CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) – Each year, the Charlotte Pride Parade and Festivals continue to grow. This year was no exception.
Organizers of the event say they don’t have specific numbers yet, but are certain they saw a record number of people this year.
Last year, 120,000 people made it to Uptown for the Pride celebration. This year, organizers estimated closer to 200,000 people went to the Festival and Parade, including more than 3,500 marchers in the Parade.
“This is amazing energy. This just brings you up so much,” said David Pable, one of the marchers.
The Charlotte Pride Festival and Parade aren’t just about the attendance records for the LGBT community. Instead, it has become a safe haven for free expression.
“You see all the people out here enjoying Pride and celebrating who they are, and have a chance to truly be who they are,” said Michelle Money, who went to both the Parade and Festival.
Because of the growth of both events, they were declared extraordinary events for the first time ever, meaning a larger police presence was required. There was pushback by Charlotte Pride, but worries were eased after discussions with CMPD.
Amid the celebration were protestors. This, however, didn’t stop anyone from enjoying the weekend festivities.
“This is our day, this is our weekend. This is our time to be us, and nobody should have the right to take that away from us,” Money said.
Another hot topic in this year’s Parade and Festival was House Bill 2, which is the controversial law that requires transgender people to use the bathroom of the gender on their birth certificate in government buildings. Throughout Pride week, there were several programs dedicated to fighting HB2, and at the Parade, floats called for the repeal of the law.
House Bill 2 did not put a damper on the celebration, but rather, served as a unifying force among the LGBT community.
“Everybody here is just being themselves, not be judged,” said Tanya Dwyer, a transgender woman who went to the Parade and Festival.
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