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Typically, each August, Historic Dupont Circle Main Streets hosts the 17th Street Festival, featuring the work of various artisans and tables touting the work of local community organizations. But the rapid reopening of the city following the COVID-19 pandemic left organizers with little time to organize the large-scale event, so the annual festival was canceled.
Fortunately, a replacement event, just in time for Pride Month, has sprung up this weekend. Thanks to the coordination between Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2B, the Capital Pride Alliance, the 17th Street Merchants, and Historic Dupont Main Streets, D.C. residents will now get to enjoy the 17th Street Pride Sidewalk Block Party on Saturday, June 26, from 12-5 p.m. at 17th Street NW, between R and P Streets.
“We’ll have about 10 vendors on the sidewalk. We’ll have a bunch of tables in parking spaces. So there won’t be any parking from 12 to 5 o’clock along 17th Street. And we’re going to move a lot of tables and chairs into that parking area,” says Bill McLeod, the executive director of Dupont Circle Main Streets. “We’ll have about five nonprofit organizations and five artists stationed on the sidewalk — textiles, and clothing, and a painter, another guy who makes T-shirts, and one who sells handbags. We’re tying to have there be a diverse mix of vendors.
“Dupont Circle Main Streets will be out there. We’ll have a table outside Grubbs Pharmacy and we’re hoping to make a rainbow of Pride wishes. So they’ll let us use their big window, and just fill it rainbow-colored Post-it notes where people can write comments about how we’ve missed Pride or what Pride means to them,” he adds.
While the block party is occurring, attendees are encouraged to frequent some of the local food establishments along 17th Street. Later in the evening, organizers have arranged an evening picnic and LGBTQ+ move night planned for 8:30 at Stead Park, behind JR.’s. Attendees are asked to bring their own blankets, snacks, and drinks for the movie.
“The block party and movie night will be great community events to get us back into the swing of things after COVID,” says Randy Downs, the ANC Commissioner representing 17th Street.
He also notes that the success of Saturday’s event will likely influence whether organizers choose to hold other large-scale events in the Dupont neighborhood in the coming months.
“I’ve been in contact with Capital Pride about doing some events in October, such as a larger parade and a larger block party along 17th Street,” says Downs. “So after this week’s round of activities, we might start to look at that some more In addition, the High Heel Race is always a big event in October. So hopefully the city will allow us to hold that again.”
The 17th Street Pride Sidewalk Block Party will take place on Saturday, June 26, from 12-5 p.m. along 17th Street NW, between R and P Streets. For more information, visit www.capitalpride.org/wakeupdc.
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