Pride dumps Montrose for downtown parade

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The big gay Houston LGBT Pride Festival is moving downtown in 2015 after more than three decades in Montrose, Pride Houston officials announced on Wednesday.

The Pride festival will shift to McKinney and Walker streets, Tranquility Park and Hermann Square and surround City Hall, while the parade will step off on Walker at Milam and proceed along Smith Street and Andrews. Pride officials said they made the move to grab more space and provide better access.

As an organization, Pride Houston and its activities have grown over the past decade, space is required that will allow for additional growth, increased safety of attendees and greater participation by all members of Houston and its outlying areas. A location shift will meet the needs of the growing Festival and Parade to create new and exciting activities for attendees while providing opportunities to leverage other events to commemorate the history of Montrose. Commemorating the Stonewall Riots and the unique history that Houston has played in the LGBT movement will continue to be a priority of the organization and the foundation that will define our community’s future.

Pride Houston President Frankie Quijano said the move downtown allows the festival and attendees to stretch out and enjoy more space, according to the Houston Chronicle.

“Pride Houston has outgrown the space required to produce quality activities associated with the Houston LGBT Pride Celebration,” Pride Houston president Frankie Quijano said. “Downtown is already host to many successful annual festivals and parades. The downtown location also ensures greater access to parking, public transportation, hotels, emergency personnel and other facilities within walking distance of the celebration.”

Pride officials said the new location will offer an expanded Family Fun Zone, the addition of a second entertainment stage, free bleachers and possibly closing fireworks. But the shift downtown won't impact the gay fabulousness of the parade, the people or the hunks that take part, they said. Pride Week is scheduled for June 13-21 with the parade on June 20.

The area where it takes place might have changed but the essence of the Pride Celebration has not. The “Gay Day of Days” is still a day for all walks of life to come out and showcase who they are in whatever form that may be. For one (1) day out of 365 you can feel free to be who you are in a safe environment. Pride Houston works hard with the local Houston Police Department along with other city offices to ensure that the Houston LGBT Pride Celebration is one that we can all feel safe to attend. So dust off your wig, heels, costumes and clothes and prepare for the 4th largest Pride Celebration in the US.

Mayor Annise Parker said in August that shifting the parade downtown makes sense logistically. But she added that she would support the parade whatever its location.

Ahead of Wednesday's announcement, Pride officials met privately with several gay bar owners, according to About Magazine. The group included owners from South Beach and JR's, F Bar, Crocker Bar, the Eagle and Pearl Lounge.

In August Charles Armstrong, whose holdings include JR's and South Beach, criticized any notion that the parade would move from Montrose.

You would NEVER dream of moving the Gay (GLBTQ) Pride Parade from West Hollywood in L.A., Cedar Springs in Dallas, Halstead Street in Chicago, or the West Village in NYC. Houston’s GAY (GLBTQ) PRIDE PARADE BELONGS IN MONTROSE ON LOWER WESTHEIMER. Moving it from the gay area would be nothing short of a NIGHTMARE, not a dream. Please don't move it, LGBT Pride Houston Celebration.

On Saturday, Pride officials host a public forum to discuss the 2015 celebration.

This will be an open forum meeting with the intent of generating positive discussions surrounding Houston Pride Week and the Houston LGBT Pride Celebration.

This is the 3rd meeting of 2014 with these being considered quarterly. Pride Houston Leaders and Committee Members will be in attendance to offer their perspective on current plans for the Celebration and answer respectful questions.

Not for nothing, Pride is already searching for grand marshals for its foray into downtown. Nominations are due by Nov. 28.

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