Dallas Pride Expected to Draw 45,000
Final plans are underway and the weather is forecasted to cooperate for the 28th annual Pride Parade and Festival in Dallas on Sunday, Sept. 18.
After a record-breaking summer in terms of days with temperatures topping 100 degrees, a somewhat cooler high in the low 90s over the weekend is likely to be welcomed.
The Pride Parade and Festival is one of the largest in the South, helped by the fact it takes place in September and not during Pride month in June. Without competition from Pride festivals in other cities, Dallas is able to attract visitors from across the region and even the country. Michael Doughman, executive director of the Dallas Tavern Guild, which sponsors the event, said that many people who used to live in the Metroplex as well as friends from San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and Chicago make their way to Dallas each year for a second dose of Pride.
Those attending the events will notice some changes.
Most controversial has been the decision to fence off Lee Park, the site of the festival, and charge a $5 admission fee. Doughman said the Guild decided to fence off Lee Park because the city of Dallas is moving towards having all public events enclosed in order to help control the sale of alcohol. He said the fencing is a security issues.
Costs associated with the parade and festival has also been on the rise, and they prompted the Guild to charge an admissions fee. Doughman explained that when he became involved with the planning of the Pride Weekend in 2001, the cost for the events roughly $40,000. These costs are between $135,000 and $140,000.
"The main goal of the Tavern Guild is to raise money for our beneficiary organizations," said Doughman. "It made no sense to work 10 or 11 months on an event and not have anything to show for it."
Reasons for the increase include the need to have almost 100 police officers present, compared with just 34 in 2001. The Homeland Security Act also comes into play and the need for additional side street closures and barricades. Other requirements now mandate the use of city EMT’s rather than private companies.
Despite the changes, attendance at this year’s event is expected to rival previous events. Up to 45,000 people attend the parade, with an additional 8,000 at the festival.
The festival will include The Bright, Ciao Bella, Gary Floyd and Band, Mi Diva Loca and Caz Marie. Featured speakers include Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns and English rugby player Ben Cohen.
Doughman said the changes also help to make the event more family-friendly. While there is no dress requirement, all the musical acts are g-rated and increased control of alcohol is expected to limit some of the effects of heavy alcohol consumption.
Beyond the parade and festival, the weekend and beyond is filled with other events. These include Gay Day at Six Flags on Saturday, Sept. 17, gay Bingo, events at various night clubs and a lecture on gay and lesbians throughout history at the Cathedral of Hope. (A complete listing of events are at www.dallastavernguild.org/OtherEvents.asp.)
The parade begins at 2 p.m. on Sunday and the festival is open from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. Beneficiaries of this year’s Pride Parade and Festival are Legacy Counseling Center, AIDS Arms, AIDS Interfaith Network, AIDS Services of Dallas and Youth First Texas.