s first film since his debut to be entirely shot entirely in New Jersey, he said. By pulling up the original film on the HBO Max app on his phone for reference, Smith found himself composing shots to match those he’d filmed nearly three decades earlier, in the same locations and with the same actors. It was an experience that Smith compared to fantasy camp.

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“Within the movie, when they make their movie, it is unmistakably ‘Clerks.’” Smith said. “Part of the fun is you know their history by way of two movies, and the history that (Randal) decides to tell is literally the history from everything you’ve seen. So it’s a real best-of compilation, you get to see everybody.”

That “everybody” includes both famous View Askewniverse players returning for cameos — Ben Affleck, Justin Long and Rosario Dawson among them — as well as friends, family and former neighbors of Smith’s, including the cast of his AMC reality series “Comic Book Men” and three generations of his family.

That’s not to say that “Clerks III” is all cameos and in-jokes. It’s a story of aging, reflection and community that finds Smith trafficking in the same snarky-yet-wounded humanism that’s been the stock-in-trade for fellow New Jersey writers from George R.R. Martin to Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen to Brian Fallon of the Gaslight Anthem.

How to get tickets:Kevin Smith is taking new ‘Clerks III’ on the road

The original “Clerks” launched the View Askewniverse, which has since grown to include eight live-action films, a “Clerks” animated series, comic books and a video game. But “Clerks III” is shot through with melancholy nostalgia and a wistfulness not seen since “Clerks II,” the last time Dante and Randal were his stars.

“At the end of the day, I feel like when I get to play with these characters I throw a bit more into it, I care,” Smith said. “I’m deeply invested in their storyline.”

“Clerks III” will be presented by Fathom Events and Lionsgate in more than 700 cinemas across the country, 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 13 through Sunday, Sept. 18. For tickets and a full list of participating theaters, visit

Smith is also taking the film on the road for the “Convenience Tour” roadshow experience, launching 1:30 and 7 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 4 at the Hackensack Meridian Health Theatre at the Count Basie Center for the Arts, 99 Monmouth St., Red Bank. Other area dates include 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 7 at the Keswick Theatre in Glenside, Pennsylvania and 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 9 at the Beacon Theatre in New York City. For tickets and a full list of dates, visit

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Online cultural events can benefit lonely older people, study shows

We remember it all too well from the first lockdown. The obligatory weekly Zoom quizzes and the stream of cultural events held online.

While most of us can head down to the local pub again and delight in the return of good old Sunday quizzes, some people are still stuck at home. And research suggests online cultural activities such as museum tours can significantly improve the mental and physical health of elderly people who are homebound.

“Our study showed that art-based activity may be an effective intervention,” said Dr Olivier Beauchet, a professor at McGill University in Montreal and lead author of a study published in Frontiers in Medicine.

Social isolation and loneliness, which are often more acute in older people, are as bad for health as long-term illness and can lead to premature death. Successive lockdowns during the pandemic only made things worse.

Researchers suggest that just one virtual trip to the museum a week could foster social inclusion and improve the physical and mental wellbeing of seniors.

The team recruited 106 community-dwelling adults aged 65 and older to investigate the potential health benefits of art-based activities. Half of the participants attended weekly online museum tours followed by an informal discussion, while the other half did not participate in any cultural activities before or during the three-month study period.

The people who joined the visits recorded improved feelings of social inclusion, wellbeing and quality of life, as well as reduced physical frailty, compared with those who did not attend the guided tours.

More than 2 million people aged over 75 live alone in England, and more than a million say they sometimes go for more than a month without any social contact, according to the charity Age UK.

“This study shows that with adequate infrastructure, age-friendly access and technical support, digital technology can benefit the mental health and wellbeing of older people,” said Prof Yang Hu, of Lancaster University.

The necessary technical guidance is often lacking, however, which is why virtual contact left older people feeling lonelier than with no contact at all during the pandemic.

“Unfortunately, older people are often left to their own devices to navigate technology use,” Hu said. Unprepared and lengthened digital exposure could lead to stress and burnout in people who are not familiar with technology, he added.

Dr Snorri Rafnsson, of the University of West London, said:“With adequate support, the potential of scaling this kind of intervention up is great.”

Not everyone has access to online resources and activities, however. “There are huge barriers for older people living in the community – lack of internet, knowledge and support, financial issues and so on,” Rafnsson said. “Studies show that those who have family around them, and a supportive social network, are more likely to take up and use online technology.”

