Denver PrideFest 2016: your guide to all things pride

Disco boots help make Charlie's sparkle. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
Disco boots help make Charlie's sparkle. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
Disco boots help make Charlie’s sparkle. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Break out your rainbow flag — Denver PrideFest is here.

This year, the annual celebration comes just one week after an unimaginable attack on the LGBTQ community. With dozens and dozens of people dead or injured after the shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Pride weekend in Denver takes on a bit of a different tone than in previous years.

But Denver PrideFest will go on with determination and renewed purpose. Last night, the GLBT Community Center of Colorado shared a statement on Facebook that read:

“We want you to know that we are determined to carry on with PrideFest this weekend as planned. We won’t let this horrible tragedy scare us back into the closet.”

Below is your guide to all things Pride — the festival, the parade, the bars and security.

Where and when is the parade?

It’s right here:

Pride Fest Parade 16
(Provided by GLBT Colorado)

The officially-named Coors Light PrideFest Parade begins in Cheesman Park at 9:30 a.m. Sunday, June 19. 

Because 2016 brings the 40th anniversary of the founding of the GLBT Community Center of Colorado, this year’s theme is “Building Community Through Pride.” The grand marshals will be seven of the original founders and people who have served as CEO for the center: Paul Brothe, Judy Calhoun, Bob Janowski, Christi Layne, Carol Lease, Carlos Martinez, Donaciano Martinez, Phil Nash, Bill Olson, Deb Pollock, Richard Reed, Greg Rowley, Cherly Schwartz and Mike Smith.

Parades are too slow. I want to run.

Well, aren’t you ambitious!

The Big Gay 5K is at 10 a.m. Saturday, with a route from Civic Center Park to Cheesman Park and back.

Registration is $27.94. Packet pickup is from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday at the GLBT Center, 1301 E. Colfax Ave., or from 9 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. on race day.

All ages are welcome and, you know, you’re welcome to walk the Big Gay 5K, too.

A solidatity rally and vigil at Tracks in reaction to the Orlando massacre on June 12, 2016. (Andy Kenney/Denverite) orlando; denver; colorado; lgbtq; rally; andy kenney; denverite; tracks;
A solidarity rally and vigil at Tracks in reaction to the Orlando massacre on June 12, 2016. (Andy Kenney/Denverite)
What about the rally?

The rally will be held at noon on Sunday at the Greek Amphitheater. Organized by the GLBT Community Center of Colorado and ONE Colorado, the rally will include statements from local, state and national officials. Governor John Hickenlooper is among those scheduled to speak, according to John Pushkin, who is working PR for the festival.

Who is performing at the festival?

Here are the top-billed artists booked on the Center Stage at the Greek Amphitheatre:

  • CeCe Peniston, the award-winning, hit-making artist behind “Finally,” will perform at 3 p.m. Sunday.
  • Latrice Royale of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” will perform at 3 p.m. Saturday .
  • Nina Flowers, also of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” plus “RuPaul’s Drag U” and “RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars,” will perform at 3:45 p.m. Sunday.
  • Cazwell, an openly gay American rapper, songwriter and DJ, will perform at 4 p.m. Sunday.

And there are dozens more artists on the bill.

I’m feeling artsy. Where’s my outlet?

One feature unique to this year’s festival is a sculpture being built by Denver artist Lonnie Hanzon in the middle of Civic Center Park.

“It’ll be like a big chalkboard people can write on,” Pushkin said. “There will be a colorful way for people to express themselves. By the time the festival is over, it’ll go from looking like an empty chalkboard on Saturday to something very colorful and different on Sunday.”

Last year he made a giant wedding cake for PrideFest.

My pet has pride. How can she participate?

Does your dog like costumes? Do you just pretend your dog likes costumes? Then you’re in luck.

The Dogs in Drag costume contest is at 12:15 p.m. at the Center Stage at the Greek Amphitheatre. The contest will not last longer than 25 minutes. Registration will begin at 11:45 a.m., or you can register online in advance.

A $5 donation is requested and a portion of the proceeds will benefit the GLBT Community Center of Colorado.

Dogs must be leashed and vaccinated. One animal is explicitly prohibited by Denver Parks & Recreation ordinance, and it’s snakes. (We presume you should not bring a goat, though.)

Competition categories include most unique pet costume, funniest pet costume, best owner and pet costume, and best dog in drag.

Are there activities for kids?

