This weekend, the Stonewall Columbus Pride Parade and Festival will lay claim to Goodale Park and parts of Downtown Friday and Saturday to celebrate the city’s strong LGBT culture and the city dwellers who support it.
The 30-year staple in Columbus’ culture and one of the largest Pride events in the Midwest—it’s second only to Chicagohas proven itself to be a city hit, with its large parade and scads of performances and activities. But this year the fest is set to be bigger than ever, with around 300,000 attendees and more than 200 vendors expected to attend.
The event is also seeing an increase in certain parade participants, something that Karla Rothan, executive director of Stonewall Columbus,said holds a specific importance to a large portion of the LGBT community.
“The amount of churches that march is always growing, but there are more churches this year than ever before,” she said. “It’s good for young people to see that.”
The festival has also stepped up its game in the security arena due to incidences of national and local public violence, like the recent local assaults on LGBTpeople. But, Rothan said, the focus of the festival is on a broader level.
“Our community has coming together in recent days because of the bashings, but we’ve always have had adversaries and protesters,” she said. “But we come out and celebrate our culture, our contributions to the city. We’re your doctors, your lawyers. And this is an open and affirming city that wants to recognize our talents.”
Parades and performances are awesome, but are you looking to try something new or more off-the-beaten-path to experience at Pride? Rothan shares four don’t-miss activities this year’s fest.
1. Share in celebrating marriage equality — on a more personal level. Thanks in part to local donors, 25 couples from Ohio and beyond will take a trip to Washington D.C., where they will get legally married, then head back to Columbus, where celebrations, such as cutting the first slice of cake, will ensue. (At 3 p.m. on Saturday, June 22, in the Stonewall Fusion Tent next to the Goodale Park Shelter House, there will be a commitment ceremony that will be performed for anyone interested. Couples that register — it’s free — will also receive a commemorative certificate.)
2. Get the fest rollin’ by hopping in a giant human hamster ball, this year’s new activity.
3. Check out Teen Village, a specific space for LGBT and allied youth that will feature all-teen performances of singing and dancing.
4. Groove to musical performances and DJ jams at the Pride Patio, an all-new feature set up like an outdoor dance club.