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Papal visit organizers say survivors will be given priority at Alberta events

Papal visit organizers say survivors will be given priority at Alberta events

Ed Upland, left, and Ashley Sparvier, right, work to make a medicine wheel garden at the Ermineskin Residential School memorial in Maskwacis, Alta., on June 27. The garden will have quarters of red, green, yellow and white flowers with an orange perimeter.Amber Bracken/for the Globe and Mail

With only 10 days to go until the first papal visit to Canada in 20 years, organizers of the papal visit are scrambling to prepare for his arrival as thousands of people expect to attend.

In Alberta – the first stop in the six-day tour beginning July 24 – organizers estimate up to 15,000 people will attend a public event at Maskwacis, home of four First Nations, located south of Edmonton. Another 25,000 are expected to participate at the pilgrimage at Lac Ste. Anne, said Shane Schreiber, assistant deputy minister for the government of Alberta, at an Edmonton press conference Thursday. A mass at Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium on July 26 has capacity for roughly 65,000 people.

Pope Francis’s visit, with the slogan “Walking Together,” will focus on healing and reconciliation with Indigenous people and the devastating legacy of the residential school system. The papal visit is also expected to draw thousands of practising Catholics from across the country. After arriving in Edmonton, the Pope will attend several events before travelling to Quebec City and ending his trip in Iqaluit.

Confirmation of the visit came six weeks after Pope Francis apologized at the Vatican on April 1 to almost 200 Indigenous delegates and survivors for abuses against children in the schools. Many survivors want to see the Pope issue a stronger apology when he is in Canada for the Catholic Church as a whole, rather than for the harms inflicted by individuals.

Ottawa commits more than $35-million for supports during Pope’s visit to Canada

The Catholic Church ran about 60 per cent of the government-run residential schools that operated for over a century and inflicted harms and abuse against Indigenous children. In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission called upon the Pope to apologize, in Canada, to survivors and their families for the abuses in the schools.

The Pope is expected to expand on his previous apology to residential school survivors at his first stop at the former Ermineskin Residential School in Maskwacis.

Anne Wildcat, the papal visit’s Maskwacis site co-ordinator, said organizers need to be mindful of emotions and trauma for survivors in their planning and logistics.

“This is really a solemn and emotional event, and so we’re trying to be very careful with our survivors, to ensure we have ample supports available at the event,” said Ms. Wildcat.

“We’re really hoping for the Holy Father’s visit is that it will be simple, meaningful and beautiful for those who will be able to view the events,” said Marion Haggarty-France, the papal visit’s Alberta sites co-ordinator, at the press conference.

Ms. Haggarty-France said they have had to plan the visit on a shorter than normal time frame. “Normally these events have years to plan for; we’ve had about four months,” Ms. Haggarty-France said.

The Alberta government is co-ordinating park and ride services for those who’ve registered for the events to help minimize traffic and is expecting temporary road closures and detours. Organizers are encouraging people to arrive early.

While organizers have assured several Indigenous communities that survivors will not be turned away from events, they said Thursday that capacity limits at each event will need to be taken into account. Prioritization will be given to survivors, particularly elders.

Ms. Wildcat said that Maskwacis is doing their best to manage expectations, capacity limits and safety, knowing a large number of people want to hear the apology in person. “We don’t want to turn anyone away, we don’t … specifically survivors, because this is for them and they’re our focus,” she said.

In Quebec City, organizers said last week that use of public transport is encouraged by anyone wishing to attend events there from July 27-29. Public viewing will be available on the Plains of Abraham, which has a capacity of 140,000 people. Indigenous survivors and their families will be given priority seating at all Quebec City events and the public viewing location.

The papal visit will cost Alberta between $10-million and $20-million, said Mr. Schreiber, amid infrastructure upgrades and road pavings.

The federal government said this week it will contribute more than $35-million during the visit to support survivors and Indigenous communities. This will include money for travel for survivors, community-led activities and translation of events in Indigenous languages.

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Tech events at a crossroads – go hybrid and include people, or go on-the-ground and exclude them

Tech events at a crossroads - go hybrid and include people, or go on-the-ground and exclude them

Tech event planners are an excitable bunch – and they are definitely excited about the return of on-the-ground events.

