Hampton Roads Pride welcomes the LGBT community, its supporters and all of Hampton Roads and beyond to its annual PrideFest and Block Party in Norfolk, the weekend of June 16-17.
The free, acclaimed PrideFest on Saturday, June 17, with the theme “Out, Loud & Proud,” hosts two international renowned headliners, the iconic “Kings of Disco,” the Village People, and the inimitable dance music doyenne Martha Wash.
A celebration of Naval Station Norfolk’s 100th Anniversary, family fun and games, LGBT history activities and exhibits, all-day dance stage, the nation’s only Pride Boat Parade, non-profit and informational vendors, local foods and drinks, plus other enjoyable displays fill the day from noon until 7 p.m. at Downtown Norfolk’s Town Point Park.
The Sixth Annual Pride Block Party kicks off the weekend from 7 p.m. until midnight, Friday, June 16, inside Norfolk Scope Arena. This year’s “Under the Big Top” circus theme features festive music, dancing and spectacular performers, with all proceeds to benefit Hampton Roads Pride and its mission. Expect the unexpected at this wildly popular all-night dance party which also features guest-appearances by the PrideFest headliners. Each year, this event grows larger with more outrageous fun for the thousands that attend. Guests are urged to arrive early.
“PrideFest is an exciting and dynamic annual celebration of our LGBT community in Hampton Roads,” said Michael Berlucchi, president of Hampton Roads Pride. “The festival is an opportunity to raise visibility around our region’s LGBT and allied communities and serves as recognition of what makes our community special and unique. It is important for all people to know they are welcome and respected in Hampton Roads; everyone should be free to have the opportunity to fulfill their full potential as human beings, no matter who they are or whom they love.”
Now in its 29th year, Hampton Roads PrideFest joins other festivals taking place during June, which is national Pride Month, and is the largest Pride festival in Virginia.
Grace Bonney serves as this year’s Grand Marshal. Bonney was raised in Virginia Beach and is founder of Design*Sponge, the successful art and design blog and online creative community. She’s also author of “Design*Sponge at Home” and “In the Company of Women.”
Many honorary guests scheduled to attend, including US Reps. Bobby Scott and Scott Taylor, members of the Virginia General Assembly, Norfolk Mayor Kenny Alexander and Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms, regional law enforcement officials and their LGBT liaisons, and the Commanding Officer of Naval Station Norfolk.
The Pride Boat Parade, the only Pride Boat Parade in the US, begins at noon on June 17 and will be led by a U.S. Coast Guard vessel. The American Rover is also in the parade, which is hosted by Todd Rosenlieb of TR Dance and Cathy Lewis, of WHRV-FM’s HearSay radio program. The festival also features appearances and performances by the U.S. Fleet Forces Band Four Star Edition, Norfolk Fire Rescue Honor Guard, the Hampton Roads Pride Mass Choir, TR Dance, Teens with a Purpose, and the Cox High School GSA with Color Guard, plus many more surprise guests. Returning again this year is the fun-for-all Club PrideFest Stage, showcasing local DJs and performance artists throughout the day.
The PrideFest family fun and games area offers everything from face-painting to a real-live mermaid. Plus, the Silent Disco returns to delight listeners that can tap into three different DJ tracks on headsets and dance along to the music. The Hampton Roads Pride History Experience offers a guided local history tour and among its displays feature panels from the AIDS Memorial Quilt.
Town Point and Norfolk Scope Arena are fully accessible to individuals with disabilities. As a free service to the hearing-impaired in our community, American Sign Language interpreters are provided for all Pride Stage activities.
Leading up to Pride Weekend is Pride Week. Beginning June 6, ten days of pride-related activities precede the festival and block party, including a roller skating event, art show, interfaith service, and social networking events and a silent auction.
The 2017 presenting sponsors are the City of Norfolk, Decorum Furniture, Newport News Shipbuilding and WHRO Public Media. More information is available online at HamptonRoadsPride.org and updated daily on Facebook at Facebook.com/HRPride.