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NYC Pride March to deliver bold message to nearly 2 million spectators

The annual event is designed to inspire an “unflinching stance” against anti-LGBTQ+ policies.

NYC Pride is expected to draw 48,000 marchers

NYC Pride is expected to draw 48,000 marchers and attract 2 million spectators. Photo Credit: David Handschuh

The upcoming NYC Pride March will boast plenty of resistance to regressive policies, according to organizers.

The march’s theme — defiantly different — is designed to inspire New Yorkers to take an “unflinching stance” against policies that negatively impact LGBTQ+ communities, according to James Fallarino, media director for NYC Pride.

Fallarino said LGBTQ+ communities have been targeted by President Donald Trump’s administration, so some 48,000 marchers and 2 million spectators will be particularly fired up about supporting gay rights.

Beyond the traditional scope of Pride, participants are likely to tackle other concerns, such as the Trump administration’s practice of separating detained immigrant children from their parents, Fallarino said.

“That’s what’s so great, is that the platform can be used in different ways,” Fallarino added.

NYC Pride has historically focused on the West Village, but over time, celebrations have spread across the city.

Participants will step off from 16th Street and Seventh Avenue at noon on Sunday and head south past the city’s AIDS memorial, near 12th Street. Marchers will then curve east on Christopher Street and pass the Stonewall Inn, then turn onto West Eighth Street and head north on Fifth Avenue until the march hits 29th Street.

Fallarino said the new route relies on wider avenues and was designed to keep marchers moving at a brisk pace. 

“Last year’s march lasted nine hours,” he said. “We had marchers who were marching in the dark, and that’s not fun.”

The new route also provides larger viewing spots for spectators and an area that's compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, per the NYPD.

"We are pleased that our great working relationship with organizers of the Heritage of Pride March has developed a plan and a route that stands to enhance the experience for spectators, and greatly reduce the wait times for the hundreds of marching groups eager to step off," NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill said during a Friday news conference on security.

The NYPD declined to detail how many officers will be stationed along the route, but said both uniformed and plainclothes cops would be present. The department's critical response command, which is trained for anti-terrorism work, as well as its strategic response group, which is trained to handle tense public situations, will be on hand.

For a second year, WABC/7 will televise the event, which is expected to attract a slate of notable New Yorkers, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and members of Major League Baseball and the National Football League.

Tennis legend Billie Jean King will lead the marchers as one of four grand marshals. King’s advocacy for women’s and LGBTQ+ rights has had people applauding long after she retired from her standout days on the court in the 1960s and '70s, Fallarino said.

“We really want to celebrate a sports figure of this stature,” Fallarino said.

Other grand marshals include author Tyler Ford, Kenita Placide, executive director of the Eastern Caribbean Alliance for Diversity, and the Lambda Legal non-profit organization.

Fallarino said Pride organizers will be watching Sunday’s celebrations carefully, as they prepare for the city to host World Pride next year. Since 2000, revelers have periodically traveled to a designated location for one large World Pride march.

The 2019 World Pride will fall on the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, where demonstrations protesting a police raid of the West Village gay bar helped launch the gay rights movement.

“We want to keep an open mind on this; we want to see what worked,” Fallarino said of World Pride organizing efforts.

With Lauren Cook and Shaye Weaver

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