But there is a big problem. The lack of attention to hybrid structures is hurting these on-the-ground events – and undermining the so-called “customer success” these events supposedly cultivate.

So, event planners, once more with feeling: you can address this before fall events kick in. You can include (hybrid), or you can exclude – and hurt your brand.

Well into the summer, the entire diginomica team attended loads of on-the-ground events. We hit virtual shows. We also valiantly attempted (and mostly failed) to adequately cover on-the-ground events from afar. Alas, these events were not effective in their hybrid options – a missed opportunity all around.

Tiers of experience quality is not the way forward

I didn’t want to write this post. I’ve already made an impassioned case for why the future of events is imaginative, and hybrid. But riding the event circuit this spring, it dawned on me. Event planners were doing something they never intended: they weren’t just excluding people who couldn’t make it.

  • They were creating tiers of privileged access.
  • They were creating tiers of experience quality.

Those tiers were not even based on a calculated value of the individual from a “customer success” perspective. Instead, they were based on who was healthy enough, able enough, and willing to be on the ground again. The tiers were based on the inflexible standard of geographical proximity – even though international travel remains a Vaccine Economy beast, and a legit reason for staying home.

Event planners: are you sure you want to go this route?

Are you sure you want to do this, when the resources for carrying off effective (and inclusive) hybrid structures are plentiful?

I’ve had event planners justify their on-the-ground-only events by telling me: “We want to focus on the ground; our customer community really matters to us.

Why doesn’t agility apply to event structure and participation?

Now, this is not just about coronavirus, though in the context of fall events, the COVID news isn’t great. People will get sick at shows, but they will also get sick before a show – and be unable to attend yours. Or they may be hindered by budget. Or, they may be looking after an immuno-compromised family member. Or, like most media/analyst types I know: they are willing to go to some events, but they aren’t willing to live out of a suitcase anymore. Event attendance is a fortuitous thing; it should not be seen as a loyalty oath. Plenty of folks who care about your brand won’t be on site.

Here is the event reality going forward: some VIPs (including your own execs), are going to cancel last minute. Do you really want to exclude them because your hybrid structure isn’t robust enough? Where is all the happy talk we usually hear about agility?

Why doesn’t “agility” apply to event structure and participation?

Here’s the shame of it: more inclusive events aren’t Mount Everest. Yes, a comprehensively hybrid event is ambitious. But smaller aspects are not hard to pull off – nifty event features just require thoughtful design. Here is one simple/elegant example from Kinaxis – a handy toggle between on-the-ground, hybrid, and virtual sessions.

Maybe I’ve motivated a few event planners. Now I need to dispense with three objections:

  • No, your hybrid/virtual options won’t “cannibalize” your on-the-ground event. There are very few fence-sitting attendees out there. Either they want to see you in person, or they aren’t up for it. They aren’t waiting to see your virtual catalog before deciding.
  • No, you don’t have to break your budget with a hybrid event of massive scope. Apply some imagination, mix in some modest steps, and you are on the road to better events.
  • Yes, the hybrid/virtual technology is good enough. It will get better from here, but you don’t need a bells-and-whistles metaverse to get the job done.

The practical path to hybrid events – tips and highlights from the diginomica team

I have yet to see a completely effective hybrid event. But there’s a reason for that: I have a high standard for interactivity. For starters, there would need to be a highly-interactive VIP track (and yes, you could charge for that). And, you’d need to get a handle on interactivity in the context of live streams (and live streaming is where the technical hurdles increase). But you can move to hybrid event fluency with smaller steps. When I polled the diginomica team for their favorite hybrid features, they responded:

  • Q/A incorporates online attendees – “I’ve been at several live events where online attendees can submit questions online, and these are taken alongside questions from within the room. MACH Alliance did this last week.” (Phil)
  • Pre-recorded sessions, but live Q/A at the end – “There was one online event where the presentation was pre-recorded, but then the speakers came on for a live Q&A at the end.” (Phil)
  • Toggling between on-the-ground, hybrid and virtual sessions – as noted above, via Kinaxis (Jon)
  • Chat stream with the live keynote, or during a session – “If you have a highly engaged online audience, then a lively chat stream alongside the main presentation can work well, provided it’s properly moderated. I saw that from New Relic.” (Phil)
  • Downloadable slide decks and transcripts – a nice touch. “I attended a virtual event that had all sessions on demand, but alongside that had the transcripts and the slide decks available to download. Thought it was a helpful touch.” (Derek)

These are just a handful of ideas that worked. I’ve documented plenty of others – check The future of events is hybrid, but how do we get there? Tips and visuals with Paul Richards of HuddleCamHD (video and blog post).

