by Sonny C. ClevelandNEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA
Pridefest '98 Update: Phenomenon or Catastrophe?
In many lights our new & improved pride celebration has been viewed as a phenomenon. Being named "The Gay Jazz Fest" with all the new venues of entertainment available, the festival has grown. My belief is we and everything around us must be growing & improving all the time. The festival acquired lots of stretch marks to be able to bloom into what she is now at this point in her development. I am proud to say that it has been unanimously in favor, according to the comments and conversations that I and other board members have so far encountered.
The festival was greeted with open arms by the parade participants. The park opened officially at 10am Saturday morning and the parade kicked off at 11am. Around 11am the Mayor called a "state of emergency" and ordered all public parks be evacuated and locked down. At that time the Armstrong Park administrator reported the news to me that we had to shut down. I informed him that there was a parade en route to the park that very minute with police escort and asked him to do something to help us stay open. He called the mayor's office and pleaded our case and got us clearance to stay open till 3pm that day. Around 12:45 the parade arrived at the park and the participants & spectators flooded into the park. With word spreading fast that the fest would have to be closed at 3pm, the attendees still hung around. With all the supporting hugs, thank you's and comments the board received, we were able to raise our heads up after feeling so beat up over the orders to shut down. Around 3:30pm we started shutting down reluctantly.
The Catastrophe Part
Since that weekend we have been bombarded with E-mails and calls to know if the festival is going to be rescheduled. Unfortunetly, due to the amount of deficit Pride has now incurred as a result of hurricane Georges, we must pay off what we owe for this year before can even start planning for next year's 20th Anniversary "Platinum Pride" Blowout Celebration.
We will be providing a financial report within a couple of weeks, but as of right now Pride is in the hole around $16,000. Many offers have been made to assist in doing a "Hurricane Pride Relief" fundraising campaign to pay off the debt so we can get on to planning next year's event. If you wish to help us out by putting on a party, dance, bake sale, cake walk, etc. or by just giving a donation, it is all welcome and badly needed. Please feel free to call the PrideLine at 504.949.9555 to discuss possible options. Please remember that Pride is now 501c3 non-profit tax exempt and all donations are tax deductible and greatly appreciated!
A large "thank you" must go out to all the hands, sponsors and vendors that were a part of the fest this year. We are already working on next year's fest and all those involved this year will be included in the 1999 celebration. Plus a host of other sponsors have already contacted us wanting to be a part of next year's festivities.
A very big "thank you" to a sponsor that really deserves a round of applause is one who has literally rode through 7 years with us in our parade-the suppliers of the carriages that have carried our Grand Marshals. Mid City Carriages has stood by our side for many years and this year they topped themselves. Even with a hurricane threat over our heads they still showed up on time to ride in the parade and escort our honorees Toni Pizanie & Stewart Butler to the park. Thank you again Miss Charbonnet and the Mid City Carriage family!
New board & Alliance elections and nominations are coming up soon. there is an open invitation to anyone interested in assisting in putting on this next year's event and helping to plan for the 1999 Regional Pride Conference, known as P.O.S.E. (Prides of the Southeast) to be held here in New Orleans in the first part of the year. There are a total of 13 board seats and over half of them need to be filled by "go getters" as well as the several committees needed to streamline the festival. There is lots of work to be done and very few hands to do it. In other words...."HELP!" The nomination meeting will be held Oct. 26, 7pm at 1402 Esplanade Ave. (on top of the Esplanade Pharmacy). The nomination process is open to all, but in order to be nominated to the eligible executive board seats which are Secretary, Treasurer, and 2 Vice Chairs, one must bring a bio, with several copies, and your qualifications to handle the positions. The Alliance membership is open to any and all who wish to donate & dedicate a year to the organization. If you have questions concerning the elections, please feel free to contact us at 504.949.9555! Hope to see you there!
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