“There were over 4,000 people through the gates in the first hour,” a spokesperson for Northern Nevada Pride told therenogaypage. And it didn’t stop there, as the flow of people coming to the festival didn’t slow down until late in the afternoon. Records were smashed for attendance at the festival (estimated at 12,000 or more) and the CommUNITY Pride Parade (estimated at over 3,000). If the estimated preliminary numbers are correct, this will be the largest attendance at any Pride held in Reno since 1987.
“People were lined up to get in (to the festival) at 11 am, ” Brian Jensen, a Pride committee member told a member of the media covering the event. Covering the event were therenogaypage, the Reno Gazette-Journal, ThisisReno, KTVN Channel 2, KRNV/KRXI channel 4 and 11, KOLO channel 8.
“There is something about a parade down Virginia Street and under the Arch that brings people out,” a spokesperson for the CommUNITY Pride Parade said. “It was amazing to see people lined up the entire route of the parade on both sides of the street.”
Even the Mayor of Reno, Hillary Schieve said at the festival, “Wasn’t it great to have the Parade march down Virginia Street and under the Arch?” The audience responded with applause and shouts of joy. Mayor Schieve proclaimed it Northern Nevada Pride Day in Reno.
There were 58 entries in the parade this year, including balloon sculptures as seen in Chicago and San Francisco parades, Tesla with its model 3 and Wells Fargo featuring its Stagecoach. Claiming parade awards this year were: Marvelous Marchers: Deadlifts and Donuts; Super Fierce: Party Hearty Balloons; Fabulous Float: Splash Reno; Spirit of the Community: Washoe County Library.
On a note showing there is still need for education, compassion and awareness, there was a single protester at the parade with amplified sound telling parade watchers “You are going against the laws of God”. He even lectured to one, “You’re a bad Grandmother exposing your grand children to sodomy, and this evil lifestyle,” as a group of people watched the parade in front of West Elm. Many people verbally attacked the protester, being confrontational, which is one thing a person should never do; others ignored him or simply said “go away”. The protester was even in the face of one of the parade directors, who was calmly and peacefully talking with him until he exploded verbally, threatening her. She put up her hand up in front of him, saying “I’m done!” and walked away. Reno Police bike officers talked to the gentleman.
At the festival people had to make their way through crowds all day despite the temperature hovering around 100 degrees. The festival sold out of all 125 spaces available for vendors, which ranged from everything under the rainbow types of merchandise, to businesses and local organizations and churches. Food trucks and drink stands saw long lines all day.
Monique Manzo, who has been entertainment director for Northern Nevada Pride since its inception, coordinated the 7 hours of stage entertainment with a wide variety of acts as diverse as the GLBTQ+ community. She deserves a “BIG Way to Go, Monique” from the community for her efforts to provide quality entertainment. Stephanie Nicole LeDream hosted the main stage entertainment for her fifth year, being the hostess extraordinaire. She even told therenogaypage she loves doing this event, even if she has a hard time with names at times. Two of her numbers brought the house down as she annually has invited children to join her on the stage during one of her numbers. This year the stage was packed. She also performed a rendition of “Rise,” bringing tears to the eyes of Meredith Tanzer, a local community activist and member of the Northern Nevada Pride committee, for its shear thoughtfulness, compassion and timeliness.
“Special guests”, as Northern Nevada Pride refers to the featured entertainers, this year were Pandora Boxx, of RuPaul’s Drag Race fame, who therenogaypage interviewed (story in the August 4 issue); Singer, song writer, choreographer Bobby Newberry and Singer RayVon Owen. During Pandora Boxx’s slot on the entertainment schedule the crowd in front of the stage swelled. Taking to the stage for the first time ever was a new drag performer, Aradia from Carson City, who brought the house down and is a “drag” star in the making, according to Miss LeDream.
“You’ll have to watch this one,” LeDream told the audience.
Final numbers on attendance will come from the City of Reno officials about two weeks after the event.