More than 2,000 expected for Collin County’s largest LGBTevent of the year
The 6th annual North Texas Pride is slated for Saturday, Sept. 10 in McKinney, and North Texas Pride Committee member Morris Garcia said this year’s even should be bigger and better than ever.
“We started this event in 2011 in an alley in McKinney, and when our event sponsor backed out, my husband and I — he was my partner then — we funded it ourselves,” Garcia said.
“That first year, we had about 60 replies on our Facebook page for the event, and we were hoping we’d have at least that many people show up. We had a DJ, and a band and a team of volunteers to put it all on. And when it was all said and done, we had more than 225 people show up,” he said.
The event has grown each year. Garcia said attendance last year topped 1,500, and organizers this year are expecting more than 2,000 people to show up. But, he added, “It doesn’t have to always be bigger and bigger, as long as people have fun.”
Garcia noted that North Texas Pride has always been very deliberately family-oriented, offering LGBT families and allies a place to bring their children to celebrate Pride, and as in each previous year, a number of activities are planned especially for the children — a bounce house, a water slide, facepainters, balloon artists, cotton candy and more.
Rainbow Roundup, the North Texas LGBT family organization, will be on hand with activities for children, and there will also be drawings for four door prizes geared toward the kids, too. Prizes will include a 4-foot plush bear, a Razor, an iTunes gift card and a Garmin fitness tracker. Children attending the festival will get one ticket each which they can use in the drawing for a specific prize.
Children will not be able to purchase additional tickets, but adults can purchase more tickets for them.
But there’s plenty for the adults, too. Louisiana Street Grill will have a special menu available for Pride attendees, along with wine, beer and some mixed drinks. There will be a raffle for an Apple Watch and an Android Wear watch, and adults can purchase chances for the drawings at the festival.
The festival will be “jam-packed with vendor booths and sponsor booths,” Garcia said.
The Pride festival begins at 1 p.m., and from then until about 5 p.m., Garcia said, the activities for kids will be in full gear. Activities from 5 to 8 p.m., though, will be geared toward the adults, with music, drag performances and more.
Headlining performer will be Sam Tolson, an Ohio-based singer/songwriter who first gained attention on YouTube and has been building a name for herself since then. Local performer Chris Chism is in the lineup, as is drag performer and Miss Gay North Texas State At Large Basha Nicole.
Admission to North Texas Pride is $10 per adult, with children 12 and under admitted free. Tickets are available online at NorthTexasPride.com, and at the gate.
North Texas Pride has chosen two other nonprofit organizations as beneficiaries of this year’s Pride festival: Jonathan’s Place and the Gregg Dolgener Memorial AIDS Fund. Jonathan’s Place offers a number of services to children in need, including an emergency shelter that accepts newborns and children up to age 17, and foster and adoption programs that work with same-sex couples. GDMF helps people with HIV/AIDS in need of emergency funds and money to cover costs that other HIV service organizations can’t help with.
The festival is also a fundraiser for North Texas Pride itself, Garcia said, intended to help the nonprofit reach its long-term goal: a community center serving the LGBT community on the north side of the DFW Metroplex.
“We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit with a board of directors, and we are all volunteers. And we want to give the LGBT community in this area a place to congregate, to educate, to entertain,” Garcia said. “That’s our goal, and we are very passionate about it. We’re doing a good thing here, and we are very proud to have the chance to do it.”
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 9, 2016.