March 11, 2020 at 5:47 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Capital Pride mum on proposed new parade route
Capital Pride Parade, gay news, Washington Blade
A scene from last year’s Pride parade. The route for this year’s parade could change. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Capital Pride Alliance, the organization that sponsors D.C.’s annual Capital Pride Parade, Festival and other Pride-related events, has confirmed that it submitted to the city last week a “final proposal” for major changes in the route of this year’s Pride Parade scheduled for Saturday, June 13.

“The final proposal was sent in the last week after negotiating options with the Mayor’s Special Event Task Group (MSETG) based on conversations at the Advisory Neighborhood Commissions and input from focus groups, businesses, and organization partners,” Ryan Bos, the Capital Pride Alliance executive director, told the Washington Blade on Tuesday.

But Bos said Capital Pride Alliance will not publicly disclose any specifics about the new Capital Pride Parade route until at least the first week of April when he expects the details to be finalized.

“Our hope is to have a follow-up meeting with the Task Group before the end of this month,” Bos said. “So our hope would be that in the beginning of April we will be able to plan the roll out informing and educating the community on these changes.”

In recent years all major outdoor events involving the closing of city streets have taken place in coordination with both the Mayor’s Special Event Task Group and D.C. police, who are in charge of carrying out street closings. Bos said requests for changing the parade route by city officials have surfaced in meetings between Capital Pride and representatives of the Task Group, police, and the D.C. Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services.

“Because participation and spectator size have increased over the past few years, in 2017 the city began suggesting that the Capital Pride Alliance consider moving the Pride Parade to Constitution Avenue, as that location is easier to manage from the city’s perspective,” Bos told the Blade.

“Capital Pride felt very strongly that the Parade should remain within community neighborhoods, even with the challenges presented by increased city fees and requirements,” Bos said. “We used this opportunity to take a fresh look at the existing route.”

One unconfirmed report by those involved in discussions with Capital Pride officials was that part of the changes would be to reverse the route so the parade would start where it has ended in recent years at 14th and S Streets, N.W. and end where it used to begin – at 23rd and P Streets, N.W. near Dupont Circle.

“That was part of all the different scenarios that we’ve been looking at,” Bos told the Blade. “That was definitely part of the conversation.”

Bos declined to confirm or deny whether that change has been decided on, saying full details of the new route won’t be announced until next month.

He said that for the past three years, the city has required the placement of crowd control fences, which he said are referred to as “bike rack” fencing, along most of the parade route to accommodate larger crowds and larger size floats that have become more common in the parade.

According to Bos, the cost of the fencing, which Capital Pride has paid for, has come to more than $40,000 per year in recent years. Bos said the projected total cost in city fees for street closings, security fencing, and other expenses for both the parade and the Capital Pride Festival and concert, set for the day after the parade on Sunday, June 14, is between $300,000 and $400,000.

Bos said there are no plans to change the location of the festival and concert, which have taken place in recent years on Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., between 3rd Street, near the U.S. Capitol, and 7th Street. 

Capital Pride has raised money to cover expenses for the Pride events each year through fundraising activities and corporate sponsors.

This year, a coalition of local LGBTQ organizations has submitted a formal proposal to the D.C. City Council requesting $22.2 million in city funds for LGBTQ-related programs and projects that includes a call to waive all city fees for the Pride Parade and Festival. The Council has yet to finalize its budget for fiscal year 2021.

Shortly before resigning from his Ward 2 seat, D.C. Council member Jack Evans introduced a bill to waive city fees for the Capital Pride Parade, festival and other Pride related events. The bill was sent to the Council’s Committee on Business and Economic Development. A spokesperson for the committee’s chair, Council member Kenyan McDuffie (D-Ward 5), couldn’t immediately be reached to determine whether McDuffie plans to take action on the bill.

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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