August 29 was warm and sunny and the perfect day for The 15th Annual Jersey City LGBT Pride Festival. The event, co-hosted by Hudson Pride Connections and Gayborhood Jersey City—and organized by Hudson Pride Connections Center—took place on Newark Avenue between the PATH Station Plaza and Jersey Avenue. (Last year it was held in front of city hall.) Approximately 9,000 people attended, according to the Jersey City Fire Department (compared to unofficial attendance of 2,500 in 2014). This year boasted 69 vendors and sponsors (mostly local but some from as far away as Boston and Erie, PA); last year there were fewer than 40.
All this growth was by design. “I believe the new location proved to be a success,” said Eddie Baez, co-founder of Gayborhood Jersey City, “because it drew a diverse crowd from the neighboring communities and it’s close proximity to the PATH helped attract many people from NYC.”
Emceeing this year’s festival was the performer Harmonica Sunbeam, an advocate and educator in the LGBT community, who hosted the very first JC Pride event in 2001. Other features —new this year—included additional stages, carnival-style performers (such as aerialists and entertainers on stilts) roaming the grounds, and a red carpet for photo ops. Combined, these elements made for the interactive experience that Baez and his co-producers sought. “We wanted to create an atmosphere that would be fun for everyone,” Baez said. “I believe we succeeded in that.”
JC Pride plans to continue its outreach in 2016 with events in Greenville and Bergen-Lafayette in addition to Downtown, Journal Square and The Heights. Baez predicts the 2016 festival itself will be “bigger and better with the same sense of community involvement.”
See some of the sights from this year’s festival in our photo gallery below.
Photos by Mickey Mathis[See image gallery at www.jerseycityindependent.com]