Two years ago, one brave woman decided to set the wheels in motion for Wagga’s first-ever Mardi Gras. 

It was a massive success with more than 10,000 people filling the main street and gardens for the parade and after-party. But, in a heartbreaking decision the organiser Holly Conroy decided to cancel the 2020 event due to public safety as the coronavirus pandemic spread throughout Australia. 

Ms Conroy, however, as a proud trans woman refused to let that get her down and is already looking to the future. 

After locking in a date for the 2021 event, she reminisced on how the town and herself have changed since that very first parade. 

“Wagga has changed a lot in the past couple of years as well, but I think in many ways it has always been open,” Ms Conroy said. “The stereotype of Wagga and country areas makes people think it is not welcoming, but the Mardi Gras has shown that country people can be open-minded and accepting.” 

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 When Ms Conroy first started organising the Wagga chapter of the iconic event, she was her own biggest sceptic. 

She said that part of her did not believe she had the “smarts” or the strength to pull it off but persevered anyway. 

“I learnt that I am a lot more resilient than what I ever gave myself credit for,” Ms Conroy said.

“Since starting the first Mardi Gras I have started my own company, I drive my truck full-time time, I am in the process of becoming a marriage celebrant, and I still play sport. 

“I have just found that it has opened up a lot of doors for me.” 

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 Since that first event, Ms Conroy won the Community Hero Award at ACON’s Honour Awards and was also a finalist nominee for the NSW Woman of the Year Award. 

“I could never have imagined where I would end up,” she said. 

Ms Conroy said she is in full organising mode, getting ready for “Wagga’s biggest party.” 

“We are excited to announce that we will back in 2021,” she said. “It means a lot to be able to get the event back, especially with everything that has happened this year; people need something to look forward to.”

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 Ms Conroy fondly holds onto the memory of first parading down the street to the cheers and applause of thousands of people. 

The 2021 Wagga Mardi Gras will take place on March 13, with a parade down Baylis Street and an after-party at the Victory Memorial Gardens. 

Ms Conroy said they are taking precautions, but she is cautiously optimistic the event will be able to go ahead. 

“Next year will be as big as 2020 was meant to be!”

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