INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Preparations are underway for what’s being called the biggest crowd the Indy Pride Festival has ever seen.
“We’ve had so much excitement, so much online chatter in a positive way about the experiences that people are going to have at the Indy Pride Festival this weekend,” said Chris Handberg, executive director of Indy Pride Inc.
More than 250 vendors were setting up shop in Military Park on Friday.
Ed Negron and Tauz Lozano came all the way from Chicago for the events.
“I came last year just as a spectator with my friends, and it was one of the most inclusive pride events that I had been to. Out of Chicago, we are huge, but this is one where I saw bi flags, I saw trans flags,” said Negron. “It warms my heart because it shows more acceptance in the world for our community, for the LGBTQ community. And we can come out and let our hair down. We don’t have to be on guard. At least one day out of the year, one month out of the year, we can relax and be who we truly are.”
As crews prepared for Saturday’s festival, a crowd enjoyed a first-of-its-kind block party at Downtown Olly’s to kick off the weekend.
“It brings all the people together. As you’re driving around downtown, you’re going to see this block party and you’re going to want to come,” said Indianapolis resident Brian Cook.
“This is huge! This is the new owner’s way of supporting this community and showing how much they want to get involved because they are new to the community, too, and so this is them showing their support,” said Indianapolis resident Kyle Batson.
While the community is looking forward to a fun-filled event, Handberg said the weekend holds a deeper meaning: “This is the day that we can be ourselves. That we can hold our partners’ hands, spouses’ hands, and not feel ashamed or embarrassed. We don’t have to explain to people, we don’t have to answer awkward questions. We can just be with our people and laugh and celebrate. It’s something special.”
Handberg said Indy Pride is working closely with Indianapolis Metropolitan police and Southport police to make sure everyone attending the events is safe.
The Cadillac Barbie Indy Pride Parade starts at 10 a.m. Saturday on Massachusetts Avenue.
The festival at Military Park begins at 11 a.m., includes three stages, a family fun area, hundreds of vendors and food and drink options. Musical performer Lizzo is headlining the festival. Tickets start at $5 and can be purchased here. Parking and festival rules can be found here.