The evolution of DC's Pride Week, and where it goes from here

Bernie Delia, board president of Capital Pride Alliance, discusses the history of Pride Week and the group's ambitious plans for 2016.

Tell us about the evolution of Pride Week.
The change has been remarkable – 2015 marked the 40th anniversary of a continual Pride celebration in DC. There have been other things done before, but nothing took off and was repeated the way this celebration has been for 40 years. It has gone through many iterations over four decades, but we have continued to expand.

It is now a multi-day celebration. I am not sure we can estimate the number of people who were at the first one – but now we have about 250,000 people who are attending just the festival. Considering all the other events, it is probably close to 350,000 people.

How are you reaching out about Pride’s celebrations?
We have seen an increase in sponsors, which has in turn increased our footprint and presence in the community. Each sponsor we add – for example Marriott and Hilton – has affinity groups that are happy to find out their employer is participating and sponsoring Pride. That brings us additional volunteers and more exposure.

We also have a website, and we leverage Facebook [which has more than 15,000 likes], Twitter [8,000 followers], and Instagram. We still use print media, both The Washington Blade and Metro Weekly, and we’ve had stories in a number of other publications.

We also partner with radio station Hot 99.5. It is a principal sponsor of the concert that is held in conjunction with the festival on Sunday. It runs a lot of our advertisements, so that has also helped us expand our reach.

What is coming up?
Almost as soon as we close up on one year, we start planning for the next. We had an
extraordinarily successful celebration in 2015, in almost every respect. We heard that from every segment of the community that participated.   

We hit a home run and we’d like to do even better next year. Currently, we have two things coming up. In conjunction with National Giving Back Day on December 1, the alliance will hold an event that night. And in January, we host our Pride Reveal, an event where the organization lets folks know what the theme is for 2016 and what our plans are for that year.

About two years ago, we began an initiative called Pride 365 as a way to emphasize it’s not just a parade on Saturday and a festival and concert on Sunday, but it runs throughout the entire year.

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