July 22, 2015 at 5:00 pm EDT | by Mariah Cooper
Baltimore Pride celebrates 40 years this weekend
Baltimore Pride Parade, gay news, Washington Blade

2014 Baltimore Pride Parade (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Pride Parade 

 

Saturday, July 25 at 3:30 p.m.

 

Following the parade will be a block party on Charles Street at Eager Street at 4 p.m.

 

Pride Festival 

 

Sunday, July 26, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

 

Druid Hill Park (2600 Madison Ave., Baltimore)

 

For more information, visit baltimorepride.org.

 

Baltimore Pride, organized by the GLBT Community Center of Baltimore (GLCCB), is celebrating its 40th anniversary this weekend with some key changes to the usual Pride lineup.

Usually held over Father’s Day weekend in June, Baltimore Pride organizer Paul Liller says they were forced to change the time of the celebration due to an issue with city permits. However, pushing the time to July gave organizers an unexpected advantage.

“It turned out to be a blessing in disguise,” Liller says. “As a result of being a month later, we’re not competing with corporate sponsorship with D.C. and New York. We’re off in an island on our own and as a result corporate sponsorship went up drastically.”

Baltimore Pride went from an estimated $30,000 in corporate sponsorship in previous years to almost $100,000 this year. The increase in funding allowed Baltimore Pride to spend more money on bigger name entertainment for its annual block party performances.

“It really gave us a little more freedom to make our 40th year something to really be proud of and something to have the community really excited about,” Liller says.

Another hitch Baltimore Pride encountered was a relocation issue. The parking lot next to Club Hippo and Grand Central Station nightclub, where the block party was held in previous years, is scheduled to be demolished and repaved and construction was not scheduled to be finished in time for the block party. The party would have to find a new home. Liller says the space the block party is in this year, between Brexton and Eager streets, is larger. However, parts of the block party will still occupy some of the old space. A dance stage and drag stage will still be in front of Club Hippo and there will still be bars at the Hippo along with bars on Eager Street.

“We really had to make some tough decisions but I really don’t think it’s going to impact at all in terms of the attendance numbers,” Liller says.

They’re expecting 15,000 attendees per day, slightly more, organizers hope, because of the anniversary year.

Baltimore Pride will kick off with Twilight on the Terrace, a benefit cocktail party, at the Baltimore Museum of Art (10 Museum Dr.) on Friday, July 24 from 7-11 p.m. The benefit will feature a four-hour open bar, hors d’oeuvres, silent auction, dancing, music and more. Tickets are $100. The annual High Heel Race will take place on Saturday, July 25 at 3 p.m. on Cathedral Street from Read Street to Eager Street.

Following the race, the Pride parade starts at 3:30 p.m. The parade will begin on the corners of Monument and Cathedral streets in the Mount Vernon area and continue on north from Cathedral Street to Chase Street. Club Hippo owner Chuck Bowers will be the parade’s grand marshal. Bowers recently announced that the Hippo would close this fall after nearly 40 years in business.

The block party will follow from 4-10 p.m. on Cathedral Street between Brexton and Eager streets. The headliners for the party will be disco diva Martha Wash and hip-hop artist Cazwell. Other performers will include drag performer Tatiyanna Voche, trans recording artist Ts Madison, drag performer Shawna Alexander, DJ Rosie, DJ Arturo, Miss Gay Maryland 2015 Jordan Sinclair and many more.

About 60 vendors are expected to have booths at the block party. Although this number is lower than it has been in previous years, Liller says vendors have purchased larger booths, making the block party over all larger in space than in previous years.

On Sunday, July 26, the Pride Festival will take place at Druid Hill Park (2600 Madison Ave., Baltimore) from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Gay country singer Steve Grand will perform and Ts Madison will give a second performance.

For more information on Baltimore Pride, visit baltimorepride.org.

Baltimore Pride block party, gay news, Washington Blade

The last Baltimore Pride block party was held in 2013. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

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