By Joseph Gaxiola
One of the earliest Pride celebrations of the year is held in Phoenix each April. This year the city’s LGBTQ Pride Festival took place over the April 5-6 weekend. Attendance at this year’s Saturday Pride broke records for both the Pride single day attendance as well as the Pride Festival weekend – 2014 marked another very successful Phoenix Pride Festival!
Phoenix Frontrunners Pride Run
Kicking off this year’s Phoenix Pride celebration was an early Saturday 10k/5k Run and a 5k Walk. Held by the Phoenix Frontrunners, it was their 16th Annual Pride Run. This is the first time that the Phoenix Frontrunners have held their Pride Run/Walk in central Phoenix. The course included the parade route as well as a trip around Steele Indian School Park, the location for the festival.
Starting at 7:00 a.m., the 10k/5k Run and 5k Walk was timed professionally by the USA Track and Field, making it a certified course. There were 238 people who participated in the run/walk this year and included in the fun were vendors, a dj and a rock band for athletes and spectators alike. The award ceremony was held at 9:30 a.m. and once the event was done, a majority of the group walked down the block to watch the Phoenix Pride Parade.
5k Walk – top three fastest times:
1. Kathleen Vermeyen – 40 minutes and 49 seconds.
2. Sarah Fick – 40 minutes and 49 seconds.
3. James Reeves – 43 minutes and 3 seconds.
5k Run – top three fastest times:
1. Douglas Capitan – 19 minutes and 18 seconds.
2. Charles Higgins – 19 minutes and 37 seconds.
3. Jason Hill – 19 minutes and 58 seconds.
10k Run – top three fastest times:
1. Trent Taylor – 35 minutes and 9 seconds.
2. Mac Noyes – 40 minutes and 39 seconds.
3. Thomas Gunther – 40 minutes and 57 seconds.
Brittney Griner from the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury and Olympic speed skater Blake Skjellerup were part of the parade and then both athletes walked around the Pride Festival and were also on the main stage. Lloyd Mays served as the parade’s Grand Marshall with Griner as the Celebrity Grand Marshall.
Well represented in the parade were employees representing local businesses and corporations that included Google, Intel, Go Daddy, Petsmart, Wells Fargo and Bank of America. A contingent from the Phoenix Veterans Administration that included representatives from all five branches of the military made their first appearance in a Phoenix Pride Parade.
Also taking part in the parade were U.S. Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton and Phoenix City Council Members Daniel Valenzuela and Kate Gallego. The cities of Mesa and Tempe had some city employees walking in the parade and Maricopa County was represented by the sheriff and a constable.
This year’s Pride Festival entertainment ranged from headliners Neon Hitch, A Great Big World and Michele Branch, to local headliners that included Phoenix Pride royalty Bobby Jo Valentine and Pride junior contestants.
This year’s Pride Festival sported three new areas – a Kids Space, Beer Garden, and a Health and Wellness Pavilion. Open to any child under 12, the kid’s area featured face painting, slides and other fun activities. The beer garden featured Arizona beers and Arizona wines while the health and wellness area featured groups and activities for the health conscious in the crowd. Tobacco and alcohol were not permitted in the Kids Space or the Health and Wellness Pavilion.