DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — The N.C. Pride Festival is on the last Saturday of September and organizers say it has been on that way for the past 17 years.
With more than 100 vendors and a parade it’s grown to be a huge event for the Triangle, but this year it’s hit a scheduling conflict that organizers say they didn’t see coming.
“How hard is it to open a calendar and check the major holidays?” asked Peter Reitzes.
The Chapel Hill man is Jewish and usually marches during the LGBTQ parade.
The festival is on September 30 — the same day as Yom Kippur.
That’s the holiest of holidays for the Jewish community.
“Scheduling NC Pride on Yom Kippur is like scheduling NC Pride on Easter or Christmas, it just wouldn’t happen. It’s shocking,” Reitzes said.
This is the first time the two events have fallen on the same day, but pride festival organizers say they simply can’t move the event.
Reitzes says its bad timing.
“I’ve been to a number of pride events and Jews are out strong. This year we can’t be because you can’t ask a Jew to choose between our holiest day and marching in pride. Both are important!” said Reitzes.
Organizers, who are all volunteers, say they are devastated about the timing.
They say months of planning have gone into the event, vendors are coming from all over the state, and they don’t want to interfere with other scheduled events.
They posted a note on the event website asking for forgiveness and saying they look forward to their Jewish friends participating in future years.
“For the past seventeen years, the NC Pride Parade and Festival has been held on the last Saturday of September. Until this year, our date has not conflicted with the High Holy Days of the Jewish calendar. As our event has become larger, the City of Durham, Duke University and other community events in the fall have planned around our event on that established weekend. Even so, we feel the need to recognize this year’s conflict to our Jewish friends. Ask for their forgiveness and look forward to their participation in our event in future years,” the note says.
Reitzes says for him and others, it’s a community excluded from an inclusion event.
Reitzes added that the event was held on Sept. 20, 2003, and Oct. 2, 2004 — neither of which were the last Saturday in September.