CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Last year, 120,000 people came to the Charlotte Pride Festival. This year, organizers expect closer to 200,000 people to crowd South Tryon Street, which would be a record.
Sunday's festivities start at noon and will continue until 6 p.m. The parade is schedule to run from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m. in uptown Charlotte.
One of the reasons for such a large crowd is House Bill 2. The controversial law requires transgender people to use the bathroom of the gender that matches their birth certificate.
"What Pride is designed to do is bring people together, bring people together in the form of expressing yourself freely. When you have legislation like House Bill 2, which stifles that, you're going to find a huge inflow of support from our own community," said Erica Lachowitz, a transgender woman at the festival.
The festival goes all weekend, with the parade on Sunday. HB2 is on many people's mind during Pride Week, even parade floats are House Bill 2-inspired.
For many in the LGBTQ community, the Pride Festival is an opportunity to express themselves freely.
"For the LGBTQ community, Pride is something that's very special and meaningful. You have the freedom to have a drink, party with friends," said Matt Comer, one of the festival's organizers.
The festival includes live music performances and other entertainment.
With large crowds expected, the festival was declared an extraordinary event, which means there was a greater police presence. There was initial pushback by Charlotte Pride, but several conversations with CMPD eased any worries.
"We have a phenomenal working relationship with CMPD, and today, there's no discernible difference with security. Police are doing their jobs, community members are having fun. It's a fun, safe weekend for everybody," Comer said.
Several streets through uptown Charlotte are blocked off for the weekend, but events are centered around Tryon Street.
The parade will start at 9th Street and Tryon and continue to Trade Street before taking a turn toward the Transit Center. The parade will end at the intersection of Trade and College Street.
The Festival continues down Tryon Street from Trade Street to Stonewall Street.
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