October 16, 2014 at 6:20 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Capital Pride leaders consider reversing parade route
Capital Pride, gay news, Washington Blade

Next year’s Capital Pride Parade may march in the opposite direction. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The head of Capital Pride, the non-profit group that sponsors D.C.’s annual LGBT Pride parade and festival, announced on Wednesday that the group is considering reversing the route of the 2015 Capital Pride Parade so that it ends where it has begun for at least a decade – at 23rd and P Streets, N.W., near Dupont Circle.

Ryan Bos, the group’s executive director, made the announcement at an Oct. 15 meeting of volunteers and representatives of more than a dozen local and national LGBT and LGBT supportive organizations that participate in the annual parade and festival.

He said the proposed change was aimed at having the destination of the annual parade, which attracts thousands of LGBT people and their supporters, return to the Dupont Circle area, where the very first D.C. Gay Pride festival was held in 1975.

“I would say this is one of the items under consideration,” Bos told the Blade after the meeting, which was held at the Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams furniture store showroom on 14th Street, N.W.

Among other things, Bos said Capital Pride must obtain approval from the city through the Mayor’s Special Events Task Force for switching the site where the parade will begin to 14th and R Streets, N.W., the location where the parade has ended in recent years.

The starting site must serve as the staging location for more than 100 parade contingents, including floats and cars. In recent years an area surrounding 24th and N Streets, N.W., where there are few businesses, has served as the staging grounds.

The proposed change would bring the staging area to the bustling 14th Street entertainment and residential district, where dozens of restaurants, shops and new high rise residential buildings have opened.

The staging area around 24th and N Streets has involved closing that intersection and several surrounding streets to car traffic for at least three hours as the parade contingents waited to move to the parade’s official kick-off location at 23rd and P Street, N.W.

Bos said it would be up to city officials, including D.C. police, who are in charge of street closings, to determine whether it would be OK to move the staging area to 14th and R or 14th and S Streets, N.W.

“Once we decide if that’s the direction we want to go we will then need to submit that proposal to the task force,” Bos said. “And they will either grant or deny this request.”

Bos noted that staging for the parade in the past several years began at 1 p.m. on the Saturday in June when the annual parade takes place. The parade begins each year at 4 p.m. The last of the contingents usually leaves the staging area to join the parade more than two hours later.

According to Bos, Capital Pride officials are also considering having an outdoor event near where the parade ends if the proposed change in the parade route is approved. He said an LGBT “family” type of event is being considered for P Street Beach park, which is part of the federal Rock Creek park system, or possibly on the grounds of the Francis-Stevens D.C. public school at 24th and N Street, N.W.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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