DENVER — Denver's 45th annual PrideFest will move to a virtual-only celebration this summer due to limits on large public gatherings in the city amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The two-day event takes place each June and draws thousands to Civic Center Park in downtown Denver for a parade, festival and three stages of entertainment.
Organizers said they exhausted every option before making the decision to move to a virtual event, including postponing the event to later in the summer.
“Although we will miss the energy of an in-person gathering, protecting the safety and health of the attendees, staff and volunteers who make PrideFest so special is paramount," said Rex Fuller, CEO of The Center on Colfax. "Instead of just cancelling Pride, which means so much to so many, we are working hard to create a variety of opportunities for our community to connect and celebrate virtually.”
PrideFest is also the largest fundraiser for The Center on Colfax, providing over $1 million to help support programs for LGBTQ+ youth, seniors and Colorado's transgender community, according to organizers. The Center said it hopes to raise $100,000 through its virtual celebration, about 10% of the annual revenue the event generates.
“While we may not be able to host our traditional PrideFest events, I am urging the community to do what they can to support The Center and all the other organizations that benefit from The Center’s services. It’s crucial to do what we can to ensure that nonprofits can survive this time as well,” said Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.
Organizers are working with PrideFest sponsors and those who have already applied for exhibitor space about their options, including refunds or putting support toward the virtual celebration.
The virtual PrideFest event will take place on June 20-21. According to organizers, potential virtual events include:
- Virtual parade: The Center will ask community businesses and organizations to enter fun-filled videos that will be live-streamed as a “parade” with live commentary.
- "It will give community groups a chance to share their message about the work that they’re doing," Fuller said. "It’ll give performers the chance to do something creative on video. It will give area businesses a chance to show what their work entails."
- Virtual 5K: People will enter the 5K, run their race and submit their time independently. The Center will reward their efforts with a t-shirt and other prizes.
- Virtual entertainment: The Center is working to gather online entertainment from performers who were previously scheduled to perform live.
- Virtual dance party: DJs from various clubs around town will present a dance party via Twitch.
- Virtual Exhibitor Page: An online marketplace will allow the public to virtually browse a collection of exhibitors who will sell merchandise online.
- Pride Decorating Contest: The Center will encourage the public to decorate their houses or apartment balconies for pride and share their photos online.
- Pride Job Fair: Job seekers will be able to visit an online job board that will post jobs from LGBTQ-friendly employers.
Last fall, organizers decided this year's theme would be "Together We Rise." Fuller said no one could have guessed how important that would become.
"Together all of us are going to rise to the occasion and meet this challenge," he said. "That's what we have to believe in order to keep moving forward."
Since 1990, Denver PrideFest has grown into the largest celebration of LGBTQ pride in the Rocky Mountain region.
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