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As the stormy weather dissipated at dusk on Friday, June 9, it left at least one rainbow over D.C. in its wake. The rainbow turned out to be a good omen for the 2006 Capital Pride highlights to follow over the course of the weekend. Saturday’s Capital Pride Parade traversed the district smoothly, and perfect weather helped pull seemingly record crowds to Sunday’s Capital Pride Festival.
”The whole week was full of highlights, but especially the crowds at the parade and festival,” says Dave Mallory, who marked his first year as director of Capital Pride. ”It was amazing to stand on the main stage and see the community. It was a wonderful week of events.”
Larry Stansbury, a longtime veteran volunteer at Capital Pride, and responsible for security at all the events, says he helped initiate Mallory by having him view the empty Pennsylvania Avenue festival site early Sunday from the main stage. Hours later, just before Thelma Houston took the stage, when the festival was at its zenith, he had Mallory look again as a sea of thousands celebrated GLBT pride in the shadow of the Capitol.
”I did it to show Dave what it really means,” says Stansbury. ”When you see that many people enjoying Capital Pride, enjoying what you’ve put together — unless you’ve done it before, you don’t get it.”
While there are no official figures, Stansbury guesses that Sunday’s crowd surpassed any Sunday attendance in his Capital Pride memory, which dates back to the 1970s.
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”We had the largest parade ever, and I think we could bear out that we had the largest festival attendance ever,” he reckons. ”We can base that on my experience and what I’ve seen before. I’ve seen 250,000, and this was well above that.”
Though the official financial tally is some days off, Kim Mills of Whitman-Walker Clinic, the organization that produces Capital Pride, says the high attendance bodes well for the financial success of this year’s Capital Pride, which costs about $200,000 to pull off.
”We’re still waiting for some bills to come in, but it’s a very good sign that we’re still counting cash,” says Mills. ”Most of that is from beer and alcohol sales. We definitely had higher sales of beer and alcohol this year. Everything went extremely well. It was a very successful week all around.”