Gay Pride Parade to march on Beale
Eight thousand people attended Mid-South Pride Parade 2011 on Beale Street. This year, the crowd is expected to reach 10,000 due to the welcoming environment that the area offers. Photo courtesy of Mid-South Pride/Kevin Reed Photography
Roughly 10,000 people are expected to take over Downtown on Saturday to show their pride during the Mid-South Pride Festival.
It starts with a parade that will march down Beale Street from 2 to 3 p.m. Other festivities are to be held at Robert Church Park, located behind FedExForum from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Mid-South Pride - formerly known as Memphis Pride - is in its ninth year. It covers the Midsouth, which includes Memphis, the boot-hill of Missouri, Arkansas, and Mississippi.
About 50 floats will participate and there will be two 100-foot flags displayed. One is a piece of the equality flag that stretches across the nation, and the other is a state flag that was made in dedication to the founder of Memphis Pride.
Coors Brewing Company, Fortunate Families and Friends for Life are some of the organizations that will be involved in the parade.
The festival will include games, aerialists from "Valerie's Angels," concerts from local music artists and Chad Michaels from "Ru Paul's Drag Race." Playhouse on the Square's "Zombies from Beyond" cast will give the audience a 20-minute sample of the play.
Vanessa Rodley, vice-president of Mid-South Pride, said she wanted to get involved to make a difference, and to help make people feel proud of who they are.
"It's seeing people who are just like you that makes you feel okay about who you are," Rodley said.
This year, the festival is projected to see 10,000 attendees. Rodley said the welcoming atmosphere over the years has made others interested in coming out to celebrate.
The event will close with a "Pride Crawl" through local pubs. The ceremonies will last from 6 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. and take place at Hard Rock CafÃ©, Jack Magoo's, The Pumping Station and Spectrum.
"It's a way for us to have a good time together, continue to party, enjoy each other, and give back to local businesses that have given to us," Rodley said.
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