ABOVE: Come Out With Pride board members (L-R) Marc Espeso, Nate West, Karen Brown, Clayton Altman, Jeff Prystajko, Blue Star and Joyce Almeida at the 2019 events announcement July 31. (Photo by Jeremy Williams)

ORLANDO | Come Out With Pride (COWP) announced its official theme, entertainers and list of events during a press conference at The Venue in Orlando July 31.

“2018 was a spectacular year. The weather was perfect and we had a lot of changes; the layout changed, we added a new stage, we added a huge new Marketplace, the energy level was absolutely incredible and we want to keep that going,” said COWP Board President Jeff Prystajko during the press conference.

COWP announced that the theme of this year’s parade and festival will be “Heroes.”

“It’s the 15th year of Come Out With Pride as well as the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots,” said Prystajko. “There’s a lot of history that goes into this and a lot of things that make up that feeling of what Pride is all about, but what is it that we are really celebrating? We are celebrating the people in our community who helped us get there. They are heroes.”

Prystajko was joined on stage by COWP Entertainment Director Blue Star to announce each of the COWP events that will take place from Oct. 6-13.

“Last year, we started this adventure of creating a whole week of Pride,” Star said, “and we are going to do it again.”

Starting on Sunday, Oct. 6, COWP will again partner with the Zebra Coalition for the Drag Race 5K at Harbor Park in Baldwin Park. Local drag queens will emcee the event which kicks off at 2 p.m. with the GSA Pep Rally. The run begins at 4 p.m.

Monday, Oct. 7 will be Pride Happy Hour at The Hammered Lamb in the Ivanhoe Village. The event runs 6-9 p.m. “There will be food, drinks and live entertainment. It’s just a nice way for us all to gear up for the week,” Blue said.

Tuesday, Oct. 8 will be a new event, #Transformation Tuesday at Southern Craft and Southern Nights, starting at 7 p.m. “This will be a night of trans appreciation,” Blue said. “Enjoy cocktails and/or mocktails at Southern Craft and then head over to Southern Night’s theatre where Axel Andrews will be hosting the show.”

Wednesday, Oct. 9 continues the celebration with two events. The first will be The Pride Chamber’s monthly Business Connect mixer. The event’s location as not been released as of yet.

The evening’s other event will be “Gayme Night with Pepe: Truth or Dare Edition” at Savoy’s Starlite Room starting at 7 p.m.

“It’s a great show and it was a Fringe sell out and we are happy to bring our theater community into the week,” Blue said.

Thursday, Oct. 10 will be Industry Night. “A lot of our industry folks work on Friday, Saturday and Sunday … we will have more information coming up about that night later because why would we reveal everything at once,” Blue teased.

Friday, Oct. 11 will be COWP’s Launch Party at Stonewall Bar starting at 7:30 p.m. Stonewall will once again take over Church Street with Pride’s big kick-off to the weekend. Along with local talents, the event will feature special performances by recording artist Neon Hitch and DJ Kitty Glitter.

Also happening up the street, starting at 7 p.m., will be the Orlando Magic’s Pride Night at the Amway Center.

Saturday, Oct. 12 is the big day with The Most Colorful Parade starting at noon around Lake Eola. The parade will feature more than 150 groups marching the one-mile parade route through downtown Orlando.

The festival will be back as well with a “bigger and better” Marketplace, a Kids and Family Zone sponsored by Kids Fringe, One Magical Weekend’s Club H20 and two entertainment stages.

Each of COWP’s stages will feature a headliner. International pop star Pabllo Vittar will headline the Pride Stage and Broadway legend Jennifer Holliday will headline the Amphitheater Stage.

The party will continue after the Lake Eola fireworks display at the Parliament House with COWP’s official after party.

Sunday, Oct. 13 wraps up the Pride celebration with a pair of events. Pride Recovery Brunch at Ember Orlando will start at 3 p.m. Come recover from your week of partying with a Sunday Funday filled with bottomless mimosas, a delicious brunch spread and live music and performances.

Finally, at 4 p.m. at The Plaza Live, the Lesbian and Gay Band Association featuring the Central Florida Sounds of freedom will present the concert “Locking Back, Marching Forward.”

COWP’s festival and parade will also be the first major event in Orlando after the city commission’s ban plastic straws, plastic bags and polystyrene single-use containers goes into effect on Oct. 1.

“We got on board and said this is something we wanted to be committed to. We want to be a model, not just for other events here in the city, but for other Prides as well,” Prystajko said. “We are working with a lot of suppliers to find different ways to be more eco-friendly and really positive for the environment. We will be doing a big push to make sure people are recycling in the park and be encouraging a lot of positive behaviors.”

for more information on all of COWP’s events, as well as to check out volunteer and donating opportunities, visit ComeOutWithPride.com.

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