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Pridefest takes step back toward Peace Plaza

Rochester's Pridefest celebration took an important step towards maintaining its downtown presence on Wednesday night.

The Pridefest committee recommended that the Gay and Lesbian Community Services approve a split venue with the first three days being held at Wicked Moose Bar and Grill and Sunday's vendor fair hosted in the Peace Plaza. GLCS will consider the recommendation at its May 18 meeting.

If approved, Pridefest would be celebrated July 14-16 at Wicked Moose and the final day would be held at Peace Place. Rochester Downtown Alliance Director Jenna Bowman confirmed that Peace Plaza remains available to rent on July 17.

"There was a lot of discussion," said Gale Julius, co-chair of the Pridefest committee. "It was not a unanimous decision, but we did recommend that it be moved to downtown. We had received a lot of telephone calls and emails that helped us make that decision. The community spoke to us."

The annual event that celebrates and raises awareness of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community has been a fixture in downtown Rochester for nearly two decades, but was shifted out to the belt line after RDA raised the rental price for Peace Plaza and Wicked Moose offered its space for free.


However, that decision caused a backlash within the community among those who preferred that it remain in a highly-visible public venue in downtown Rochester. It also prompted an immediate fundraising effort that raised a sufficient amount to cover the RDA's increased rental fees, Julius said.

While Julius said the exact dollar amount remains unclear, Pridefest had targeted at least $2,500 to cover the cost of renting Peace Plaza and any ancillary costs. A GoFundMe account raised more than $1,000, while the organization itself has received direct donations through its website.

Rochester Mayor Ardell Brede also dipped into his discretionary mayoral fund to support the group's presence at Peace Plaza, Julius said.

"We heard from our community in a big way and we made our decision accordingly," Julius said. "We're grateful for Mayor Brede … and we're so glad to have the support of the Kutzky Park neighborhood."

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