The big takeaway? Small changes and creative tactics go a long way. Start with this baseline:  streaming only your keynotes isn’t a hybrid event, and go from there. You might start with just one live streamed stage for virtual attendees. I recommend streaming keynotes openly (no registration wall) to avoid tech difficulties, but have one or two additional levels of participation (example: a free registration tier for session replays, and a paid VIP virtual tier for an interactive online track).

Some event planners got too ambitious with the amount of online sessions. Logistical exhaustion and virtual event disillusion followed. Good approaches to hybrid events may be counterintuitive. Example: I don’t necessarily think all sessions should stream live. Quality customer sessions recorded in advance can be a valuable addition. Just label which sessions were recorded in advance, and which were not. Adding that live Q/A, or even a live session Q/A for the entire track, can supplement recordings nicely.

Hybrid and online events – gotchas to avoid

Now, for a few don’ts we’ve run into this season:

  1. It’s okay to hold a recording until a scheduled debut time, but once that session has aired, it’s ridiculous to then hold the recording back until after the event, or another later airtime. Once it airs, it should be replayable. I’ve had situations where I couldn’t replay a key part of a session I just watched because it disappeared, withheld for some delayed content dump.
  2. Many events hold back all their recordings until they can be issued in a replay batch a week or so after the event (perhaps for editing purposes). Big mistake. Hold back some if needed, but make sure there are good sessions for remote attendees to replay asap, on their own time. Don’t make them plan their lives around a session that only airs once. Don’t make them calculate overseas time zones (and don’t limit your online coverage to certain regions). Withholding sessions until a week after the event really throws a hitch into event coverage.
  3. Any sessions that air, whether on-the-ground or virtual, are considered public. They will be shared/discussed socially, and could be written about – perhaps on diginomica. If a session must be private, clearly label it is as such (example: a private product feedback session). You can’t take a public session back after it’s been written about; that’s not how the Internet works.
  4. Putting streaming keynotes behind registration walls is asking for technical breakdowns and trouble – don’t do it. (I’ve changed position on this issue; the combo of streaming and validating registration is too fragile). Stream on your Twitter, Twitch or YouTube channels, and don’t let your lead gen team throw a hissy fit. Tech problems with your keynote just aren’t worth it. They are other ways to obtain leads – embrace the challenge of creating a good enough virtual experience to earn those leads. Many who want to watch your keynotes aren’t prospects anyhow, and will just clog your database, resulting in annoying, time-wasting and inappropriate post-event outreach.

My take – radical inclusion is innovation

Up to this point, I’ve emphasized the practical side of event inclusion: allowing attendees who can’t get to this particular show to remain involved. But there is a more radical/innovative type of event inclusion; the creative event planners will be the ones to claim it. A local science fiction conference, Readercon, explained why they are taking the year off:

One of the few highlights of this global pandemic and the pivot to more online interactions has been the opportunity to welcome people who might otherwise have struggled to attend events like ours, whether due to accessibility barriers, financial barriers, or simple geography…

While we look forward to “going back to normal” in many respects, we don’t want to lose that increased inclusion, and so we’d like the Readercon of the (very near) future to be a hybrid physical and virtual event.

At a highly interactive virtual event, I met an attendee who is paralyzed from the neck down; he cannot travel to events. For the first time, he felt on a level playing field with other attendees (On that topic, I rarely attend virtual events where there isn’t some opportunity for live discussions. Sitting passively for hours watching talking heads, hoping they’ll answer my chat question doesn’t do it for me anymore).

I’ve also run into events that excluded people who aren’t “decision makers” or “budget holders” – even though those people wanted to bring larger teams. Are we sure that’s a good idea? When B2B decisions involve so many people across departments – even outside the organization – that needs a rethink also (Reaching enterprise buyers – why do B2B marketers fall short on the content that could help them the most?)

One more misconception to clear up: a great hybrid strategy doesn’t mean every event is hybrid.

