Nashville Pride celebrates new look, locale as final plans are set

Nashville Pride 2009 takes a bold step forward with a new location and more when the gates open on June 20, and organizers say they are certain the changes will be well met by the community.

It’s hoped that a year’s worth of behind-the-scenes juggling with old debt and other issues is about to pay off with a reenergized event. The revamped event will keep all the standard pride hallmarks — live entertainment, community friendly vendors, plenty of social opportunities— while adding some fresh elements.

The location is at the top of the list of exciting new additions as Nashville Pride moves down to Riverfront Park after years in Centennial Park.

This step, along with a new, Vegas-style logo and other changes both large and small, is designed to change up the event but not to make it unrecognizable, said Pam Wheeler, president of Nashville Pride Inc.

“If you keep events exactly the way they always have been, they go away,” Wheeler said. “You have to tweak it, if only for business reasons. We decided to make this move, which was a big consideration, because this allows us to fence in the entire event. Now instead of there being 200 different ways to get into the festival, there’ll be only three.”

That pays off in two ways: One, event organizers will be able to solicit donations more effectively in hopes of building up the bottom line and socking away seed money for 2010. (The event remains free, but donations have always been requested to help defray expenses.)

Second, a contained venue allows for the consumption of beer and alcohol throughout  the entire enclosed area rather than in specified zones. This will result in stronger beverage sales. The proceeds will be put towards helping to improve the organization's financial outlook.

“We started this year $15,000 in debt, so we have to make raising money a priority,” Wheeler said. “But it’s not just about having a bigger party atmosphere. We’re going to have a bigger kid zone … all the elements of our festival are going to be there, and be bigger. Now people are just going to be able to move through the marketplace and all the other areas when they want to, and we think that’s very important.”

The Nashville Pride board of directors labored over all of the changes throughout the past year, with much discussion over the smallest of details, Wheeler said. There was a very real sense of the need to restore order and to get the event back on track after the previous year’s financial problems among others. This included a controversial move to Sunday rather than Saturday.

“We know people like and want this event, and no matter if it’s our best year or worst year it’s still the community’s biggest celebration,” she said. “It brings together so many organizations, businesses and churches, just for the day. It brings together 10,000 people, and now people are going to see what it looks like and feels like in a new location.”
For more information on the venue, as well as what is and isn’t allowed in the park and other related information, visit

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