Taylor Dayne Headlines Delaware Pride
"This was the Katrina of gay prides," joked Jade Esteban Estrada.
Estrada, an award-winning singer and entertainer, served as the emcee for the 2011 Delaware Pride Festival, which took place on Saturday, Sept. 17, at Cape Henlopen State Park near Rehoboth Beach.
Thick overcast and cool temperatures marked the start of the festival, which celebrated its 15th anniversary. The inclement weather kept attendance down throughout the day-thousands attended last year’s Delaware Pride. Most of the venders left by mid-afternoon after torrential rains and gusty winds moved into the area.
By 4 p.m., only a handful of diehard attendees huddled together under a small pavilion to watch the entertainers start performing. Following featured singer Kelly King’s performance, Estrada told the crowd that the festival was ending early but festivities would continue at the Atlantic Sands Hotel in downtown Rehoboth Beach.
"We had the space available and were happy to be supportive of the community," said Christopher Guidone, director of sales and marketing at the Sands.
The Sands’ staff and festival volunteers transformed the hotel’s restaurant into a makeshift cabaret space, which allowed for the remaining featured entertainers to continue their performances. The remaining attendees were shuttled from the festival to the hotel. And dozens of others who were happy to be inside (and dry) joined them.
Singer Pepper Mashay got the crowd back into the groove with a set of her signature dance hits. Comedian and singer Jonny McGovern (a.k.a. the Gay Pimp) followed her. Entertainer and transgender activist Calpernia Addams joined him on stage.
"I had never been to Delaware before but I came and refused to let the rain rain on my gay parade," said McGovern.
Many attendees echoed McGovern’s comments.
"Despite the rain, everyone has been having a great time and lots of fun," said Andrew Zeltt, who previously served as a board member of Delaware Pride and has watched it grow significantly over the years.
Zeltt traveled from Wilmington to be part of the event and to celebrate the passage of Delaware’s civil unions bill. Governor Jack Markell signed the measure into law in May. Zeltt plans to have his civil union ceremony with his partner of 14 years in April after the law takes effect on Jan. 1.
All thoughts of the inclement weather outside disappeared for Zeltt and the other attendees when Grammy-nominated singer Taylor Dayne made her appearance and closed out the evening.
In spite of her best efforts, however, could not fully salvage the weekend for Pride organizers.
"We are definitely going to take a very big [financial] hit," said Steve Newman, the current president of Delaware Pride.
Donations to help cover Delaware Pride’s projected losses and to help support next year’s festival can be made online at www.DelawarePride.org.