Attendees of the 19th annual Pridefest will notice several major changes to this year’s event to be held at Centennial Park on Saturday, June 2.  Among the most noticeable, will be major changes to the annual Pride Parade route and overall event parking.

The Pride Parade is one of the most talked about subjects of the Pride season within the Nashville GLBT community.  This year’s Parade will be relocated from its prior route down Elliston Place to inside Centennial Park.  According to Nashville Pride President, Todd Grantham, this change is being made for several reasons; among them economics.

“We [Nashville Pride Board] strongly believe that the Parade is a crucial part of our Pride event, but we also feel that it should be more intimate and more an extension of the Pridefest, which is one reason why we have decided to move it inside Centennial Park," says Grantham. “By moving it into the actual venue, we also reduce our expenses on the Parade and can therefore reallocate that money to other areas of the Festival that we feel are just as vital.”

“Most are probably unaware of how expensive it is to hold the Parade, even as small as it is currently,” echoes Jeanna Emert, Nashville Pride vice president.  “With fees, licenses, a police presence and other factors that the City implements when shutting down a street, the Parade has quickly become one of our biggest expenses each year.”

“Moving the Parade into the Park will give it maximum exposure to those attending Pridefest who might otherwise miss it, and this will in turn show them what a vital component of the Festival it truly is,” says Grantham. 

This change as well as the expanding of other Pridefest offerings has led to another significant change — event parking.

According to Festival Director, Doug Sladen, ample free parking will be available on the day of the event, though it may be in different areas than Festival goers have used in year’s past.  Currently parking is available in the HCA Hospital lots B and D located on Park Plaza at the back entrance of Centennial as well as behind the Lentz Health Clinic (311 23rd Ave. N). There are also limited spaces available along 25th and 27th Avenues.

Parking will not be available inside the park between the Parthenon and the West End entrances as it has been in previous years.

“While there are limited spaces inside the park in this area, it is safe to say that those will be utilized by our vendors and therefore the best course of action is not to anticipate actually parking inside the park but around the perimeter on 25th and 27th Avenue as well as in the HCA lots,” advises Sladen. 

This year’s Parade Grand Marshall will be Gene Floyd. A strong ally of the GLBT community, Floyd is a former co-chair of Nashville Pride and has served as a co-chair of PFLAG for over ten years.  She was also recently elected to the board of the Tennessee Equality Project (TEP).

 For more information on the upcoming Pridefest visit www.nashvillepride.org.

This article has been republished from Out & About Nashville, and was part of a series of first-person pieces written by the late Bobbi Williams.

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