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Vilanch Grand Marshal For D.C. Pride

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The Washington Blade
Pride arrives next weekend
33rd annual celebration to bring thousands of revelers to city
By CHRIS JOHNSON
Jun. 06, 2008

Organizers for this year’s Capital Pride estimate about 40,000 visitors will descend on Washington for the annual parade and about 200,000 for the festival, which includes a few minor upgrades from last year’s event.

The parade on June 14, slated to begin at 6:30 p.m. at P and 23rd streets, will feature an additional announcement stand toward the beginning of the parade. Music will play from the stand and when the parade begins a speaker will describe the contingencies as they pass. In previous years, announcements came only from the reviewing stand toward the end of the parade.

The parade path will not deviate from previous years and will continue on P Street until 14th Street.

Comedy writer Bruce Vilanch will serve as the parade’s grand marshal. Wendy Rieger, news anchor for NBC 4, will handle the announcements from the reviewing stand.

Dave Mallory, Capital Pride director for Whitman-Walker Clinic, said he is expecting about 100 contingencies for the parade, which will include floats, cars and walking participants. The parade is on track to have about as many contingencies as it did last year.

The Pride festival will take place June 15, a Sunday, on Pennsylvania Avenue between 3rd and 7th streets. A new feature this year will be the placement of recycling bins throughout the festival grounds.

“We’ve had a couple volunteers step up who really wanted to make Pride more green, so people need to be looking for the recycling bins throughout the site,” Mallory said.

In addition to serving as grand marshal, Vilanch will also be master of ceremonies for the festival. Destiny B. Childs will assist in the duties as master of ceremonies.

Festival performers include Derek Hartley and Romaine Patterson, hosts of the Derek and Romaine on Sirius OutQ radio. Pop duo and real life couple Jason & deMarco will headline the afternoon entertainment.

Local talent includes the Charm City Boys, a Maryland drag king troupe; D.C. Cowboys, a gay male dance company that dresses as cowboys; and the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington.

Booths for the festival are sold out. Mallory estimates that 230 organizations will have displays.

Destination D.C. estimates that leisure visitors spend between $100 and $200 when they come into the city for an event, so if Pride brings in the expected 40,000 attendees, the event would bring in about $6 million to Washington.

Capital Pride is undergoing a transition this year as Whitman-Walker Clinic gradually hands over control to the newly formed Capital Pride Alliance. For 2008, the Clinic is still handling the legal, financial and logistical matters for Pride.

Mallory said the transition has been “fairly smooth” and that the bulk of the transition over to the Capital Pride Alliance will be on the administrative side.

“When it comes to like actually planning the events and putting on a successful Pride week, I think they certainly have those tools already at their fingerprints because they’re the ones that are doing it now,” Mallory said.

A number of organizations targeting gay audiences are planning to participate.

The Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League (SMYAL), an organization dedicated to serving gay youth in the Washington area, plans to have a walking contingency in the parade and a booth at the festival.

Andrew Barnett, acting executive director for SMYAL, said his organization plans to have a kick-off party on the Friday preceding Pride, during which gay youth will come together to decorate the car that SMYAL will use in its contingency.

“I think we’re just going to do the usual — streamers and balloons — things like that,” he said.

During the festival, SMYAL will partner with Youth Pride Alliance and the Northern Virginia AIDS Ministry for a T-shirt-decorating activity at their booth.

Barnett said it is important for SMYAL to participate in Capital Pride because the D.C. gay community provides support enabling the organization to operate its programs.

“It’s also just a great opportunity for our youth to come out and show their pride and be in a space where they really get a sense that there is a larger community that supports them,” he said.

D.C. Strokes, the gay rowing team in Washington, an organization with more than 200 members, also plans to be in the parade and have a festival booth.

Andy Rabus, head coach for the team, said D.C. Strokes is sponsoring Capital Pride for the first time this year. Rabus said his organization will try to sign people up who are interested in the organization and will give out T-shirts. The team will seek out experienced rowers who want to be part of the organization and gauge interest for future “learn-to-row” classes.