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Savannah Pride returns with Halloween theme, free Ellis Square concert

  • Jay Lawson, a sound design major at SCAD from Queensbury, N.Y., watches a performance at the Pride Festival in 2016. (Josh Galemore/Savannah Morning News file photo)
  • Jordan Opher, a freshman at SCAD, gestures to a friend as he dances with a crowd of people during a performance by DJ Scott Robert at Pride Fest in Forsyth Park in 2015. (Josh Galemore/Savannah Morning News file photo)
  • Bec Lowe and Theresa Long sing along to the song “Seasons of Love” during the 2016 Savannah Pride Festival at Forsyth Park. (Josh Galemore/Savannah Morning News file photo)
  • Jacob Meyers, a SCAD student from Swainsboro, plays cornhole with his friends Taylor Mew and Sydney Thomas during the Pride Festival in 2016. (Josh Galemore/Savannah Morning News file photo)
 

Savannah Pride returns with Halloween theme, free Ellis Square concert

24 Oct 2017

With a masquerade party, drag queen-led trolley tours, a free family party and concert in Ellis Square and more, this year’s Savannah Pride Festival is bringing the fun downtown with something for everybody.

Savannah Pride, from Oct. 26-28, will feature several big changes from past years’ events. This is the 18th year of the annual celebration that aims to bring the community together and raise awareness of LGBT issues.

According to Savannah Pride festival director Dusty Church, the group decided to change the normal platform for the annual event to spotlight Halloween in “America’s most haunted city.”

“For 40 or so years, Halloween is the biggest day on the gay calendar,” he says, and laughs. “It’s also known as the ‘Gay Christmas’ — that started in the ’60s in Los Angeles … and eventually spread to every major city that has a ‘gayborhood.’”

The weekend kicks off with the Masqueerade on Oct. 26 at The Mansion on Forsyth Park.

“This will be our signature kick-off event for years to come,” Church says. “It’s a costume party that I would describe as a macabre burlesque ‘Moulin Rouge’ with a Halloween twist.”

The LGBT Center Gala will be Oct. 27 with all proceeds/donations benefiting Savannah’s first LGBT community center, which opened this summer. Pacci After Dark is a VIP exclusive party at Pacci Italian Kitchen in The Brice Hotel.

While everyone is used to heading to Forsyth Park for the main festival, this year’s event will be at Ellis Square, with no admission charge. Pride in Savannah: Downtown Takeover will be from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 28 with live entertainment, family friendly fun, education workshops and seminars, the One Archive LGBT History Exhibit and an LGBT art exhibit.

Grammy-winning singer and actress Estelle will headline the event with a concert at 2:45 p.m., Church says, adding, “She’s best known for her duet with Kanye West called ‘American Boy.’”

Moving the festival is all about including the community, he says.

“… One of the biggest reasons we brought the main event out of the normally gated-off area in Forsyth is to reinforce our mission of visibility,” Church explains. “Our goal is to improve the image of our community and expose the Savannah community to us. It gives everyone the opportunity to see us as family members, business owners and contributing members of the community.”

The new location also allows for more collaboration with surrounding businesses to offer passes to local art galleries, restaurants and bars. Guests can purchase a $5 wristband to receive discounts at local businesses.

“The wristband will get you discounts on tours and entrance to museums, and drink specials to bars around Ellis Square that are partnering with us …We wanted it to be as inclusive as possible.”

And you can’t have the Savannah Pride Festival without the annual after party. This year’s event is the Bootleg Spirits party at 10 p.m. Oct. 28 at Ghost Coast Distillery.

“We are piggy-backing on their haunted distillery tour and turning that into a grand finale party. It should be a fun and exciting night for everyone.”

Church adds a phrase that he says he uses a lot: “The whole thing will be uniquely Savannah.”

He moved to Savannah from Los Angeles several years ago and picked the city based on what he sees as a positive, welcoming community.

“Not only is the city stunningly beautiful, but we felt it was a community that would accept us. It’s unique. I use the phrase uniquely Savannah all the time. It’s unlike any other place I know. It’s inclusive, diverse, creative …

“That’s why we are excited about the growth of the Savannah Pride Festival, because it gives us the chance to showcase that uniqueness.”

IF YOU GO

What: Savannah Pride Festival 2017

When: Oct. 26-28

Where: Various locations

Cost: Free to main festival Oct. 28; prices vary per event; VIP All-Access passes are $100

Info: savannahpride.com or facebook.com/prideinsavannah

SCHEDULE

Masqueerade

7:30-11 p.m. Oct. 26 at The Mansion on Forsyth Park, 700 Drayton St. Tickets are $30, $15 for students with ID.

LGBT Center Gala, Pacci After Dark

Oct. 27 with all proceeds/donations benefiting the Savannah LGBT Center, 1515 Bull St. Pacci After Dark is an exclusive VIP All-Access party at Pacci at The Brice Hotel, 601 E. Bay St.

Pride in Savannah: Downtown Takeover

11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 28 at Ellis Square. Estelle concert at 2:45 p.m. Free admission; ticketed VIP Lounge; $5 wristband for downtown business discounts.

Bootleg Spirits After Party

10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Oct. 28 at Ghost Coast Distillery, 641 Indian St. Tickets are $20, ages 21 and older.

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