CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte Pride Festival & Parade organizers have released estimates estimated attendance records for the Aug. 17-18 event. This year there were 200,000 that visited the two-day festival, topping the 2018 record of 165,000.

A contributing factor to the significant rise in attendance was the observance of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York. Across the globe, the LGBTQ community has been celebrating the milestone by way of festivals and other observances throughout the year. The June 1969 Stonewall Uprising has been widely credited as the catalyst which launched the modern movement for LGBTQ equality, organizers shared.

Charlotte Pride organizers said that they took special care to craft this year’s event with the legacy and memory of Stonewall in mind — from the event’s annual Interfaith Service on Aug. 9 to expanded activities and opportunities for a diverse, intersectional LGBTQ community during the festival and parade weekend. The service included reflections of Stonewall and the beginnings and history of the Pride celebration in Charlotte. It was held at Caldwell Presbyterian Church, the very place where the interfaith service began over a decade ago.

“Our Movement for Queer Liberation has come a long way since those fateful days in June 1969, yet there’s so much more that we must continue to fight for,” Charlotte Pride Board of Directors President Daniel Valdez said. “Our community is multi-racial, multi-generational and non-binary. We are black, immigrant and Muslim. We’re entrepreneurs, teachers, construction workers, lawyers and low-income workers. We want affordable housing, living wages, economic opportunity, a brighter future for our kids and our environment. All of these voices, experiences and identities have been always been present in our movement, but today they are becoming more visible. We must continue to create spaces for these voices and stories to be shared and to be heard.”

According to Charlotte Pride resources, the Charlotte Pride Festival & Parade is one of the largest annual civic events in the city and the largest of its kind between Atlanta and Washington, D.C. In 2017, it became the city’s largest parade, by number of individual marchers and parade contingents. In 2018, the event contributed more than $7 million in local economic impact, including nearly $240,000 generated in Mecklenburg County taxes.

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Here is a photo gallery provided by photographer Randi S. showcasing some of the sights of the festival and parade.

Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden and a contingency of First Responders participated in the parade for the first time and McFadden says that they will be back next year. The group even had specially designed T-shirts created to mark the occasion. The sheriff told qnotes that he represents the entire community in the county and not a segment of it. He was proud to be part of the Stonewall 50 and the parade. Here are some photos he supplied.

Lainey Millen

Lainey Millen was formerly QNotes' associate editor, special assignments writer, N.C. and U.S./World News Notes columnist and production director from 2001-2019 when she retired.