Attendance looked to be massively up this year, despite the oppressive (for Detroit) heat on Saturday (high of 92 F). I don’t know if this will actually result in higher revenue for the festival, since a lot of people didn’t donate for their admission. There seemed to be a lot of people who were not necessarily “family” but who just showed up to see what was going on. Which is totally cool. You could drink anywhere in Hart Plaza, whereas in Ferndale you were confined to the beer tent, so that probably helped drink sales.
Sunday’s parade was small, but not a bad start, considering its the first year they did it. I am confident next year, with more time to plan, register, and recruit, it will be bigger and more elaborate. Highlights included the Obama campaign, which had a great turnout of volunteers marching; lots of church congregations; and the ethnic floats, including Al GAMEA and a Latino group.
As I predicted, it did not seem to result in a lot of spillover to downtown businesses. Jefferson Avenue is just too formidable a barrier. The area of downtown adjacent to Hart Plaza may be architecturally significant and even visually impressive, but it dwarfs its small number of dining and drinking establishments, and so you did not see throngs of people milling around outside the festivals.
A big contingent of the gays made their way up to Royal Oak to see Robyn, as I did, Saturday night. The crowd there was, not surprisingly, much less diverse than that at Hart Plaza: mostly affluent, white, well-dressed, attractive guys in their twenties and thirties, and I saw a lot of familiar faces. Not better; just different. We danced like no tomorrow, which made up for my missing DEMF last weekend. Ann Arbor was especially well represented, somewhat to my surprise — lots of UM boys I knew there.
All in all, it was a risky move that seemed to pay off. I am very glad that the Pride committee made the decision to move down to Detroit proper, and might even consider volunteering to help plan next year’s event.