by Liz Schob (she/her), Communications Manager
There’s a moment in the early morning hours when the sky glows orange with the promise of a day not yet realized. I found myself soaking in that moment during my first festival and parade weekend as a member of the Charlotte Pride staff. A few short hours later, the first attendees would start pouring into Uptown, filling Tryon with a sea of rainbows and glitter.
The LGBTQ+ community is no stranger to legislative attacks, but 2023 has been an especially tough year for us all. Just two days before the 2023 Charlotte Pride weekend started, our own state’s legislature voted to override Governor Cooper’s veto of three bills that are nothing more than thinly veiled attempts to censor our existence in public spaces and prevent our young people from getting the care they need to be affirmed and thrive as their authentic selves. With the veto overridden, these bills will now become law.
Pride started as a protest and that protest was rooted in the idea that everyone should have the right to self-determination, to be able to live as their authentic selves, and love who they love without fear of discrimination or persecution. We still have a long way to go, but as I reveled in those last few quiet moments, I looked around at the growing sea of volunteers and event staff that give their hearts and souls every year to making Charlotte Pride weekend so magical despite the chaos and noise from those who wish to render our community invisible.
It’s those people who give countless hours of their time and their whole hearts into making this weekend happen that have grounded me; 260,000 people may have descended upon Uptown over the course of the weekend, but the heart and soul of the entire endeavor lies with the incredible volunteers who make up our board, festival and parade planning committees, and weekend-of support. Without them, none of this would be possible. Their love and dedication to bringing the Charlotte Pride festival and parade to the Queen City year after year is truly humbling and a great reminder that love, in the end, will always win.
This past year has been tough, but it has also been filled with joy and celebration. Remembering these moments is important, so I thought I’d share with you some data from our 2023 festival and parade weekend to put into perspective just how impactful and important Pride events like ours really are:
By the Numbers
- 260,000 — Initial estimate of how many visitors attended Pride weekend
- 37% — Estimated percentage of visitors who attended Pride weekend for the first time
- 25% — Estimated percentage of visitors who travelled more than 50 miles to attend Pride weekend
- 226 — Number of vendors at this year’s festival
- 216 — Number of entries in the parade
- 101 — Number of parade entries with a vehicle or float of some kind
- 41 — Number of floats in the parade
- 10,000 — Estimated number of individual marchers in the parade
- 44 — Combined number of hours of entertainment on the Charlotte Pride Main Stage, CATS Community Stage, Charlotte Gaymers Stage, and in Flourish: A Celebration of LGBTQ Arts and Culture
Help Us Make Next Year Even Better
Obviously, it’s difficult to fully measure just how celebratory and meaningful Pride weekend was for so many people. That being said, we are always looking for ways to make next year’s event even better, and you can help us do that! We need your feedback to help us understand what can be improved upon, learn what we were successful at, and hear any innovative ideas you have that we may be able to incorporate into next year’s festival and parade weekend.
•Take our 2023 event survey today to give us your feedback and help us improve future events.•