There will be a family area set up at 14th Avenue and Broadway. The PrideFest Kids Parade begins there at noon on Saturday, and it will be followed by non-competitive talent show for kids 12 and younger at 12:30 p.m.

Here’s the part that will make you jealous: Kids get a petting zoo. It will be open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday.

Help me navigate the festival.

Here’s a handy map with everything you need to know. The red arrows indicate lesser-used entrances that you should use to help alleviate bag-search lines.

(Provided by GLBT Colorado)
(Provided by GLBT Colorado)
Speaking of bag searches — what are the rules, and what’s being done to keep us safe?

Great question. A lot of the rules have to do with beverages. Here are the official rules as laid out by the organizers:

  • No coolers.
  • All bags are subject to search.
  • No outside alcohol allowed.
  • No open beverage containers allowed into the park. This includes water bottles. Only factory-seal water or soda bottles allowed. There are free water fountains inside the park.
  • Guests will not be allowed to carry beverages outside the fenced perimeter.
  • No weapons of any type allowed in the park.
  • No pot allowed in the park. Public marijuana smoking is illegal in Denver.

Now, safety. In the wake of the shooting in Orlando, security is even more of a priority than usual.

“There have been lots of meetings, and practiced organizers are working really closely with the City of Denver Office of Emergency Management, the police department and the mayor’s office,” Pushkin said. “They have really put an increased focused on safety and security so that everybody who comes to Pride Fest will feel safe and secure.”

Denver Police spokesman Sonny Jackson said that in addition to working with organizers and businesses, the department is staying in very close contact with state and federal partners. There were no threats when we spoke to Jackson on Thursday afternoon.

“We’re going to be out there in large numbers,” he said. “If you see something unusual or that’s out of place, please notify us right away … I can’t stress enough, we need additional eyes from the public.

What’s happening at the bars?

Here’s a quick rundown:

  • At Charlie’s, 900 E. Colfax Ave., they’re throwing a “NEON Filth” party all weekend. Text “CHARLIES” to 54900 and you’ll get a free drink.
  • X Bar, 629 E. Colfax Ave., has a variety of events going on, including happy hours, dance parties and a “wet underwear shower contest.”
  • The Wrangler, 1700 Logan St., is hosting a glow party Friday night, SWEET (“our signature high energy, hot bear, dance party”) Saturday night and #BeerBust on Sunday, hosted by the Denver Gay Man’s Chorus and HeyDenver.
  • Tracks, 3500 Walnut St., kicks things off Friday night with a party for women’s pride. Saturday is Drag Nation night and on Sunday night, Lance Bass performs.
  • Blush & Blu, 1526 E. Colfax Ave., is throwing a “HER Pride” party on Saturday night and a parade-viewing block party on Sunday.
Well, it sounds like I’m going to need a ride.

Good. Please don’t drink and drive. Uber is offering an automatic $20 discount on rides to “places around Denver that are important to this history and culture of the local LGBT community.” That includes the GLBT Community Center of Colorado, Tracks, X Bar, The Wrangler, Compound Basix, Blush & Blu and the Gender Identity Center of Colorado.

Will there be street closures?

You bet. The following streets will be closed beginning on Friday:

  • Bannock Street from Colfax Avenue to 13th Avenue, beginning at 7 a.m.
  • 14th Avenue from Cherokee Street to Broadway, beginning at 7 a.m.
  • Colfax Avenue, eastbound, from Cherokee Street to Lincoln Street beginning at 6 p.m.
  • Colfax Avenue, westbound, from Lincoln Street to Cherokee Street, beginning at 6:30 p.m.
  • Broadway from the 16th Street Mall to 13th Avenue, beginning at 7 p.m.

All streets will reopen at 11:59 p.m. Sunday.

I want to help out.

That’s great! Start by checking here for volunteer opportunities. To sign up, you’ll need to register with Metro Volunteers, if you haven’t already. Once you’re signed up, you should get a confirmation email.

Next, review the volunteer FAQ and the volunteer orientation information, the take the five-question orientation quiz.

That’s it. You’re ready to help. And for your efforts you’ll get a free meal and T-shirt.

Questions? Contact volunteer program manager Juli German at jgerman@glbtcolorado.org.

Ashley Dean

Author: Ashley Dean

Ashley Dean covers dining and nightlife, and other odds and ends. She previously covered music and did some copy editing for the Denver Post, the Colorado Daily and the Daily Camera. She's from New York, likes her bourbon straight and has strong opinions about Kanye West. She can be reached at adean@denverite.com, 303-502-2804 or @AshleyDean.