  • Hybrid is about keeping an enterprise community vital throughout the year, not just at one major event.
  • In some cases, it’s better to hold a separate virtual event for those who can’t make it in person (example: analyst or VIP customer events, where you don’t want someone dialed in on speakerphone all day).
  • It’s about creatively taking advantage of content production, streaming, and replays – and fusing that with inclusive/interactive options.
  • As vendors get serious about going beyond streaming keynotes, they will need new skills, from event tech management to online moderation. But you can build those skills gradually, starting with existing platforms (e.g. Zoom), and your current community leaders (who already know a thing or two about moderation).
  • Very few event planners seem to reach out for any advice on these topics, or to find out about hybrid “best practices.” Perhaps they just want to go “back to normal,” so they charge ahead, using a legacy event playbook. After the event, during a debrief, they say things like “That would have been a really good idea.” We’re all still learning here – let’s put heads together beforehand, not after.

An effective hybrid strategy is about making those who contribute to your community feel included, whether or not they can attend. And yes, you should be able to tie that inclusion directly to lead conversion – and customer success metrics (digital events are pretty handy when it comes to opt-in data).

This isn’t a sour grapes post from someone who doesn’t want to get on a plane.  I picked up COVID this summer,  most likely at an event or traveling to and from, and yeah, it sucked. I still plan on attending in-person events this fall, though I’m not hesitant to wear a mask. To me, that’s about your personal risk tolerance, as we figure out the best way to live with all this.

A terrific in-person event is well worth our time, but we won’t make them all. Whether we engage virtually is really up to the creativity of the event planners.

Want more hybrid event tips? See: Want to limit the impact of your next event? Make sure your hybrid structure is bland or non-existent.

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Christmas in July events held for people impacted by Dec. tornadoes

Christmas in July events held for people impacted by Dec. tornadoes

KENTUCKY (WFIE) – It’s Christmas in July in parts of Kentucky.

Governor Andy Beshear and First Lady Britainy Beshear spent Monday in Bremen and Dawson Springs to bring Christmas cheer to those affected by the December tornadoes.

At least 100,000 toys, thousands of shoes, and gift cards were donated in December from the First Lady’s Christmas Toy Drive.

Monday, another portion of those items were given to those families.

With a visit from Santa Claus, food, and gifts, the Christmas in July event brought smiles to many Western Kentucky families.

”We think if we can stack up at least one good day after another, hopefully create so many good memories that will help them process that difficult night. And with the complexity and time it takes to rebuild, just a fun day with ice cream and funnel cakes for each of these kids, maybe a few gifts too,” said Gov. Beshear.

The Governor and First Lady say because of everyone’s generosity and donations, they were able to have Christmas celebrations back in December, but it’s even more exciting to also have a Christmas in July.

Copyright 2022 WFIE. All rights reserved.

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Funded events to attract 40,000 people to Ruapehu region

Funded events to attract 40,000 people to Ruapehu region

The nearly $450,000 of funding will be dispersed among six Ruapehu events, including the Raetihi Gutbuster. Photo / Supplied

Six events in Ruapehu have been awarded funding, predicted to attract over 40,000 people, with two-thirds being visitors from outside the region.

The Ruapehu event organisers will receive funding from a pool of nearly $450,000 over the next two to three years, following the announcement of a second tranche of funding from the Thermal Explorer Regional Events Fund.

A mixture of new and existing events will receive the funding, covering diverse interest areas of snow sports, trail running, cycling, music and culture.

The events are Tom Campbell Big Air, Ohakune Roots & Blues Festival, Kotahitanga Festival, Vertical Sky Waka Challenge, Raetihi Gutbuster and one other that is still to be confirmed.

A Ruapehu District Council spokesperson Kim Treen said in the past it was small groups of volunteers delivering Ruapehu events, and he was pleased they could receive this financial support over the next three years.

“The support allows the funded events to be developed, positioned and marketed to be or become an iconic or anchor event for the region, encouraging economic benefit and boosting capability in our events sector,” Treen said.

The Thermal Explorer Regional Events Fund was set up by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) to help support and provide new domestic visitor opportunities for the events and tourism sectors that have been severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The event organiser of Taumarunui’s Kotahitanga Festival Anahera Hose said they were grateful to be successful with the support to grow the festival into a strong regional proposition.

Thermal Explorer Event Investment Panel member Nicola Greenwell said they had held capability-building workshops and webinars for event organisers, and planned on expanding them as they focus on developing the events sector capability across the Thermal Explorer regions.

