KINGSPORT, Tenn (WJHL) – LGBTQ+ organization TriPride is bringing a parade and festival to downtown Kingsport on September 7, and it’s expected to draw a massive crowd
“Last year 10,000 people was the estimate. This year, it can really be anything between 5,000 and 15,000,” said George Chamoun, vice president of TriPride.
The organization has 920 people signed up to participate in the parade itself. This event is the first of its kind in Kingsport. Last year, TriPride’s popular event was held in Johnson City.
The organization has been working closely with the Kingsport Police Department in planning event security.
“Safety is paramount,” Chamoun said. “At the end of the day, the thing that the police department cares most about is that everyone can come to this event, enjoy it, and go back home safely with no incident.”
Last week, the Kingsport Police Department released a list of banned items that would not be allowed at the event.
More than 700 News Channel 11 viewers had comments and questions regarding this list when it was shared on Facebook. Since then, TriPride and the police have issued some clarifications.
First, attendees are allowed to bring in folding chairs.
“Folding chairs will be permitted, just with no bags,” Chamoun said.
Most people will not be permitted to bring their own bags into the event.
“Exceptions will be made for medical needs and diapers and such,” said Chamoun, noting these bags will still need to be checked.
Otherwise, TriPride will provide plastic bags once people enter the festival.
“So if people want to bring items with them such as protein bars or hygiene items, what they can do is bring those items with them, and after they pass through security they put all of their items into one of the bags that TriPride is providing,” said Chamoun.
People are allowed to bring in small, prepackaged food items like protein bars. They cannot bring in outside beverage containers. Instead, the event will be giving out thousands of free water bottles.
“Last year it was the same restriction, there was no water allowed but no one went thirsty. We had dozens of cases of water leftover,” Chamoun said.
Unlike most other large parades and festivals in Kingsport, the event will be fenced in with security checkpoints. The Kingsport Police Department would not respond to specific questions on why they decided to put certain safety measures in place for this event.
Tom Patton, public information officer for the KPD, said in a message to News Channel 11:
“The rules for the event are based on best practices for large events and are in line with other similar events held throughout the country, including last year’s event in Johnson City. The ultimate goal is the safety of everyone involved.”
Because people will have to pass through a security checkpoint before entering the festival, TriPride asks people to arrive early to allow enough time to enter through the gates.
Event organizers also anticipate that protesters will come to the event.
“Protesters almost always show up to Pride events, it’s just a natural expected thing,” Chamoun said. “We encourage people to just ignore the protesters, let them do their thing. We encourage people to instead just enjoy the festival, have a great time, and make some new friends.”