DURHAM — North Carolina Pride Parade and Festival organizers are hailing new local partnerships and anticipated entertainers as they wrap up their final plans for this year’s 26th annual events.

Slated for Sept. 24-27, NC Pride Weekend will include several events and its signature day festival and parade on the Duke University East Campus on Saturday, Sept. 25.

Asheville’s Gay Men’s Chorus, Cantaria, will perform at NC Pride, along with tenor Maurio Hines. Photos courtesy NC Pride.

“This year’s event at Duke East Campus will continue our legacy of gay-and-straight community-building and gay rights awareness building. Following our signature manner, it will be bright, positive and focused on what we’ve accomplished together,” Keith Hayes, spokesperson for the Pride Committee of North Carolina, said in a release.

The first Pride march in the Triangle occurred in Durham in 1981, a protest and awareness initiative after the beating death of a young man presumed to be gay. Since 1986, a parade has been held every year. At one time, the parade and festival traveled to different parts of the state.

For the first time, organizers are proud to announce new partnerships with the Towns of Chapel Hill and Carrboro. A special NC Pride Weekend Tour package, in collaboration with the Chapel Hill Visitors’ Bureau and Triangle Travel Service has been made available, complete with a two-night stay at a local hotel, tours of area attractions, great food and other events. Following in Durham’s footsteps, Chapel Hill and Carrboro will also hang rainbow flags on their main streets during the weekend.

At the weekend’s highlight event, the day festival and parade, organizers will present Asheville LGBT singing group Cantaria and tenor Maurio Hines, along with Triangle Gay Men’s Chorus and Common Woman Chorus. Speakers include openly lesbian Carrboro Alderwoman Lydia Lavelle, keynote speaker Shannon Gilreath and others.

At the festival, organizers plan to hold a health fair, with “Ask the Doctor” seminars by Dr. John Pittman. Scores of other vendors, ranging from non-profits to businesses, will also have booths and tables at the festival. A parade is set to begin at 1 p.m. and is expected to draw more than 100 groups, at least 2000 marchers and more than a dozen large floats. The one-mile parade route will take revelers down Durham’s Broad, Ninth, Markam and Main Sts.

This year’s parade grand marshal is attorney Diane Walton of Asheville. Openly gay Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt and NC Pride March founders will join her in the parade.

For more information, visit ncpride.org. : :

See our full NC Pride Preview on page 16 of our Sept. 18 print edition. Pick one up at any of our distribution points today!

Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.