Greenwell said she encouraged event organisers to register their interest to receive notification of capability-building opportunities.

The Thermal Explorer Highway fund covers events in Rotorua, Taupō, Ruapehu, as well as Hamilton and the wider Waikato.

Upcoming events:
Tom Campbell Big Air – September 23-24, 2022
Ohakune Roots & Blues Festival – October 21, 2022
Vertical Sky Waka Challenge – 10-12 March, 2023
Raetihi Gutbuster 25 March, 2023

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Pride brings more than a million people to London – live

Pride brings more than a million people to London - live

Pride in London is returning to the capital for the first time since 2019, celebrating 50 years since the very first march took place in 1972.

More than one million people are expected to descend on the capital for the parade, which begins from 12pm on Saturday (2 July).

According to the organisers, 30,000 people have registered to join the march from more than 600 LGBT+ community groups.

The parade is an “opportunity for expression of celebration, joy and triumph but also the voice to rightly express the continued fight for those injustices and inequalities that exist among us,” Pride in London said.

Those marching today will be calling on the UK government to ban conversion therapy for all LGBT+ people, reform the Gender Recognition Act, and provide equal protection for LGBT+ communities against hate crime.

They are also calling for an end to “hostile environment towards minority migrants”, and for the establishment of a national Aids memorial to remember those who died during the HIV and Aids epidemic.

The Independent is the official publishing partner of Pride in London 2022.


Cast of Heartstopper spotted at Pride in London

The cast of Netflix teenage comedy-drama Heartstopper have been photographed taking part in the Pride in London parade.

The cast of Heartstopper (L-R) Kit Connor, Joe Locke, Tobie Donovan and Sebastian Croft attend Pride in London

(Getty Images)

The popular show’s stars, Joe Locke, Kit Connor, Tobie Donovan, Sebastian Croft, Kizzy Edgell, and Corinna Brown took pictures while smiling and sitting on one another’s backs, draped in LGBT+ flags.

The cast of Heartstopper (L-R) Joe Locke, Jenny Walser, Kit Connor, Sebastian Croft, Tobie Donovan, Corinna Brown and Kizzy Edgell attend Pride in London 2022

(Getty Images)

Heartstopper is a British coming-of-age series that follows a budding romance between Charlie Spring (Joe Locke) and Nick Nelson (Kit Connor), as they navigate coming out in high school.

Joe Locke attends Pride in London 2022

(Getty Images)


The Independent’s Voices team attends Pride in London

The Independent’s very own Voices team is at Pride in London.

Victoria Richards and Harriet Williamson are marching alongside other LGBT+ campaigners and activists, waving The Independent’s Pride flags as well as the Ukraine flag.


Crowds gather as Pride gets underway

Thousands of people have gathered in central London to show their support for LGBT+ people and watch the Pride in London parade as it gets underway.

Many have arrived decked out in rainbow-coloured clothing, accessories, hair colours and more, waving flags and cheering as marchers go past.


(Getty Images)



Sadiq Khan attends Pride in London

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has made an appearance at Pride in London, ahead of the parade.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan speaking to the media before the Pride in London parade


He said: “We’re back after the last two and a half years or so. This year is the 50th anniversary of Pride, celebrating this community, celebrating the progress made, but also continuing to campaign and never be complacent.

“We saw this time last week an attack in Oslo just hours before that parade, where two people lost their lives and more than 20 were injured.

“So, we’ve got to be conscious of the fact that there’s still a danger to this community of discrimination, bias and violence. But allies like me are really important to support this community.”

“I’m quite clear, we’re marching today for an open, inclusive accepting world. We’re marching today for those in Oslo, for those who haven’t made the progress we’ve made.

“We’re also marching today for love. I’m quite clear, here in this great city we should be a beacon of inclusiveness, of openness, but also a place where you can be free to be who you want to be and free to love who you want to love.”

Khan added that the Metropolitan Police have been “sensitive” over concerns about uniformed officers taking part in the parade.

“I think it’s really important that anybody who’s from the LGBT community should be able to take part in this parade,” he said.

“Clearly, the community does have concerns around policing, we saw with the Stephen Port investigation the concerns that arose from the inquest and from the families of the four men who lost their lives.

