The raising of the rainbow flag kicked off the Greater Palm Springs Pride 2014 weekend Friday. This year’s theme is “I Am Pride: Stonewall 45,” which honors a Civil Rights movement by the gay community in New York back in 1969.
More than 20,000 people will attend the 3-day event and with changes this year Pride president Ron deHarte expects even more.
“The big thing is the pride festival is free, so the entire community can come and have a great time and it’s all downtown,” said deHarte.
For the first time, the festival will transform Palm Canyon Drive into a celebration of the LGBT community at no cost. The festival, which includes live entertainment and dancing, was formerly held at the Palm Springs Stadium.
“We’ve grown so much we don’t fit in the stadium any longer. So that’s one key reasons why we had to find a new venue,” said deHarte.
Some business owners say they’re bulking up on staff to help serve festival goers.
“Everyone’s working, it’s a holiday. Pride is always one of our best weekends of the entire year. And definitely that shot in the arm at the end of summer that we all really need. said Mindy Reed, owner of Zin American Bistro. “Don’t really know what to expect. I’m excited and apprehensive at the same time. We’re going to go with it and see what happens.”
“I think this is a different feeling, a different vibe. There’s going to be dancing, beer tents, a lot of reasons to come downtown. I think not only all of the restaurants are going to benefit, but also the merchants.”
Rocket Fizz soda pop and candy shop has a lot to celebrate. It opened its doors Thursday in Palm Springs just in time for the colorful weekend.
“We have the disco ball. We have lights, we have music. We’re all going to be dancing, jamming and singing, perfect for Pride weekend,” said general manager Elle Watt.
Watt hopes attendees will shop away and no matter what age, they’ll enjoy being kids in a candy store.
“We’re pumped for it. We’re excited to see what the Pride Weekend can bring,” said Watt.
The Pride parade marches off at 10 a.m. Sunday.