Beaumont Pride coming this weekend
The Pride Parade and Festival scheduled for June 21 in downtown Beaumont, the first of its kind in the city, is meant to bring Beaumonters from a variety of backgrounds together in a celebration of diversity, highlighting good will among people of all races, ages and sexual orientations, according to Beaumont Pride Committee Chair Shawn Hare.
The Pride event kicks off Saturday morning with a Pride walk starting at 11 a.m. Sign-in is at 10:30 a.m. and takes place at the 1500 block of Broadway Street at MLK Boulevard in Beaumont. The walk ends at Orleans and Fannin downtown. There is no fee to participate.
After the walk, attendees will be treated to a multi-venue day of excitement, Hare said. The event features street performers, vendors and food trucks as well as a variety of other entertainment throughout the day, including more than a dozen bands.
There will also be an “Art Walk” set up along the sidewalk. Participating area businesses include Orleans Pub & Patio, Orleans Pavilion, Suga’s Deep South Cuisine & Jazz Bar, The Gig, Nell’s Place and The Art Studio Inc. A variety of vendors will have entertainment, drink and food specials available to participants. The Beaumont Police Department will close Orleans Street between Fannin and Forsythe where the event is being held until noon so vendors and performers will have time to set up shop.
Hare said, in addition to numerous city leaders he expects to attend the event, Glen Maxey, the first openly gay member of the Texas Legislature, will be the Grand Marshal of Beaumont Pride.
“It’s amazing! We are so glad that he is participating,” said Hare.
Hare said such an event has been talked about for some time, but the time has finally come.
“I think the idea of Pride has probably been tossed around for years here,” Hare related. “I believe that the right group of people were voted in, and now we have the right people here at the right time running with the ball. That’s why it’s all happening now. It’s been a long time coming. There have been Pride festivals for like the last 50 years around the country.”
Hare said it took work, but with help from the City of Beaumont and Code Enforcement Director Chris Boone, they were able to secure the permits necessary to ensure the event goes off without a hitch.
“We got many permits, yes,” Hare said. “Many thousands of dollars of permits.”
Hare encouraged the public to attend and have a great experience while helping local charities.
“Even though Pride is not labeled as a fundraiser, all the money we take in is donated to charity,” Hare asserted. “We’re donating to the Southeast Texas Food Bank, the P.A.L.M. Center, Some Other Place, Triangle AIDS Network, the Beaumont Heritage Society. Also, instead of vendors giving us registration money or a fee, we just had them send direct donations to one of those charities. We raised many thousands of dollars for charities just by having this event already. We’ve raised over $1,000 for the food bank already, you know, just in the last couple of months. We want to help out and give back to the community as a community.”
Hare said he and the committee have heard from friends from Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, Houston, Baton Rouge, New Orleans and more who plan to attend the event. He said because this is the first local Pride event, he is not sure how many people will attend.
“You never know,” said Hare. “I think it’s going to be well over a thousand people.”
He said the event could promote economic growth in the area and will assuredly bring “fresh eyes” that he hopes see the potential of downtown Beaumont.
The event begins at 10:30 a.m. A schedule of the event can be viewed on the Pride group’s Facebook page, Beaumont Pride.
Prior to the event, there will be an official Pride Pre-Party At The Logon Café at 3805 Calder Ave. in Beaumont starting at 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 19.
Sharon Brooks can be reached at (409) 832-1400, ext. 241, or by e-mail at sharon [at] theexaminer [dot] com.