“I think the police have been sensitive to the issues raised by the community and there will be uniformed officers in and around Pride to make sure we’re all safe, to make sure this parade is a success.

“But, clearly, those taking part in the parade from the police service won’t be wearing the uniforms.”


Angela Rayner: ‘Pride is a protest but the story is love’

Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner has tweeted her support for Pride in London.

She posted a photograph of herself at a previous Pride parade, and said she is “looking forward” to this year’s event.


‘Being gay is a glitter’

Mohammed Nazir, 24, from Bangladesh, who is with campaign group Rainbows Across Borders, said he wanted to dedicate this year’s pride to those forced to still hide their sexuality.


He told the PA news agency: “Pride is about self-affirmation, dignity and equality. It is a way to meet some other LGBTQ people. Pride is a movement where we’re still fighting for our rights.”

He added: “It’s all of the people’s hard work and dedication that we are now not scared to express our true identity, but still there are so many countries where people are not able to express their true identity because of the country’s law, because of the government’s rule, or because of the cultures and disbelief.

“So, this Pride I would like to dedicate to those people who are still hiding their sexuality and I would like to send them a message that we didn’t choose to be gay, this is how we were born, and we should pride ourselves because being gay is a glitter, and if you hide your sexuality day by day you feel stress and you always feel a lack of confidence and lots of mental issues, and when you come out it will help you … be who you are.”


Berlin mosque becomes ‘first’ in Germany to fly rainbow flag for Pride

A mosque in Berlin has said that it is the first German mosque to fly the rainbow flag in support of LGBT+ communities, as Pride begins.

The Ibn Rushd-Goethe mosque, which claims to be the only “liberal” mosque in the country, unfurled the symbolic flag in front of a small audience on Friday (1 July).

Berlin’s culture senator Klaus Lederer and state chairman Kai Wegner were present for the ceremony, where attendees wore badges with the slogan: “Love is halal.”


In pictures: Pride marchers prepare for parade

The Pride in London parade will begin at 12pm, and many marchers are getting ready for the day of celebration, protest and solidarity ahead.

See photographs of volunteers and activists preparing to let their rainbow flags fly:

Veteran gay rights activists address the gathering during an event to mark fifty years since the first UK Pride March

(Getty Images)

Gay rights activist Lanah P poses for a photo

(Getty Images)

A gay rights activist attaches a new badge

(Getty Images)


(Getty Images)


Celebrity Gogglebox stars in tears watching Big Boys coming out scene for Pride special

The stars of Celebrity Gogglebox were left in tears after watching the coming out scene from Big Boys.

Friday (1 July) night’s episode of the Channel 4 series was a Pride special and saw a group of LGBTQ+ celebrities and their loved ones tune into the week’s biggest shows.

Our Culture Reporter Isobel Lewis has the story:


Over a million expected in London for first Pride march since pandemic began

More than a million people are expected to descend on the capital for Pride in London on Saturday.

It will be the first time the event has been held since the outbreak of the pandemic and is the 50th anniversary of the UK’s first ever Pride parade.

The event, which organisers are calling the “biggest and most inclusive event in history”, will also feature a line-up of artists performing across four stages around Central London.

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Police locate 2 people, vehicles of interest after Parliament Hill evacuation | CBC News

Police locate 2 people, vehicles of interest after Parliament Hill evacuation | CBC News

Ottawa police have located two people and two vehicles of interest related to the events that sparked street closures and an evacuation of Parliament Hill on Saturday afternoon. 

Local police worked with their policing partners to close the area around Parliament for a few hours on Saturday, while they investigated what they described as a “suspicious incident.” 

Wellington Street between Elgin Street and Bronson Avenue was closed for around three hours, as well as Metcalfe Street between Albert and Slater streets. 

Ottawa police said the investigation found there was no risk to public safety in a tweet. 

Heavily armed officers were stationed along roads leading to Wellington, with vehicles and police tape blocking access. 

At least some employees who work in the Parliamentary precinct received an email saying an ongoing operation is taking place to deal with a possible threat. 

“There has been a SHELTER IN PLACE order given for the Precinct, this entails no movements in or out of our buildings. Parliament Hill has been evacuated.”

Police are continuing to investigate. 

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‘We cannot wait for people to come’: local BIAs cheer return of in-person festivals and events | Ottawa Business Journal


With the first official day of summer around the corner, neighbourhoods across the city are coming to life, preparing for what residents and businesses hope marks a return to ‘‘normal”. 

