KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – A big crowd is expected for this weekend’s Knox Pridefest in downtown Knoxville. Organizers bill it as an open celebration of music, entertainment and speakers focused on promoting equality and inclusion of all people.
It comes as LGBTQ+ people have become steadily more visible in our community and around the nation, but that visibility comes with pushback. With that in mind, precautions are being taken to keep people safe as they celebrate.
“Real excited for everyone to come and have a great time,” said John Camp, special events coordinator with Knox Pride.
Camp says Knox Pride has been working on a safety plan for months with the Knoxville Police Department.
“Every year feels pretty safe, I think. We have a pretty good turnout of people who are like-minded, caring and allies. The police are here for us, protect us and work with us,” Camp said.
Knoxville police will manage security, traffic and crowd control along the parade route. Officers will be present at Pridefest at the Knoxville Civic Auditorium and Coliseum to check bags and screen festival-goers with a metal detector.
“Well, we don’t want to talk about tactics and operation plans too closely. Suffice it to say we have a robust plan, a strong response and there will be a strong presence of officers that will be seen by everyone and we’re hoping that will diffuse any potential problems,” said Deputy Chief Kenny Miller.
Organizers say those marching in the parade down Gay Street will be required to wear wristbands.
“Just to make sure who is there is there, being able to identify that yes this person wants to be here, this person should be here and it should make everyone feel safe. We know that they’re here for the right reason,” said Camp.
KPD says if you see something concerning during the festivities, say something.
“Pulse Nightclub in Orlando kind of changed everything in terms of these types of events. So we’re there, we want to make sure it is safe and we feel comfortable that it will be,” added Miller.
Part of planning this year’s Pride festivities included severe weather procedures in case a storm hits.
“Rain or shine the parade and festival will still happen no matter what. If there are thunderstorms or inclement weather that’s threatening people, we urge you to go to the nearest parking garage and hopefully it will pass over soon. That’s the big thing, keep yourself safe, keep your family and friends safe,” said Camp.
Everything kicks off Saturday morning starting at 10:30 with the Pride parade down Gay Street. From there, Knox Pridefest will happen from noon to 8 p.m. at the Knoxville Civic Auditorium and Coliseum.