Parade Off, Festival On

Pride Festival of Central Pa. Makes Tough Decision

“We had some tough decisions to make,” said Brad Martin, first vice president, Pride Festival of Central Pa. The group has announced that the parade portion of the annual festival will not be held for 2011.

Last year was the fifth anniversary of the parade. This year’s festival is the festival’s 20th anniversary. A statement said that with the event’s “deadline approaching fast”, the board of directors “had to make one of the hardest decisions this year” including canceling the Parade.

The decision did not come easy.

“We have been discussing the parade since August when we began talking about this year’s festival. After several discussions with LGBTQI and local community leaders we came to the harsh reality that we would not be able to put on the parade this year,” Martin’s statement said.

Two major factors led to cancellation.

The first factor, Martin’s statement indicated, was that as of April 24, “we have no idea how much the parade and festival will cost us.” The all volunteer organization has been continuously calling Harrisburg City’s Parks & Recreation Department in order to seek pricing for this year’s events.

“The only answer we get is that City Council has not set the fees this year but we have been assured that they will double if not quadruple from last year’s fees,” Martin’s statement said. 2010 fees doubled from the previous year. The city’s parks and recreation director resigned last week, effective later this month.

The second factor considered by the all-volunteer organization in cancelling the parade was lack of community involvement.

Last year the organization had an 11 member board. This round they started with five members, now six. “We have had little community assistance when it comes to putting the festival together. Martin’s statement said the event needs “at least 100 people to run gates, set up the grounds, maintenance, organizational duties, putting the parade together, and handling entertainment.” Martin laments that “Most of the community thinks that festival is done overnight, but it is a full year process. There was no way with six people that we could have put on both a parade and a festival.”

Martin told Central Voice that the organization expects to have what information it needs in a matter of days and that “the festival is a go, without a parade.”

Readers interested in assisting with the 20th anniversary festival may contact info@prideofcentralpa.org; 717-801-1830.

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