For Ottawa’s central business improvement areas, the warm weather signals the highly anticipated return to in-person festivals and events that allow them to showcase and celebrate all that their local communities have to offer. 

“Collectively as downtown BIAs, we all agree that creating a sense of life and energy in the core is what we owe our businesses and our neighbours to get people excited again about the idea of being in public spaces together,” said Dennis Van Staalduinen, executive director of the Wellington West BIA.

OBJ reached out to some of Ottawa’s BIAs to find out what impact the return of in-person festivals and events for the first time in more than two years is having, or going to have, on their local member businesses and communities.

Wellington West BIA – WelliWow –  May – July 2022

Representing the interests of the eclectic Hintonburg and Wellington Village business communities, the Wellington West BIA has partnered with Ottawa-based community arts organization MASC to unveil a new kind of event experience that celebrates the intersection of culture, creativity and diversity this neighbourhood community is already known for.

The WelliWOW 2022 Performance Arts series will see outdoor arts and performance events popping up all around the Wellington West community, the plan being to animate local parks and public spaces and introduce a diverse range of artists and art forms.

The BIA hopes the free series will attract area residents, as well as encourage Ottawa-area or visiting art-lovers to stop by and see all that Wellington West has to offer.

“We are very intentional, trying to be as open and multicultural and as diverse an area as is humanly possible, because we believe that creativity, prosperity and great communities are built on diversity, with people meeting people who aren’t like them and then forming surprising partnerships and projects,” said Van Staalduinen.

Preston Street BIA – Italian Week Ottawa – June 9-19

The marquee event in the city’s Italian community social calendar, Italian Week Ottawa is Little Italy’s 10-day open invitation to come and celebrate all things Italian. Returning to the streets from June 9-19, Italian Week offers something for people of all ages. Visitors can enjoy live music, local artists, shopping and, of course, great food. 

Lindsay Childerhose, executive director of the Preston Street BIA, said members are incredibly optimistic and excited about the return of in-person events.

“The Italian Festival represents such an important opportunity to celebrate and to be on the street together. Celebration within the community is such a big part of the Italian culture, the spirit of ‘la vida bella,’” Childerhose said. 

“There has been a huge transformation in our neighbourhood, and many street improvements have been made to enhance the visitor experience. We cannot wait for people to come and see for themselves, to remind them that we are here, and to encourage them to shop and support local.”

Bank Street BIA – The Best of Times – June 18-19

Kicking off its summer festival season with a shake, rattle and roll, the Bank Street BIA is collaborating with Optimal Show Experience to offer a unique ticket-free event called The Best of Times. The event on June 18 and 19 will feature themed decorations, activities, sights and sounds from the ’50s to the ’90s, giving attendees a chance to step back in time. 

Whether folks are strapping on roller skates and going for a spin or just taking in the atmosphere, the main theme is fun and connection. Sabrina Lemay, the assistant director of the Bank Street BIA, stressed that while some of the BIA’s members are still getting their feet back under them and full recovery will take time, the return of live events has brought a feeling of excitement and optimism and is driving more foot traffic and tourism dollars to the area.

“When we did the Fire and Ice winter festival in February, we heard all our businesses say that they had an increase in sales,” Lemay explained. “We saw families in a different demographic on Bank Street than we’ve ever seen before, which goes to show the urgency to want get back out, and that connection that people have been missing that they want so badly.”

Sparks Street BIA – Ottawa Asian Fest – July 22-24

With Ottawa Ribfest done and dusted, the Sparks Street BIA is going full steam ahead on preparing for its next outdoor event, the Asian Night Market in July. According to Kevin McHale, the BIA’s executive director, the response to Ribfest from local foodies and BIA member businesses alike was fantastic.

“I heard from several restaurant owners that they had downtown business offices scheduling parties of 20 or 30 in a group to have their first staff events in person in years,” said McHale.

For the Sparks Street BIA, helping member businesses by getting foot traffic back in the area with events is critical to helping them recover not only from the economic effects of the pandemic, but also from the devastating impact of the trucker convoy occupation earlier this year. 

“We want residents to start thinking of us as their front yard, as a place where they come and hang out and relax and bring their friends here, a place to be proud of,” said McHale. “That’s a long term goal of ours, and we do that by creating a great space and great events.”