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July 2 , 2010

Rain can’t dampen Youngstown’s first Pride parade

Youngstown’s inaugural Pride Parade marched on Federal Street on June 5, with rain dampening the festival but not the spirit of the event.

Scheduled performers, led by RuPaul's Drag Race contender Shannell, included Amanda Beagle, Beth Farrow, Kelly McKraken, Marquesse Shine, Mazhorell Johnson, Nikita Jones, Raymond Morgan, the Rust Belt Theater Players, Sterling Anderson and True Colors.

The festival, which was free of charge, also hosted a variety of food and merchandise vendors.

Organizer Anita Davis estimated the crowd at 1,300 people.

“We were hoping to pull about 2,000, but all things considered we were thrilled at how many came, and kept coming throughout the day,” Davis said. “Especially at the beginning, the street was packed, there were people everywhere.”

“One of the local urban radio stations gave us some coverage, and the festival was the subject of a call-in show,” she continued. “The comments were mostly positive.”

“We had a dunking booth at the festival, it was a donation provided by the Mahoning County Democratic Party. The chairman, attorney David Betras, even volunteered to be the ‘dunkee,’ ” Davis recalled. “It was a blast. I put him in the water three times in a row. It’s not every day that a cop gets to soak a lawyer.”

A community picnic, scheduled for noon on June 6, was canceled due to weather and will be rescheduled later in the summer.

“It was too bad that the picnic had to be canceled,” organizer Carlos Rivera said. “We woke up Sunday morning with news of tornados in the area. We will reschedule it for the end of July or middle of August.”

“We have several other events planned before the end of the year, some educational, some fundraisers, all fun,” he continued.

Next year, organizers hope to have a main stage and satellite stages, instead of just the one stage, one performer at a time. It may also be the final Youngstown Pride festival for Davis, Rivera and co-chair Kim Akins.

“Our plan with the festival was to get it off the ground, make sure it was stable, and to move on to other things within Pride Youngstown,” Davis said. “So we plan to go out with a bang so far as the festival is concerned.”

For more information, visit http://www.prideyoungstown.org.

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