Event sees incredible growth to 150,000 visitors, parade becomes largest parade in Charlotte
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte Pride, a local non-profit organization which creates programs and activities to enrich, empower, strengthen and make visible the unique lives and experiences of LGBTQ people in Charlotte and the Carolinas, is estimating an historic attendance for this past weekend’s annual festival and parade in Uptown Charlotte.
Organizers estimate that approximately 150,000 visitors attended the two-day weekend event, which included a two-day festival in the PNC Bank Festival Zone with local and regional entertainment gracing the Wells Fargo Stage, as well as the Bank of America Charlotte Pride Parade on Sunday. The increase marks an approximate 15 percent increase over 2016, when 130,000 visitors attended the two-day event.
A significant portion of this year’s increase came by way of the historic growth of this year’s Bank of America Charlotte Pride Parade. Charlotte Pride had earlier announced that the parade had now grown to become the city’s largest annual parade. In 2016, the parade attracted a similar number of entrants, floats and individual marchers as Charlotte’s annual Thanksgiving Day Parade, which bills itself as the largest parade in the Southeast. This year, the Bank of America Charlotte Pride Parade grew from approximately 120 entrants to 152 entrants, from approximately 20 floats to 40 floats and from approximately 3,500 individual marchers to over 4,500.
This year’s growth marks a history-making moment for the local LGBTQ community. In just 10 years, the event has grown from a just few thousand attending a one-day festival on private property, to this year’s 150,000 taking over the entire stretch of Tryon Street in Uptown Charlotte.
“Charlotte Pride has grown only to the extent that our vibrant, local community has grown,” said Craig Hopkins, president of the Charlotte Pride Board of Directors. “The event’s growth is a testament to the support of our community members, event attendees, volunteers, donors and sponsors, who altogether make this annual event a success year in and year out.”
Since 2015, the event has contributed more than $19 million in local economic impact from out-of-town visitors, including $11.5 million in direct visitor spending and $699,000 in county taxes raised by visitor spending, according to economic impact reports conducted by the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority.
The annual festival and parade represent the single-largest fundraisers for Charlotte Pride each year. Funds raised by the events support a variety of year-round community programs, including Charlotte Latin Pride, Reel Out Charlotte (formerly known as the GayCharlotte Film Festival) and the organization’s new Charlotte Pride Scholarship for LGBTQ and straight ally high school and college students.
For more information on Charlotte Pride and its programs and activities, visit charlottepride.org.