rainbow connection

‘The Olympics of Pride’: Record 4 Million Visitors Expected

Zhavoda Moore poses beneath an advertisement from TD Bank in Chelsea, on June 25, 2019.
Zhavoda Moore poses beneath an advertisement from TD Bank in Chelsea, on June 25, 2019. Photo: Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

Harald Frimmel-Walser and his husband, Klaus, were fresh off a plane from Vienna. Ezequiel Martinez flew in from Buenos Aires. And Ben Gutschow and his parents drove in from Pittsburgh.

They all stopped to visit the site where the modern gay rights movement began a half-century ago: the Stonewall Inn.

“Unfortunately, that’s not in a lot of history classes,” said Gutschow, 17. “I go to a fairly kind of liberal school, and we have a class called Multicultural America, and yet we still don’t learn anything about the gay liberation movement.”

The half dozen visitors, representing three continents, were among an anticipated record four million people expected to jam the city for the culmination of a Pride Month like no other. That’s about twice the usual crowd the celebration of all things LGBTQIA+ draws.

“This is like the Olympics of Pride,” said Cathy Renna, a spokesperson for Heritage of Pride, organizer of the long-running Pride March.

For the first time, WorldPride, an international festival, is being hosted in the United States. It kicks off on Wednesday with an opening ceremony at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.

Friday marks the 50th anniversary of the uprising at the Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street in Manhattan.

And Sunday brings both the annual Pride March and the new Reclaim Pride Coalition’s Queer Liberation March, billed as the non-corporate alternative to the longstanding main event.

The influx of visitors has set the city into a festive mode, with rainbow flags waving everywhere from apartment windows to restaurant storefronts.

New York is “rolling out the rainbow rug,” said Chris Heywood, a spokesperson for NYC & Company, the city’s tourism arm.

Promotions in High Gear

Pride is good for business: Promotions range from the Conrad New York Downtown hotel’s booze-infused Pride Poptails to Pride-themed MetroCards from the MTA, which plans extra service on several lines this weekend.

The festivities also have set off a scramble for space. According to AirDNA, a company that analyzes short-term rental data, prices for Airbnb units and similar accommodations are higher than normal in June, with the median price peaking at $240 Saturday night. That’s about $40 above the usual for this time of year.

Meanwhile, the NYPD is also ramping up for big crowds.

Harald (posing) and Klaus Frimmel-Walser of Vienna take pictures in front of The Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, on June 25, 2019.
Harald (posing) and Klaus Frimmel-Walser of Vienna take pictures in front of The Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, on June 25, 2019. Photo: Gabriel Sandoval/THE CITY

There will be more K-9 units, heavy weapons personnel and sand trucks than in previous years, officials said. Sensors will help Counterterrorism Bureau cops keep out an eye for unauthorized drones.

NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism John Miller likened the preparations to policing plans for New Year’s Eve and the Thanksgiving Parade. Chief of Department Terence Monahan noted that cops, in uniform and plainclothes alike, will be out in full force.

Cat Groya, 30, from Portland, Ore.
Cat Groya, 30, from Portland, Ore. Photo: Gabriel Sandoval/THE CITY

“We’ll be working hand in hand with everyone to ensure everyone has a great time,” he said Tuesday.

Cat Groya, 30, visiting from Portland, Ore., didn’t have to worry about getting a hotel room or an Airbnb rental. She stayed with her mother on the Upper East Side.

She wasn’t planning on sticking around for the weekend festivities, though. Groya simply wanted to pay her respects on Christopher Street, where “it wasn’t all fun and games the first time around.”

“I just wanted to see where it all started,” she said.

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