When I first heard that the Pride Festival was moving down to the Inner Harbor, I wasn’t quite sure if the idea would fly. After all, the post-parade festivities had taken place at Bidwell Parkway for many years. Festivals should be sprinkled throughout the city, not just at one central location… or so I thought. After witnessing the parade, which seemed a bit longer than usual (maybe due to the great weather), we headed down to the waterfront and by the time we arrived the party was in full swing.
What I liked most about the waterfront setting was the walk from the Erie Basin Marina to the Pride Festival site at the Commercial Wharf. There was activity everywhere – young, old, black, white, gay, straight – the place was hopping before we even reached the stage and the beer tent (with full bar). As we approached the tent, a large sail from a sailboat could be seen passing behind a throng of revelers giving the venue a beach-side vibe. As much as the Bidwell scene was fun to witness in previous years, it was nothing like what we encountered this year.
Gone were the smell of Porta-Johns trapped between two roadways on Bidwell Parkway. Gone were the boundaries. Gone were the neighbors who never wanted to see the festival on what they consider their front lawn. Instead, there was an overwhelming feeling that if you were in attendance, then you were meant to be there… almost as if the waterfront destination had been a journey for festival-goers. There were lawns to sit down on and boats to watch. There was a soft breeze coming off the lake with an unobscured view of the sun over the water. The crowd was diverse and people were happy strolling, sitting, dancing, listening and talking. People took the Metro Rail and didn’t complain about lack of parking. If you were LGBT or a friend of LGBT, it was a triumphant moment to see the masses decked out in every color imaginable along the water’s edge.
I have a feeling that next year the organizers are going to need a bigger tent. As for the parade, please bring back some of the previous years’ Buffalo Bears floats!!!!
I can’t wait to attend more events at the Central Wharf this summer – especially as more amenities become available. I can only imagine how the passive beach and playground, along with the extension of the wharf will play out in years to come. Hopefully some of the long lines for food will be alleviated as more permanent food options become available. All in all, I think that this Pride event signaled not only pride for the LGBT community, but also for the direction that our waterfront is heading.