Metro Weekly

Ashanti and Roller Coasters and Water Slides, Oh My!

Us Helping Us is celebrating the end of summer this Saturday with an LGBTQ blowout at Virginia's Kings Dominion.

Kings Dominion

DeMarc Hickson wants to say one more thing.

“I want to make sure folks know about the all-day meal deal,” he says. “It’s $39.99, and they can get a meal at any restaurant they want every 90 minutes. So if they come at 11 a.m., they can go to [select eateries in the park] and have a taste of Kings Dominion every 90 minutes.”

Hickson is the executive director of Us Helping Us, People Into Living, Inc., which, for nearly 40 years, has been a beacon of health services for the LGBTQ community, particularly its most under-served and marginalized members in Washington, D.C.

“And you get unlimited non-alcoholic beverages with the deal,” Hickson adds. “So all of the Coke products, so the Dasani Water, the orange, the Sprite, all of those. It’s a great deal.”

The $39.99 is an add-on for Pride Night Takeover, happening this Saturday, Sept. 9, at Kings Dominion, the mammoth theme park just outside of Richmond, Virginia. Us Helping Us has rejuvenated the event from the days when it was staged by the now-defunct Brother, Help Thyself, and has turned it into a day-long celebration.

The park opens at 11 a.m. to the general public, but Pride Night Takeover guests can opt to spend the day in the park’s Soak City for an exclusive Wave Pool Day Party. “Our guests can still go to everything else in the park,” notes Hickson.

At 7 p.m., Kings Dominion will close to the general public for the “Pride in the Park After Dark” festivities. Pride Night Takeover guests will spend their evening in the expansive “Jungle Expedition” section, which opened in 2022 and features Tumbili, the region’s first 4D Spin Coaster, along with seven other popular thrill rides, including Flight of Fear, Reptilian, Anaconda, and the Backlot Stunt Coaster.

“We will have seven of the roller coasters open, we’ll have four bars that will be open, and we’ll use their secondary stage there for our celebrity performances before we go to International Street, where we will have the closing DJ and the closing performances for the evening,” says Hickson.

That closing performance comes courtesy of Ashanti, who will be joined by the legendary local DJ Sedrick. Other performances throughout the day and evening will include Inayah, KenTheMan, Miss Mojo, DJ Honey, DJ Lucky and more.

The money raised from the event will help support Us Helping Us services.

“We call it a fundraiser, but we also know that this is something to give back to the community,” says Hickson, who notes the event could not occur without the generosity of its major sponsors — the HIV Vaccine Trials Network, AIDS United, and ViiV Healthcare. “They have been able to infuse financial resources into this event to offset some of the expenditures.”

Hickson says working with Kings Dominion has been “amazing.”

“We’ve been meeting with them since January for this event, and they have just been so receptive. They have been accommodating to meet all of the riders for the artists, they helped us curate the event in terms of looking at the options of where we should be within the park. And Soak City technically closed on Labor Day weekend, but they left it open for one more week so that we can have the day party on Saturday.”

“We are in the business of having fun,” Geoff Zindren, Kings Dominion’s director of communications, says of the park’s support for the LGBTQ-oriented event. “We want you to come to the park and have fun. It doesn’t matter what your background or your beliefs are, everybody screams the same on a roller coaster.”

The Us Helping Us Pride Night Takeover of Kings Dominion is on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2023. The park, located at 16000 Theme Park Way, in Doswell, Virginia, opens at 11 a.m.

The Wave Day Pool Party runs from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and the Pride in the Park After Dark party runs from 7 p.m. to midnight. Tickets range from $64.99 to $84.99 and include parking. The all-day meal deal can be purchased separately for $39.99.

Click this link to purchase tickets, or visit

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