Thursday, July 9, 2009

Pacific Pride Festival kicks off with Canary Hotel event


July 9, 2009 7:59 AM

The annual Pacific Pride Festival kicked off last night at the Canary Hotel and will continue with various events through Sunday. The main festival takes place on Saturday.

John Bowlin, the chair of the event, anticipates an exciting time for the LGBT community.

"We are offering community-building," said Mr. Bowlin, who is also the Director of Community Events for the Pacific Pride Foundation. "For some young people this might be their first coming-out experience."

Mr. Bowlin said that while the festival is always a time for celebrating diversity, it also offers opportunities that some may find unexpected.

"We have three faith establishments represented," he said, "and we have families of pride, meaning gays and lesbians who have adopted. It's a feeling of celebration for our presence here."

The foundation will host "Stilleto," which is "an official pride girl party," tonight at Whiskey Richards at 435 State St. at 9 p.m. The party will be $7 at the door and will feature DJ FTRTRSH and Luna Bella make-up artists.

Friday night's Pride Pre-party will be at Statemynt at 519 State St. with DJ Gavin Roy at what Mr. Bowlin calls "club time," or 9 p.m. to closing.

The festival itself will be Saturday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. in Chase Palm Park between Garden St. and S. Calle Cesar Chavez. It is the feature event and the one about which Mr. Bowlin said he is most excited.

"Seeing Chase Palm Park filled with people is the highlight for me," he said.

Saturday night's party will be called "Splash" and will be at SOhO at 1221 State St. at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 at the door but will be $15 at the festival earlier in the day. DJ Ducky will be featured, and Joshua Klipp will perform at midnight.

The event will close Sunday night with a free party at the Wildcat Lounge at 15 W. Ortega St. from 9 p.m. to close.

The Pacific Pride Foundation is producing the event for the third year in a row after taking a hiatus for a few years while the community produced it. Before this interval, the foundation produced the festival for 16 years.

Mr. Bowlin explained that the event is a community effort, with significant donations from sponsors such as Pacific Beverage Company, Vons, Canary Hotel and Barefoot Wine.

"We've worked hard on this since Christmas," he said. "A lot of California Prides aren't happening. A 'boutique pride,' as I like to call it here in Santa Barbara, is hard to produce, but we can offer a good festival."

The festival is particularly valuable for those individuals who are just coming out of the closet, according to Mr. Bowlin.

"It's a safe experience for them," he said. "They can observe from the sidelines or be out picnicking. It's a building block to getting involved."

The foundation encourages attendees to take public transportation to the events and is excited that venues such as SOhO and the Canary Hotel are opening their doors for the festival.

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