By Tori Mason

DENVER (CBS4) — The Center on Colfax announced that this year’s Denver PrideFest will be held virtually to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Denver PrideFest usually draws more than 450,000 people to Civic Center Park every year.

“Instead of just cancelling Pride, which means so much to so many, we are working hard to create a variety of opportunities for our community to connect and celebrate virtually,” said Rex Fuller, CEO of The Center on Colfax.

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Fuller says he exhausted every option before making this tough decision.

PrideFest hosts exhibitors from across the country. The two-day event features colorful parades, live entertainment and a 5K race. The event is the largest fundraiser for The Center on Colfax, providing more than $1 million for programs supporting Colorado’s LGBTQ+ community.

Fuller says holding PrideFest online will be a major hit to The Center financially. Denver Mayor Michael Hancock hopes the city will support the virtual celebration.

“I am urging the community to do what they can to support The Center and all the other organizations that benefit from The Center’s services. It’s crucial to do what we can to ensure that nonprofits can survive this time as well,” said Hancock.

(credit: CBS)

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PrideFest organizers are finding ways to keep the spirit of the event alive, indoors.

“We’re encouraging people to decorate their front doors or apartment balconies with rainbow decorations. Like something you’d see for Christmas,” said Fuller. “The idea of PrideFest was just to be out and be proud and to share who your true self is with the rest of the world. You’re not alone. There are people around that support you.”

They’ve already developed online alternatives such as:

  • Virtual parade: The Center will ask community businesses and organizations to enter fun-filled videos that will be live streamed as a “parade” with live commentary.
  • Virtual 5K: People will enter the 5K, run their race and submit their time independently. The Center will reward their efforts with a t-shirt and other prizes.
  • Virtual entertainment: The Center is working to gather online entertainment from performers who were previously scheduled to perform live.
  • Virtual dance party: DJs from various clubs around town will present a dance party via Twitch.
  • Virtual Exhibitor Page: An online marketplace will allow the public to virtually browse a collection of exhibitors who will sell merchandise online.

PrideFest selected this year’s theme as Together We Rise, long before COVID-19. Fuller has never been more confident that this community can rise together again come June.

“I’m already seeing a lot of proof that we’re all going to rise to the occasion and make this event special. Next year, we’ll be able to celebrate in person again and it’ll be even better,” said Fuller.

Organizers will be reaching out to PrideFest sponsors and those who have already applied for exhibitor space and parade participation about their options, including refunds or applying their support to the organization’s virtual celebration, which will take place June 20-21.

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Tori Mason