Tarrant Pride fundraising kicks into high gear

Posted on 11 Aug 2011 at 7:22pm
PRIDE 2010 | The Rev. Carol West was one of the grand marshalls for the 2010 Tarrant Pride Parade.

TCGPWA still about $15,000 short of goal to pay for picnic, 30th annual parade set for downtown

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

FORT WORTH — With less than two months to go until the 30th annual Tarrant County Pride Week steps off through downtown Fort Worth on Oct. 1, the Tarrant County Gay Pride Week Association still needs to raise more money to pay for a bigger, better parade and the Pride Picnic planned for the following Day in Trinity Park.

Since the Rainbow Lounge raid in June 2009, Fort Worth’s LGBT community has been re-energized and more active and organized. The 2010 parade, which followed the traditional route down Jennings Avenue on the city’s south side, was the largest, by far, in recent memory, and included a new feature, a street party on Jennings before and after the parade.

But this year, as the community’s presence and influence has grown, and to mark the event’s 30th anniversary, TCGPWA organizers decided the parade should be even more high profile, moving the event to downtown Cowtown.

“We’re taking it to Main Street America” this year, said Duane Littlefield, president of TCGPWA.

This year’s parade has also been moved to a Saturday morning instead of a Sunday afternoon.

The parade begins at 10 a.m. on Oct. 1, and will move down Main Street in the heart of the downtown district. The street festival will follow, beginning at noon at General Worth Square, and lasting til 6 p.m.

The Pride Picnic, previously held on the Saturday following parade Sunday, this year will be held the next day, from noon to 6 p.m.

But this bigger, better Pride celebration costs money. The budget for the parade and picnic weekend is $25,000, a significant increase from the previous budget of $6,600 according to Tony Coronado, TWGPWA corporate partner and sponsorships committee chair.

And unlike the Dallas Pride parade each September that is staged by a professional organization, the Dallas Tavern Guild, the Fort Worth events are mounted completely by a volunteer community organization.

Coronado said the committee has so far raised about $10,000 of the total needed. But is confident that upcoming fundraising events can make up the difference — as long as the community turns out to support them.

On Aug. 20, TCGPWA is holding a benefit garage sale, and on Aug. 21, “The Diva Show” starring local drag legend Tasha Kohl begins at 8 p.m. at Best Friends Club. Three additional shows are planned at Best Friends through September, including a pageant, that will all help bulk up the Pride celebration coffers.

In addition, Coronado said that most groups that will participate in the parade have not registered yet. Parade entries cost $50 for an eco-friendly or walking group, $75 for a non-profit and $125 for a standard entry which may be a car, float or a truck.

Groups have until Sept. 15 to register.

Coronado said the association has lined up some sponsors, the majority of whom are “providing in-kind services,” Coronado said. That list includes Coors, which will supply the main stage for the festival.

But, Littlefield added, “We could always use more sponsors.”

She said that another way to contribute is to purchase the weekend package available on the TCGPWA website. The Sheraton Fort Worth Hotel & Spa is the host hotel and the weekend includes lunch at Billy Bob’s in the Stockyards, a film screening at the Water Gardens and excursions to the museums in the city’s Cultural District.

“Buy into that package,” Littlefield urged. “It will help tremendously.”

She said the Fort Worth Convention & Visitors Bureau has been “gung ho supportive” in helping the association plan and promote Pride weekend.

The downtown route is about four times the length of the old parade route, and Littlefield said that requires more announcing stations and more police. And for the first time, the Fort Worth parade will use barricades to keep spectators on the sidewalks, adding another expense.

More volunteers are also needed this year for set-up, clean up and logistics, which also adds to the price.

Newly elected Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price will be one of the grand marshals for this year’s parade, and Billy Moon — grand marshal of the first Pride parade in Fort Worth 30 years ago — will be one of the honorary grand marshals. Tasha Kohl has also been named honorary grand marshal.

Coronado said the Pride Week association named Kohl as an honorary grand marshal in part as a shout-out to the city’s female impersonators who are the ones who started the Pride picnic and who have always been an integral part of the fundraising efforts for the parade and other activities.

Because this year’s parade is taking place downtown, the parade will be more accessible to Dallasites making the trip across the Trinity for the parade by train.

On Saturday, the TRE leaves Union Station in downtown Dallas at 8:49 a.m. and arrives at the Fort Worth Intermodal Center (the next to last stop) at 9:44 a.m. That station is three blocks from the parade route.

The parade begins at the Tarrant County Courthouse on Weatherford Street at 10 a.m. proceeding down Main Street to 7th Street. The festival that begins at noon will be on Main Street from 8th to 9th streets near the Water Gardens. The Intermodal Center is on Jones Street at 9th Street.

Volunteers can sign up on line. Forms for parade entries are also available at TCGPWA.org

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