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Howard County Pride canceled due to coronavirus pandemic

This year’s Howard County Pride has been canceled, joining the long list of county and state events forced to postpone or cancel after the growing threat of the coronavirus has spread across the country.

The second annual Howard County Pride was set to take place June 27; now those plans will have to wait until next year, said Jumel Howard, president of the Howard County Pride group.

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“We [had] been monitoring the developments regarding COVID-19 for some time now. It’s been difficult to see how things were going to unfold because you get different messaging from different people,” said Howard, 24, of Columbia.

The inaugural event to celebrate the county’s LGBT community attracted 10,000 people to Centennial Park in June 2019. This year, the celebration was to move to Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods in downtown Columbia.

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Inner Arbor Trust, the nonprofit that controls Merriweather Park, had originally suggested the event be postponed until the end of the year. Howard said with increasing uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus, he felt canceling would be a better decision.

Earlier this week, the Annapolis Pride Parade, which also held its inaugural event last year, scheduled for June 27 was postponed.

Baltimore Pride, which was planned for June 20 and 21, announced Wednesday on its Facebook page that its annual event was being postponed after speaking with medical experts and city officials. The post says organizers are working with Baltimore officials to reschedule the event for late August or September.

Stephanie Cascone, marketing coordinator of Howard County Pride, and Howard are still meeting with the planning committee to brainstorm ways to bring Howard County Pride into residents’ homes; like many organizations, they said they are exploring virtual options.

“We’re still in the early phases of what that will look like,” Cascone, 34, said of the potential online plans. “We want to bring elements that might be in a festival into the digital phase. We want to still engage our community.”

Until then, Howard, Cascone and other planning committee members are calling sponsors and vendors with the news and asking what they would like to do with their contribution: keep it for Howard County Pride 2021 or take it back.

Howard acknowledged the financial difficulty many businesses are facing right now. “Many craft vendors that did give to us could really use that money,” he said.

“In the deepest parts of my heart, I’m hoping that a Pride 2021 can go off as we imagined a Pride 2020 would have,” Howard said.

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