CHARLOTTE — In its third successful year under the direction of Charlotte’s Lesbian and Gay Community Center, the 2008 Pride Charlotte festival enjoyed another record turnout. According to Charlotte Mecklenburg Police, 10,000 people attended the day-long festival at uptown Gateway Village on July 26.
Raine Cole, one of the festival’s co-chairs, said the event was “fabulous.”

“The turnout was tremendous and there were a lot of new faces in the crowd,” she said. “It was a wonderful day. People were happy and having fun.”

Cole said she’s been pleased with each festival’s growth. “For the second year in a row our attendance has increased by nearly 30 percent over the previous year. We would certainly like to see this pattern continue.”

As for balancing the rapid expansion with financial responsibility, Cole said the organizing Pride Charlotte Task Force “always planned carefully with the goal of coming in at or under budget.”

She continued, “We work very hard trying to keep expenses reasonable without sacrificing quality, which sounds much easier than it really is. Last year, right before our 2007 festival, we began to discuss the emerging economic troubles in the U.S., the impact that could have on our 2008 festival and planning for what lay ahead.”

Cole added that Pride Charlotte leaders are exploring options for a possible change of location to another public venue that affords them even more opportunities for growth.

As for continued diversity measures, Cole said the group worked very hard to ensure equal representation for all portions of the region’s LGBT community.

“Being inclusive, that has always been part of our planning and it is both delicate and challenging,” she said. “The Task Force tries very hard to be inclusive and considerate of the entire LGBT community. We just have to keep reaching out to everyone and doing the best we can with the responses we receive.”

Pride Charlotte photos: