Broadway’s Pride street festival looks to put grassroots days behind it — UPDATE: ‘SAVE 2018 CAPITOL HILL PRIDEFEST’

UPDATE 2/14/2018: City department representatives Wednesday morning voted unanimously at the February meeting of the Seattle Special Events Committee to move forward with Seattle PrideFest, the 2017 organizer of the annual Pride Saturday street festival on Broadway. The move denies a permit to Charlette LeFevre, the founder of the event, based on her organization’s long running challenges working with the city and the revocation of her permit last summer after violating “permit conditions” that city officials say resulted in the injury of an elderly pedestrian and wasted city resources. More here.

Original Report 2/9/2018: Egan Orion, executive director of PrideFest Seattle Center, wants you to know that planning for PrideFest Capitol Hill’s 2018 celebration is underway and ready for more good times come Saturday, June 23rd.

“Plans for 2018 are well underway and we are looking forward to taking our record-breaking attendance last year and extending it this year. It’s the most important day of the year for businesses on Broadway, something we take very seriously,” Orion tells CHS.

Formed with grassroots but ultimately unstable, Capitol Hill’s pre-Pride festivities on Broadway including a street festival attended by thousands of people annually were rescued in 2017 by Orion’s organization after the city balked at permits over opposition from Broadway businesses and ongoing safety concerns.

The event’s grassroots were planted in 2009 by Charlette LeFevre and Phillip Lipson who previously operated a tourist-oriented “mystery” museum on Broadway before eventually moving the business off Hill. Lipson and LeFevre’s festival ran into issues, however, in their repeated efforts to expand from a one-day block party held Pride weekend on blocks of Broadway north of John and E Olive Way. Despite the issues, the event has drawn around 30,000 to Broadway to celebrate Pride, enjoy performances and a doggie drag show, ride ponies, and visit restaurants and bars for food and drink.

In 2013 with support of the chamber, Seattle PrideFest, meanwhile, expanded its activities back to Capitol Hill in Cal Anderson. In 2017 with PrideFest and the Broadway festival moving forward again with competing events, the city stepped in. “Because of public safety violations last year, they were denied their permit and we took over the 2017 festival,” Orion said.

“The new Capitol Hill Pride logo is a black/white unicorn reflecting the colors of the Pride flag including pink representing the large diversity of the community.”

In 2018, LeFevre and Lipson are planning a new push under a new name — Capitol Hill Pride. “The Directors are encouraged that this year’s permitting will go smoother as the last two years saw permitting denial for a second day and severe restrictions which resulted in a decreased attendance at the 2017 festival under former Mayor Ed Murray favoring other Pride events during his re-election campaign,” they write in the announcement of the new effort. In addition to LeFevre and Lipson, Capitol Hill Pride includes Hill legend Boe Oddisey, according to the organization’s press release.

Orion says PrideFest is now the “historical producer” of the street festival and is ready to again partner with the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce and the Broadway Business Improvement Area to run the event this summer.

Business support for the PrideFest production of the festival is strong. “Fortunately, the city has processes in place where you can hold festival organizers accountable to being good stewards of the neighborhood and it became really clear that the historic organizer had, at the beginning, really did important work in keeping that event up here, but had become more and more disengaged from the businesses that should have been benefiting from and were being negatively impacted by the street festival,” outgoing chamber director Sierra Hansen told CHS about last year’s issues.

“I’ve had businesses come in and tell me that it was their single highest grossing day in their history of operating in Capitol Hill. I had businesses come and tell me in the past that they basically shut their doors [during pride] who came back and said ‘actually we did really well that day,” she said.

LeFevre and Lipson, meanwhile, still have some cleaning up from last summer to deal with. According to King County District Court records, north Broadway bar Bait Shop successfully sued the organizers in small claims court for not refunding rental booth space for an “event the organizers never put on.” A judgement of $1,206 was entered last December.

UPDATE: The Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce and the Broadway BIA are calling on members to support the PrideFest takeover of the event with a weekend “ACTION NEEDED TO SAVE 2018 CAPITOL HILL PRIDEFEST” email:

Earlier this month, the Broadway BIA board approved a sponsorship for the 2018 Capitol Hill PrideFest event. This sponsorship is reflective of a history of working together positively and collaboratively on numerous events such as 2017 Broadway PrideFest and Clean Sweep.

On Thursday February 8th the BBIA was informed that two separate organizations have filed special event permits to organize the Capitol Hill Pride event on June 23, 2018.

IT IS CRITICALLY IMPORTANT THAT YOU CONTACT THE CITY OF SEATTLE AND ASK THEM TO APPROVE THE CAPITOL HILL PRIDEFEST SPECIAL EVENT PERMIT.

COMMENTS MUST BE RECEIVED BY TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 13TH AT 4:00 PM and should be sent to specialeventsoffice@seattle.gov. The Special Events Committee will review this feedback at the Wednesday, February 14, 2018 Special Events Committee meeting, followed by potential vote overseen by the City Attorney’s Office.

OUR FEEDBACK IS IMPERATIVE TO ENSURE THE 2018 EVENT IS A WELL-ORGANIZED, RESPONSIVE AND COMMUNITY-DRIVEN EVENT.

For more information about participating in the Capitol Hill PrideFest event or permit process, please contact bbia@caphillchamber.org.


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