Parade on October 4, Festival on October 5
River City Pride is celebrating a big milestone this year. The gay pride celebrations for the Jacksonville area are turning 35 this year, with a special weekend revolving around a parade and a festival. The parade will be held on Saturday, October 4 and the festival will be held on Sunday, October 5.
Jacksonville is home to one of the oldest gay pride celebrations in the state, having been held nearly every year since 1978 when a picnic was organized by members of the community and held at Willow Branch Park. The celebrations in Jacksonville have been organized under their current name, River City Pride, since 2010.
The parade is the main event on Saturday, and will take groups and floats through the Avondale and Riverside neighborhoods. People and groups should start lining up at Boone Park (3700 Park St., Jacksonville) at 2:30 p.m., with the parade beginning at 4 p.m.
The parade route starts on Van Wert Avenue, turning left on St. Johns Avenue. The parade continues on St. Johns Avenue down to McDuff Avenue, where the floats will turn right onto Park Street. They will continue on for another mile on Park Street, ending at Riverside Park in the Five Points Business District. There is a block party immediately after the parade, located on Lomax Street and is sponsored by the Five Points Merchants Association.
On Sunday, October 5, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., there will be a festival held at the Riverside Artist Square (715 Riverside Ave., Jacksonville). Dozens of vendors, advocacy organizations and other groups will be setting up booths that day for celebration attendees to peruse. During the festival there will also be entertainment, with headliners including Wigstock founder, singer and DJ Lady Bunny; R&B and disco singer Thelma Houston; and power-pop sensation Tom Goss. They will all be performing throughout the afternoon and into the evening.
If you are interested in coming on up to Jacksonville to check out River City Pride, the host hotel for the weekend is the Crowne Plaza Jacksonville Riverfront (1201 Riverplace Blvd., 904-398-8800). There are special rates available if you mention River City Pride while booking.
Hotspots Media Group is a proud sponsor of River City Pride this year. The presenting sponsors of this event are Bank of America, Hamburger Mary’s and the Northeast Florida AIDS Network. Other sponsors include Metro Entertainment Complex, Prudential, City Xtra, Equality Florida, Citi, Park Place Lounge, Progressive, EU Jacksonville, Chase JP Morgan, and Buckman Bridge Unitarian Universalist Church.