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Pride creates 'unique opportunity' for businesses to showcase Charlotte's hospitality

After two years in COVID-19 hibernation, Charlotte Pride returns to Uptown. And not only will there be big crowds, it's big money for small businesses.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte Pride is back in person for the first time since 2019 and that means big business is back for the city.

Hundreds of thousands of visitors will spend millions of dollars once again, as Pride will have in-person gatherings for the first time since before the COVID-19 pandemic. The last time Pride was in person, 200,000 people were in Charlotte for the events. Organizers are expecting an even bigger crowd this year. 

The Charlotte Pride offices are buzzing with anticipation for the biggest fundraiser of the year: A giant street festival that hasn't happened since 2019. 

"We are beyond thrilled," Matt Comer, director of operations for Charlotte Pride, said. "We finally have the opportunity to bring the city's largest street festival and parade back to Uptown after two years of a pandemic hiatus."

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The fundraiser isn't just big money for Pride. It's big money for the city of Charlotte and local businesses. In 2019, 200,000 people spent $8 million during Pride weekend. 

“Several hundred thousand dollars in local hospitality taxes taken, 10,000 hotel rooms in the city," Comer said. "We think it's a unique opportunity, especially for folks in the service and hospitality sector to really take advantage of visitors who are coming into town."

Restaurants in Uptown believe this weekend could make or break their summer. 

"We're super excited for it to come back," Chris Baliles, the director of food and beverage for Angeline's and Merchant and Trade, said. "Last year was rough. We were planning for the event and then it got canceled. This year will be a huge weekend, we have a lot of events to go along with Pride. Two drag brunches in Angeline's and an afternoon party at Merchant and Trade."

Comer says Charlotte Pride is expecting people from all over the Southeast for the two-day event. 

"More than 20% of our visitors come from more than 50 miles away," he said. "Of course, a lot of that is in our region, but we see folks from New York, Florida, Washington D.C. We've had folks from California."

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All of those folks will be sampling Charlotte and spending money while they're here. 

“We think a lot of people regionally are going to be coming to Charlotte to celebrate and were excited to welcome them all,” Baliles said.

“It’s about coming together to show the rest of the world we have struggled triumphed and were resilient," Comer said. 

The Pride parade is the flagship event of the two-day festival and it will be held Sunday in Uptown. Click here to learn more about the Charlotte Pride parade, including a map of the route. 

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Charlotte Pride facts

Charlotte Pride held its first festival in 2001 and was due to present its 20th annual celebration in 2020. Charlotte Pride will belatedly mark its 20th anniversary with special events this year.

Charlotte Pride held its first parade in 2013.

In 2017, the Charlotte Pride Parade became the city’s largest annual parade, by the number of entrants and marchers.

Annual events each year include the festival and parade, an interfaith service, and a variety of other social and community events leading up to the event.

In addition to the annual festival and parade, Charlotte Pride presents several other events and activities during the year through its programs including Charlotte Latinx Pride, Charlotte Trans Pride, Charlotte Women’s Pride, the Charlotte Pride Scholarship Program, Charlotte Pride Interfaith Service & Programs, and Reel Out Charlotte, The Queen City’s annual LGBTQ film festival.

2019 Charlotte Pride economic impact

  • $8.05 million in total economic impact
  • $4.79 million in direct visitor spending
  • $284,000 in Mecklenburg County taxes
  • An estimated 200,000 visitors
  • An estimated 23,000 out-of-town visitors
  • Over 10,000 booked hotel rooms

Contact Michelle at mboudin@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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