CHARLOTTE, NC (WJZY) - More than 120,000 people are expected in uptown Charlotte this weekend for the Charlotte Pride Festival and parade.
“Pride is more than a party. It actually has a lot of symbolic meaning," Charlotte Pride Board Member Matt Comer said.
Charlotte’s Pride Festival kicks off on Saturday with the big parade on Sunday. This year the event is expected to draw more people to Charlotte.
“I think when you come to the parade you might see more signs about HB2 for example, so we might be returning to our roots. Pride celebrations started as a riot," Comer explained.
CMPD said there could also be more protestors with people on both sides of controversial House Bill 2 turning out for the Charlotte Pride Festival.
“We recognize at a large event like this where it’s open to the general public that there are people out there who would seek to do harm to large groups of people like that, and unfortunately we’ve learned from recent events nationally and internationally that events like this would be a target," Deputy Chief Jeff Estes said.
The massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando in June has Charlotte police on high alert for this year’s festival. For the first time, they’ve declared this an “extraordinary event.”
“If we see someone carrying a backpack with some suspicious things that could be suspicious or there could be a logical explanation, we’ll stop and ask, because the stakes are just too high," Deputy Chief Estes said.
You’ll also want to keep in mind that Tryon Street is going to be closed from Stonewall to Trade Streets for the festival. It’s a big celebration, and there’s a plan to protect those who are taking part.
“There are some community members who validly want increased security, and there are other marginalized portions of the community who have some concerns about increased police presence, so we’ve had all of those conversations, and we fully trust CMPD’s ability to keep everybody safe throughout the whole weekend," Comer said.