CHARLOTTE, N.C. — One of Charlotte's biggest weeks is turning into a season as Charlotte Pride plans to restart in-person festivities including its parade in October.
"We cannot wait to see everybody this August through November for what we are calling 'Charlotte Pride Season,'" said Matt Comer, the communications director for Charlotte Pride.
In a press release, the organization said it plans to have in-person events while still having the option to scale up or scale down the plans depending on how the pandemic plays out.
"Our first priority will always be the health and safety of our community," Comer said.
The decision comes as thousands in the community get vaccinations and restrictions are taken away.
It also comes after a year in which Charlotte Pride was forced to cancel all their in-person festivities in 2020 and move to all-virtual events.
"We are very excited to be coming back in person after missing last year," Comer added.
In 2019, Charlotte Pride week brought in some $8 million to the Queen City according to the organization, but not in 2020 thanks to the pandemic.
Uptown businesses, which have been some of the hardest hit by restrictions due to COVID-19, are thankful to have the event back in action and hopeful it will bring new and old visitors through the doors.
"Every event that we have is so important to continue to put Charlotte back on the map and to let people know we're open and ready for business," said Chris Baliles, the director of food and beverage at Merchant and Trade in Uptown.
The announcement prompted management to look into expanding the rooftop bar and restaurant's planned drag show brunch.
"We might even do it on a couple days just depending on how all of the dates end up," Baliles added.
The popular restaurant donates and partners with organizations that help the LGBTQ community, including The Trevor Project.
Some employees also take part in the parade year after year.
"We've had a float in the past, and we hope to do that again," Baliles said.
After more than a year of Uptown being a ghost town, Pride is a boost they've waited for.
"It'll be just like the old days, so we'll be very very full," Baliles added as he smiled.
The streets will be full, too, with thousands taking pride in who they are.
"For many people, it might be the first time or only time where they can be together with thousands and thousands of people who are just like them," Comer said.
Charlotte Pride hopes to have an exact date for the October parade in a few weeks.
Below are the scheduled events from August until November:
Charlotte Pride Weekend of Service, Aug. 21-22 — Kicking off Charlotte Pride Season with a community-wide opportunity to give back, with volunteer and service opportunities throughout Charlotte, on what would have been the 2021 festival and parade dates.
Charlotte Pride Interfaith Service, Sept. 12 — Charlotte Pride’s traditional Interfaith Service, this year hosted in a new location with expanded opportunities for fellowship.
Pride Night! A Charlotte Pride Concert Event, Sept. 17 — A day-long concert event featuring local, regional, and national LGBTQ artists and entertainers.
Charlotte Pride’s Pop-Up Pride Festival, Sept. 18 — A truly unique, truly local celebration of Pride in the Queen City, the Pop-Up Pride Festival will feature special zones and activations throughout Uptown, providing a familiar festival feel while avoiding the full crowds that normally attend the festival.
Charlotte Pride Parade, October — Charlotte Pride plans to host a normal, in-person parade in October. A final date will be announced soon.
Reel Out Charlotte, Nov. 5-7 — The Queen City’s Annual LGBTQ Film Festival returns to Camp North End for a weekend of LGBTQ short and feature films.
Charlotte Pride Community Empowerment Conference & Job Fair, Nov. 13 — An expansion of the 2019 Charlotte Trans Pride Job Fair, this one-day event will bring together educational and community-building workings with a job fair expo for all those seeking new work and those looking to learn more about our community.