Annual Santa Cruz Pride Parade returns—with a twist
When the Diversity Center of Santa Cruz was thinking about a slogan for this year’s Pride Parade and Festival, its organizers immediately thought of Dan Savage’s “It Gets Better” campaign and the Gay Straight Alliance’s “Make it Better” campaign. “We wanted to riff on that theme,” says Jim Brown, executive director at the Diversity Center. “Some teens can’t wait for life to get better—they need to do something now.”
By bringing the community together, support for the LGBTQ community can accumulate and grow and, Brown says they “pulled the pieces together and came up with ‘Make it Better Together.’”
The positive slogan can also be applied to the event itself. Faced with a significant decrease in revenue, workers at the Diversity Center realized they would need to scale back their annual festival if they wanted to simply break even. But, they wanted to be certain that a smaller event did not translate to a decrease in the spirit of the festival.
The reason for the changes is economic. “Every year, the Diversity Center produces Santa Cruz Pride at a cost of about $25,000,” Brown explains. “The event raises just enough money to cover costs.” By scaling back on the amount of booths and shortening the time of the event, the Diversity Center will be able to save $15,000 while still celebrating the acceptance and pride of the LGBTQ community.
The need to cut back resulted from the 50 percent loss in booth rentals and sponsorships, two of the event’s biggest sources of revenue. And with the Diversity Center’s $15,000 savings is also a $15,000 decrease in revenue. The event will break even, as in past years, but the center will not make money for additional programs and activities.
“For us, scaling back seemed like the most responsible thing to do,” says Brown.
The two most significant changes are the location and time of the event. The parade used to begin on Pacific Avenue in Downtown Santa Cruz and continue to San Lorenzo Park, where the stage and booths were set up. This year, the event (Sunday, June 3) begins with a parade that still runs along Pacific Avenue but fades at Cooper Street. (Participants can gather at 9 a.m.; parade starts at 11 a.m.) Following the parade, a street festival will continue until 2 p.m. In past years, festivities would carry on until 5 p.m.
A stage will be set up at Pacific Avenue and Locust Street. Locals and supporters can stop by to listen to proclamations from the city and county, and watch performances by spoken-word poet Lex, band Frootie Flavors, CHEER San Francisco!, and more. Booths will be set up along Pacific Avenue, but there will be fewer than in previous years—about 25 booths. Some booths will be informational, and others will support local businesses. A dance floor will be set up on Pacific Avenue, with DJ Reb on hand.
“Every year, the event has been in San Lorenzo Park—that location became a long tradition, and it’s sad to change it,” Brown admits. But, he believes the location move will bring exciting opportunities. In the festival’s new, more centralized area, visibility for the LGBTQ community will increase. People walking around Downtown Santa Cruz will be drawn to the festivities.
The center’s goal is to make their Pride event endure in the currently challenging economy. But Brown is confident about future Pride festivals. “As the economy improves and financial support for the event grows, we hope to scale Pride back up in the years ahead.”
Pride events take place on Sunday, June 3. For more information, or to get involved, visit diversitycenter.org.