Behind the Scenes of Atlanta Pride in Midtown – BBR Atlanta
The city of Atlanta recently celebrated its 49th Pride. The festival and parade centered in Midtown utilized Piedmont Park, which was filled with tents of food, drink and sponsors. With 320,000 people attending, over 300 booths to explore, and 24 musical acts, there was plenty to do and see this past weekend, making this Pride the largest parade in Atlanta.
Without the sponsored companies much of Pride would not be possible. The sponsors, according to the Atlanta Pride Organization’s official website, cover 50% of the funds for the whole event. Companies who can call themselves sponsors of Pride include big names such as Coca Cola, Delta, iHeart Media, Mail Chimp, Marriot, and many more. Even AT&T, who has been given the title of “rainbow sponsor” by the Atlanta Pride Organization, hosted a booth at the event displayed a timeline of LGBTQ history in relation to their company.
The festivities at Piedmont Park lasted one whole weekend, the neighborhood was packed full people celebrating their differences and wearing rainbow colored clothing. Even a large number of well-dressed animals attended the event. The Pet Set, a local pet store that has seen nine Pride parades and festivals in the Midtown neighborhood.
Ashley Patterson, an employee at The Pet Set, says that they supply their store in preparation for the event with the “top Pride items for cats and dogs.” Patterson reveled that Pride brings in a lot of business due to the increased foot traffic in the neighborhood. They even host a “Puppy Pride Party” on the day of the event, where they hand out samples of treats for dogs.
While they are not officially in collaboration with the Atlanta Pride Organization, like many of the establishment in the neighborhood are for the weekend’s celebrations, Patterson says, “we just do it just because we celebrate Pride.” The Pet Set continues to be the place to go to year-round if one wants to keep their pet Pride ready.
The parade assembly began at 9:30 am, but the procession did not start until 12. With Stacey Abrams as grand marshal, the parade went by smoothly down 10th street. But before the larger Pride Parade last Sunday, 10th street also served as a road for the annual Trans March, Bi and Pan March and the Dyke March.
Bernard Sahdala, a SCAD student from the Savannah campus who flew down to walk in the parade with Mail Chimp, found that the parade was easy to follow, organized and ultimately a fun experience. Sahdala said that the parade was “empowering and heart-warming, whether one was walking at the parade or interacting with the [floats] it was clear we were all there to celebrate life. The parade was very well organized. Before I realized, we had already walked the entire route.”
Behind the fun, erratic scenes of the parade, the Atlanta Pride Organization had its own regulations for the event. Walkers had to be registered, signs must be approved and anyone participating had to respect the etiquette guideline set by the Atlanta Pride Committee. Floats, which there were plenty of, were required to have on board a fire extinguisher.
If the float had music, it would have to come from a self-powered speaker that does not break city codes concerning sound amplification systems. And, if a trailer was required, it must be “towed by an accompanying vehicle and have a turning radius of not less than 90º.” All these regulations were places in the Midtown neighborhood so that all the procession could fit on 10th street. Those who drove vehicles in the parade bare all liability behind the wheel at Pride, and those who rode motorcycles were required by the committee to wear helmets at all times. If these regulations were ignored, then the float would be disqualified from the parade.
Even for the residents who would rather stay in for Pride, the festivities in the neighborhood were still enjoyable. Scott Stovall, a resident of 10th street, found that unlike other events that take place at Piedmont Park, Pride gave him no issues. “Music Midtown is much worse,” he said in reference to traffic and loud music.