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Indy Pride has many reasons for taking its festival virtual this year

The virtual festival will be held in June.
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Posted at 8:15 PM, Apr 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-09 07:16:23-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Many organizations in Indianapolis depend on summer events to keep them going throughout the rest of the year.

One of those organizations is Indy Pride, Inc. The group recently announced they will be taking their festival virtual instead of optioning for an in-person celebration.

The last in-person Pride festival in Indianapolis was back in 2019. Indy Pride, Inc. Executive Director, Christ Handberg, said there were 55,000 ticketed attendees. It was huge for the organization, the city and local businesses.

“It was just so amazing to be around that energy and support for love for our community,” Handberg said.

Scott Dangerfield, General Manager for Metro Nightclub and Restaurant, said their establishment is always packed on Pride day.

“An absolute madhouse around here for sure,” Dangerfield said.

In fact, that day is the best for business for Metro every year.

“I’m certain it is our biggest day. Period,” Dangerfield added.

But this year will be a quieter Pride day for the second year in a row. Indy Pride, Inc. made the decision to have the event virtually for safety reasons due to COVID-19. It was a decision they also made in 2020.

“I think like everyone else we are excited to open the world back up again, to get vaccinated and come together as a community. But, we just felt trying to host a huge festival in June was a little unrealistic. We wanted to be cautious because many in our community are in those risk groups,” Handberg explained.

Another piece that was factored into the decision was just how much the festival had grown in previous years.

“That was one of the bigger reasons why we decided to hold off that this would be the ultimate super spreader event if we were to proceed forward and numbers were still where they are at,” Handberg said.

The primary mission for Indy Pride, Inc. is to facilitate events for the LGBTQ community, provide programming and community outreach. Handberg said it's actually better for the organization to hold off on an in-person festival to help ensure services and other events are still able to be funded.

“There are economic considerations because if we hold a huge festival and no one shows up or very few people attend that certainly puts our organization in a position where we can’t hold festivals like we used to in the same manner,” Handberg said.

While the choice means another Pride day of slower business for Metro, Dangerfield thinks it’s the right call for Indianapolis to keep the festival virtual for another year.

“I agree with them as far as still not taking any chances with a large group,” Dangerfield said.

Handberg said they are hoping to hold an in person Pride parade in October when more people are vaccinated and more comfortable in large groups.

For more details on the virtual Indy Pride Festival click here.