PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The capital city is gearing up for the annual Rhode Island Pride celebration this weekend.
Festivities will kick off Friday night with downtown bars and restaurants holding different events.
One of the marquis events is PrideFest. It’s being held on Saturday afternoon from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.
More than 200 vendors will be at the festival including social resource organizations, food trucks and more.
The “Illuminated Night Parade” will take place at 8 p.m., which will feature lit-up floats, performing artists and marching groups. This parade is one of the only few across the country.
President of Rhode Island Pride said that while the festival is fun, there is a purpose behind the event.
“LGBTQIA+ plus people are still marginalized, we are still attacked,” said President of Rhode Island Pride Joe Lazzerini. “Queer and trans people of color are people murdered in the streets across this country and around the world and until every single member of the LGBTIQIA+ community can walk down the street without being harassed or killed because of who they are then there is still a lot more we have to do.”
PrideFest comes to Providence just a week after shots were fired at PVDFest, and Mayor Jorge Elorza said police will be stepping up patrols for the event.
“The reality is this day in time you can never ever assure anyone 100 percent that nothing will happen,” said Mayor Elorza. “But I don’t think the response anyone should take is to crawl up into a corner and never come out.”
Mayor Elorza said there will be a mix of city and private security at PrideFest, some in uniform and some not.
The parade will begin at Fulton and Dorrance Streets. A main viewing area is located near the Providence Performing Arts Center (PPAC).
Providence hosted its first Rhode Island Pride event in 1976, with just under 100 participants. This year’s events are expected to bring in more than 100,000 participants.