By Maria Rocha-Buschel
The Pride Parade will end in the Flatiron District this year in a departure from the usual route, organizers have announced.
Heritage of Pride, the group that plans official NYC Pride events, said that the change is in preparation for events next year when the city will be commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots and the first time that New York will be hosting WorldPride, a global celebration of Pride. The new location will be able to accommodate the record numbers of spectators that are anticipated.
The switch is expected to reduce wait times for the more than 350 marching groups preparing to step off. The new route will also allow the parade to go past the relatively new AIDS monument near the site of the former St. Vincent’s hospital at West 12th Street and Seventh Avenue, giving the memorial a place of prominence in the proceedings.
The parade will begin at noon on Seventh Avenue at West 16th Street and go south to the memorial and passing the historic Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street, before heading north on Fifth Avenue and ending at 29th Street. The dispersal points along the new route are wider than the streets in the West Village where the March usually ends so organizers hope that this will create less of a bottleneck and will allow the parade to move more quickly than in in the past. In previous years, the parade started on 36th Street and went south on Fifth Avenue, ending in the West Village.
The March last year was one of the largest Pride parades for the city, with 110 floats, and the parade this year has more than 100 floats as well, including a number of advocacy organizations and local politicians. NBC reported that this year will also include marchers from Major League Baseball and the National Football League, which are participating for the first time ever, joining other sports organizations like Major League Soccer, the National Hockey League and the National Basketball Association.
Billie Jean King, the tennis player who defeated Bobby Riggs in the “battle of the sexes” in 1973 and who has been an advocate for social justice, is one of the grand marshals this year, along with gay rights organization Lambda Legal, advocacy writer Tyler Ford and human rights activist Kenita Placide.
The first Pride March was held in 1970, the year after the Stonewall riots, and while it has since acquired a number of corporate sponsorships, it is meant to be a civil rights demonstration, recognizing the LGBTQ community as well as the fight against AIDS.
The theme for this year’s March is “Defiantly Different” and was chosen in response to the Trump administration’s treatment of the LGBTQ community, according to organizers.
“This year’s theme is about showing our power, squaring our shoulders in the face of adversity and continuing to sculpt that magnetic bond within the LGBTQ+ community and our allies,” NYC Pride co-chair David Studinski said in a statement. “The corresponding creative showcases a wide selection of defiantly different community members, from performance artists to mental health advocates. We are standing defiantly – defiantly different and defiantly as one.”