Charlotte Pride Festival crowds expected to be larger than years past

by: John Paul Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The city of Charlotte is preparing for record crowds this weekend to celebrate the Charlotte Pride Festival.

Eyewitness news anchor John Paul learned that there are two reasons for the large turnout: June's mass shooting in Orlando and HB2.

Officials are blocking off Tryon Street a full day earlier than they used to, a sign of the festival's growth.

More than 100,000 people flooded uptown for last year's festival.

Officials said they wouldn't be surprised if they saw double those numbers this year.

Josh Burford, a professor at UNC Charlotte, told Channel 9 that HB2 and the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando are changing the tone of this year’s event.

“I think the festival takes on a sort of resistance, instead of a celebration,” Buford said.

Officials said they think that people who wouldn't normally attend are going to show up.

Panel discussions this week in Charlotte have focused on HB2, the law says people must use the bathroom of their biological gender.

Channel 9 spoke with one panelist who said it will be a major theme.

“Especially with this Pride, and HB2 what it is, we're going to be louder and we're going to be prouder,” community organizer Gloria Merriweather said.

Organizers want more time to set up because of the growth.

South Tryon will close between Levine and Trade streets beginning at 9:30 a.m Friday.

Last year, it didn't close until Saturday morning.

CMPD declared this an extraordinary event and will step up security this year.

The Charlotte Pride Parade will be on Sunday from 1 to 3 p.m. in uptown Charlotte.