Gay pride parade moving to 14th Street

March 18, 2013

District politicians who flock to the city’s annual Capital pride parade better wear comfortable shoes.

The annual event is expanding north this year to much of 14th Street NW, which organizers say is a nod to area’s rapid growth and the dispersal of the city’s gay community away from Dupont Circle.

In a change first noted by Borderstan, the parade will travel north on 14th Street and end around S Street. The change will expand the parade route by several blocks and take marchers past the Whitman-Walker Health clinic, one of the sponsors of the event.

The parade, scheduled for June 8, will still begin south of Dupont Circle near Rock Creek Park and travel through the 17th street and P street commercial corridors before turning north on 14th Street, said Ryan Bos, executive director of Capital Pride Alliance.

But instead of ending at Thomas Circle, the 170 floats and groups participating in the event will for the first time walk north on newly-developed14th Street, past new restaurants and condominiums.

“Our community has expanded, so we wanted to honor and recognize those businesses that popped up along 14th Street,” Bos said. “We felt many of the businesses are supportive of the LGBT community, so we said lets give it try.”

The annual parade attracts more than 100,000 people to the Dupont and Logan Circle neighborhoods, and can lead to massive traffic backups and parking shortages due to associated street closures.

The mayor, most council members and many candidates running for office traditionally participate in the event, known as the unofficial kickoff of the summer parade and politicking season.

Pedro Ribeiro, a spokesman for Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D), said the administration is supportive of the new route but still needs “to hammer out the last few details.“

Bos said some businesses initially urged the pride community to extend the parade to U Street, but the idea was rejected due to concerns about traffic and safety.

In recent years, the Gray administration has placed greater scrutiny on the organizers of parades in the District neighborhoods.

Last year, the Caribbean Day parade and festival moved to Baltimore after organizers failed to reach an agreement with the city over returning to Georgia Avenue NW. The Gray administration officials noted that the organizers had failed to reimburse the city for $50,000 in security costs associated with the 2011 event.

The District also resisted organizers’ efforts to move the Fiesta DC parade to 14th Street in Columbia Heights.

Organizers wanted to make the change because they said the festival had outgrown its Mount Pleasant location, but District fire officials rejected the proposal because of concerns the new location would block access for emergency vehicles.

Instead, Fiesta DC and city officials agreed to move the celebration to Pennsylvania Avenue Downtown.

Tim Craig is The Post’s bureau chief in Pakistan. He has also covered conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and within the District of Columbia government.
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