CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte-Mecklenburg didn’t have an estimate of the crowd, but organizers expected roughly 55,000 people for the weekend-long festival.
Fifty corporate sponsors helped make the event a reality, according to Charlotte Pride spokesman Matt Comer. Twenty-two of those companies were first-time sponsors, he said.
Bank of America was the title sponsor of Sunday’s parade, but rival Wells Fargo sponsored the main event stage in front of the museum complex on S. Tryon Street. Fifth-Third Bank, PNC, and Doritos brand were other major sponsors that could be seen along the route or participating in the parade.
The corporate sponsorship is important to Charlotte’s business community, said mayor Patsy Kinsey, who has supported Charlotte’s LGBT community for years.
“When companies move here, they want to come to an open city.. and that’s what we are,” said Kinsey. It’s “a very good economic benefit,” she agreed.
Kinsey pointed out that Mecklenburg County voted to defeat Amendment One, the constitutional ban on gay marriage, in last year’s referendum. The ban passed overwhelmingly statewide, however.
Some of Charlotte’s faith community also joined in the parade to show their support for gay community members. Myers Park Baptist, a vocal opponent of Amendment One, sent a church bus full of supporters to the parade.
The event also brought out a handful of protesters, many carrying signs with Bible verses challenging homosexuality, but they were few and far between.