Christopher Street West, the non-profit that stages the annual LA Pride Festival and Parade each June, was criticized last year for high ticket costs, for turning ticket buyers away from an overcrowded festival space and for not accommodating enough non-profit organizations.
This year CSW, under the new leadership of Executive Director Madonna Cacciatore and Chair Estevan Montemayor, is proposing a major modification to the footprint of the annual LA Pride Festival to create “Pride on the Blvd” a weekend-long free festival on Santa Monica Boulevard from La Cienega Boulevard to Doheny Drive.
A memo from the city’s Economic Development Department recommends that that section of Santa Monica Boulevard be closed from 10 a.m. on Friday, June 7, to 7 a.m. on Monday, June 10. Stretches of the boulevard would remain accessible to local traffic, allowing access for residents and many local businesses. The memo also recommends closing Robertson Boulevard from Santa Monica Boulevard to Melrose Avenue from 8 p.m. on Friday, June 7, through midnight on Monday, June 10. As in years past, San Vicente Boulevard would be closed from Santa Monica Boulevard to Melrose Avenue from 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 6, to 7 a.m. on Monday, June 10.
The Pride Festival traditionally has been held in West Hollywood Park, and in recent years has included the plaza on the San Vicente side of the Pacific Design Center. However, construction related to the redevelopment of West Hollywood Park has reduced the land available for the festival in the past two years. By closing and including a stretch of Santa Monica Boulevard, the festival area will be increased.
The “Pride on the Blvd” festival “will feature a combination of exhibitors, non-profit organizations, a local artists showcase and an art installation commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots,” says the city memo. The Pride Parade would take place on Santa Monica Boulevard from Crescent Heights to Robertson Boulevard on Sunday, June 9, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. On Saturday, the AIDS LifeCycle riders would ride through the fire lane adjacent to Pride on the Blvd.
The West Hollywood City Council on Monday will be asked to approve the modification to the Pride festival footprint. The closure will cost the city $418,000 to pay for Sheriff’s deputies
Other changes proposed by CSW and endorsed by the city’s Economic Development Department include:
— Relocating the Pride ticketing area to trailers on Santa Monica Boulevard between Palm and Hancock avenues. That would relieve congestion from the main gates to the festival.
— Staging a free Friday night event in West Hollywood Park to kick off the Pride weekend.
— Producing a live televised broadcast of the Pride Parade, which includes a number of floats sponsored by major companies and marchers representing LGBT groups and organizations.
The broadcast would take place in Sal Guariello Memorial Park and be televised on a local network.
— Placing grandstands for seating along the parade route between Kings Road and Alfred Street.
— Hosting an invitation-only Sunday brunch to celebrate the transgender community.
Local drivers would have limited access to Santa Monica Boulevard between Doheny Drive and Robertson Boulevard and between Hancock Avenue and La Cienega Boulevard.
The City Council will consider the CSW proposal at its meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Monday at the City Council Chambers, 625 N. San Vicente Blvd., south of Santa Monica. Parking is free in the five-story structure behind the Chambers with a ticket validated in the lobby.
It’s about time! Kudos to Estevan and Madonna for their out-of-the-box approach attempting to make Pride a more open and accessible event for everyone. Leave the music and alcohol and for-profit exhibitors on the inside of the fences, and let the rest of us celebrate freely out on the (wonderfully car-free!) boulevard! After last year’s disaster of a festival, new ideas are welcome, even if they result in some puke on my front walk (which I’m sure they will) and lost sleep (which is part of living in a vibrant area of town like Boy’s Town).
NEWS FLASH to “Joey” and “Michael”, Halloween is ONE night a year. This proposal is for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Try coming up with a better pitch next time.
If the city can support 500K people on Halloween, Why can’t they support 200k on Pride Weekend? I love the idea of closing down the streets. It would be awesome to have a car free SMB all weekend!
This is huge! Wow, good for CSW. Hopefully the city says yes and gives them even more space. Recreate what the city does for Halloween. It’s time. Do it now while the CSW leadership is willing and still listening to the community.
Wonderful idea – and FINALLY! People have been clamoring to open Pride up to the Blvd for decades! It’s been a shame that “LA” Pride has been quarantined in a small sized community park that requires max zoom on google maps to even make out. Get this done City Council, NOW!
I love this idea for so many reasons, but specifically because 1) this is a practical solution to the issue of overcrowding that occured last year; and 2) it reinforces WeHo’s belief that public open spaces, which include streets, should be multi-purpose and community serving assets that don’t only exist for the sole purposes of vehicular travel. I hope the City Council approves this concept and thank CSW’s leadership for being bold and thinking outside the box (or park)!
This is exactly what has been needed for the LA Pride weekend. It has been too much gated exclusivity and not enough community engagement–hopefully more in line with the very successful Halloween Carnaval. Bravo to Ms. Cacciatore and Mr. Montemayor for their leadership in making it a reality.
Closing Santa Monica Blvd from Friday – Monday for Gay Pride? Please don’t. We’ve had to deal with people parking, peeing and having sex in our neighborhood regardless of how contained the organizers think it is. Expanding it so more debauchery can transpire will only lead to stress on law enforcement, residents and businesses.
How long have you lived in West Hollywood? I’ve lived here for 20+ years, and I accept and embrace our LA Pride Festival. It has been here for decades. Seriously, if you can’t deal with it one weekend out of the year (and also, Halloween, which is one night a year, taking up less than 12 hours of street closures), then maybe you just moved to the wrong neighborhood. Consider a trip to Palm Springs, Laguna, Santa Barbara, San Francisco, Hawaii, or just about anywhere else for this 60 hour weekend, if you can’t stand it? Odds are, it has… Read more »
JF, I think you are being a little dramatic. I lived in the middle of the mayhem for 5 years, on Larrabee, right behind Micky’s. I moved a few blocks east from there a few years ago. You are acting like there are riots, or something. Are you honestly contending that your property gets “destroyed” every year during Pride? As far as noise goes, I expected that every year that weekend, when I lived in the middle of it all. Same with Halloween. You don’t have to go all the way to Hawaii. My point is, if you moved to… Read more »