River City Pride, Jacksonville’s 34th annual Pride celebration, will be bringing LGBT pride to the First Coast this month with two major events, each on consecutive weekends…
River City Pride: Jacksonville Hosts a Parade and a Festival on Consecutive Weekends
by: Mike Halterman
River City Pride, Jacksonville’s 34th annual Pride celebration, will be bringing LGBT pride to the First Coast this month with two major events, each on consecutive weekends. First is the River City Pride parade, which will start at 4 p.m. on Saturday, October 12. The next weekend, on Sunday, October 20, there will be a pride festival with vendors at the Riverside Arts Market, located at 715 Riverside Avenue. It is estimated that 10,000 people will attend one or both of the main events.
Jacksonville celebrated gay pride for the first time in 1978 with a picnic at Willow Branch Park, making Jacksonville the home of one of the oldest Pride celebrations in Florida. Over the years, the festival grew, and the venue has moved just as the festival expanded, from Willow Branch Park to the Jacksonville Fairgrounds, then to the Sea Walk Pavilion on Jacksonville Beach, and then finally to Riverside Park.
Monetary and organizational troubles in 1999 and 2008 almost snuffed out Jacksonville’s Pride celebrations for good, but the community, alongside Jerry Rosenberg, a co-owner of the nightclub complex Metro, relaunched Pride festivities as River City Pride in 2010. Once a nail-biter as to whether the event would go on for another year, River City Pride under the care of Rosenberg and successors have ensured that the show will go on for a long time past 2013.
Pride festivities will start on Thursday, October 10, with an evening of music featuring the Jacksonville Men’s Chorus and One Accord. There will also be a silent auction, with proceeds benefiting future Prides. This event will be held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, 1100 Stockton St. in Jacksonville. Admission is $10 and you can purchase your tickets by going to rivercitypride.com.
The Pride parade will start promptly at 4 p.m. on Saturday, October 12. The pride parade route will take people and floats from Boone Park onto St. Johns Ave., then left onto McDuff Ave. and then right on Park St. until the end point is reached at Riverside Park in the 5 Points neighborhood. On Sunday, October 20, starting at 11 a.m., the second integral part of River City Pride will get underway with a special Pride festival at the Riverside Arts Market. Many vendors, including food and drink trucks, arts and crafts tents, Pride memorabilia mobile shops and LGBT non-profit related informational tents will be open for perusal. River City Pride organizers also hope to showcase a variety of entertainment acts, running the gamut from rock, pop, R&B, hip-hop, folk, gospel, drag and cultural performances.
For more information, visit rivercitypride.com.