Thanks to the work of a U. S. Congressman and a local philanthropist, the Pride parade will set off this weekend with a much smaller price tag than last year’s event, although it’s expected to be even larger than previous years.
Last week, U.S. Rep. Bob Brady (D-1st Dist.) announced the creation of the nonprofit Greater Philadelphia Traditions Fund — which would pay for police presence and other city services needed for Pride and nine other local parades throughout the year — along with its first major contribution, a donation of $500,000 by media entrepreneur H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest.
Pride organizers were expecting to have to pay about $8,000 to the city for this year’s fees, along with a balance of $4,000 from last year’s bill — a figure that had originally been quoted at more than $20,000 but later reduced to about $9,000 — but both will be absorbed by the new fund.
Mayor Nutter last week vetoed a bill that City Council recently approved that sought to standardize fees for all of the parades, capping the price organizers would have to pay at $6,500.
City Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez, the prime sponsor of the bill, met with the administration Monday and will proceed with a veto override later this week if there is no progress in the discussions. The original bill passed 15-2.
While the funding victory takes a weight off the shoulders of the organizers, Philly Pride Presents executive director Franny Price said the June 13 event was set to see record success anyway.
Last year about 30 contingents marched in the parade, but 47 are scheduled to participate in this year’s event.
The parade will be led for the first time by the city’s LGBT marching and concert band the Philadelphia Freedom Band and will feature such high-energy acts as Cheer New York, as well as many other performers, bands and organizations that will add their own individual flavor.
“I think more and more people are becoming aware of the uniqueness of the parade,” Price said. “We do have that Mummer blood in us. Instead of having countless float after float of muscle men, we have so many performances and there will be a lot of surprises where, like the Mummers, the crowd isn’t going to know what these groups are going to do until that day.”
The parade will follow the new route created last year to reduce the number of police officers needed and, in turn, the fee: It will set off from 13th and Locust streets, turn north onto 11th Street and then east on Market proceeding to Penn’s Landing.
Performers, including local groups like The Attic Youth Center, the Gay and Lesbian Latino AIDS Education Initiative and the Metropolitan Community Church, will stop to perform throughout the parade at designated locations — 13th and Locust, 11th and Locust, outside the judging stand near Sixth and Market and at Front and Market.
For the first time in Pride’s 22-year history, all of the available vendor spots at Penn’s Landing, 131 in total, have been sold, giving attendees the chance to peruse the offerings of a multitude of merchants and community and national organizations.
The entertainment at the festival will also keep the crowd more than busy, Price said.
Headlining this year is comedian and actor Jennifer Coolidge, along with Raven from “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and Prince impersonator Frank Moore.
Alan Weaver, a graduate of the University of the Art’s musical-theater program who was recently seen in Media Theatre’s production of “Rent,” will perform the traditional “I Am What I Am” Pride anthem to kick off the festival, which will be emceed by Henri David.
Also taking the newly refurbished stage at the Great Plaza are the St. Thomas Gospel Choir, 2010 Mr. Philadelphia Black Gay Pride Malik Diamond and Miss Philadelphia Black Gay Pride Alexis Cartier, Dee LaMour, the Liberty City Kings and Benjamin Michael and Kristine Bonaventura from Quince Productions’ “Full House: A Series of Cabarets.”
Once the marshals of this year’s parade descend from their float, they too will be honored on stage, with recognition going to grand marshals Dr. Marla Gold and Robert Winn, youth marshals Kemar Jewel and Sheena Ellison and friend of Pride District Attorney Seth Williams.
Not all of the action will take place on Sunday, however, as Pride events will be held throughout the weekend.
The official women’s Pride kickoff party will be held Friday, June 11 at Sisters, 1320 Chancellor St.
At 8 p.m. Saturday, Philly Pride Presents will host a sing-along “Mamma Mia” screening on a Jumbotron at Penn’s Landing, with hosts Chumley and Carlota Ttendant. Guests are encouraged to bring earplugs and water pistols.
For more information about Pride events, visit www.phillypride.org.