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Weekend-long Columbus Pride is the largest ever
Columbus--A change of venue and a different weekend for a trademark event would seem great hardships for most organizations. For Stonewall Columbus, it simply presented the opportunity to make Columbus Pride bigger and better than ever.
Traditionally, the Columbus Pride festival takes place in Bicentennial Park, wedged between South Front Street and the Scioto River. The parade steps off from Goodale Park and wends its way through downtown Columbus to the park.
This year, however, the park is under construction, so organizers flipped the route, ending the parade at Goodale after stepping off from the Statehouse.
The move to Goodale also required a date change, since ComFest takes place on the fourth weekend in June, the traditional time for Columbus Pride.
Stonewall Columbus estimates 180,000 people came out to enjoy two days of music on Friday and Saturday, incorporating the traditional festival and Rockin’ in the Streets, and adding a second stage.
Last-minute would-be vendors were to be disappointed this year: all the tables were booked well in advance.
Stonewall Columbus executive director Karla Rothan was thrilled with the weekend.
“We had a great two days,” she said. “It was very successful at the new venue.”
“All reports indicate that everyone wants us to keep it there because they had such a great time,” she continued.
Rothan sang the praises of headliner Kat DeLuna, who has performed at the White Party and other LGBT events.
“She put on one heckuva show,” Rothan said. “She did not disappoint.”
In addition the second stage and another day of music, they also introduced carnival games this year, including jousting and a mechanical bull.
At the rally before the parade step-off, a number of politicians spoke to express their support.
“We had lots of politicians talking about how they feel about our community and how they want to work for equality in our city and, of course, Ohio,” Rothan said.
The parade itself was a golden moment, with far fewer protesters than in most previous years and greater participation.
“It was the longest and largest it has ever been,” said Rothan, adding that it was the “largest in Columbus history.”
Saturday’s parade was so well-attended that even the Columbus Dispatch took notice, pointing to large numbers of LGBT and supportive families.
Reporter Marla Matzer Rose noted a half-dozen churches with contingents in the parade, along with Old Lesbians Organizing for Change and a group from the Kaleidoscope Youth Center.
“We’ve been in the parade for the last six years, and we’ve had increased participation as society has changed,” executive director Angie Wellman told her.
The organization will take the recommendations of attendees to heart; next year, Columbus Pride will stay on the third weekend in Goodale Park, no longer in competition with ComFest. The event will be on June 18-20, 2010.
Rothan has been in contact with Cleveland Pride board president Todd Saporito, who is working to get Cleveland’s festivities moved to the fourth Saturday next year.
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