Credit: Nik Sparlin | BDN

The 2019 Bangor Pride parade and festival on Saturday afternoon were the largest in the city’s history, according to the events’ organizers.

Between 2,500 and 3,000 people attended the Pride parade, which was followed by a festival from 1 to 4 p.m. in West Market and Pickering squares. Lead organizer Sarah Haas, the LGBTQ community organizer for Health Equity Alliance, the organization that oversees Pride, said she and fellow attendees estimated attendance was roughly double from last year’s event.

“Last year we had around 1,500 people, and this year it was, by all accounts, at least double,” said Haas. “I talked to a lot of people that have attended Bangor Pride since the very beginning, and it really exceeded their wildest dreams.”

Additionally, there were 40 groups that marched in the parade, with each group containing an average of 10 people — meaning there were another 400 people in the street.

Haas said that this trend was reflected across the board in events held all week, including the annual Charlie Howard Memorial, which each year honors Howard, a young gay man who was murdered in 1984 after being tossed off the bridge on State Street. Haas said last year, about 10 people attended. This year, there were about 50.

Haas said she believed that the Health Equity Alliance’s goal this year of increasing community involvement this year paid off — but that booming Pride turnouts are happening nationwide.

“We really tried to focus on events where people would meet new people, where they would sit down next to strangers and get to know each other,” said Haas. “I also think our current political climate, where you see some people that would like to see things like gay pride and trans pride erased, really motivates people to come out and show up and be visible and tell queer people that this is a community that cares.”

Emily Burnham is a Maine native and proud Bangorian, covering business, the arts, restaurants and the culture and history of the Bangor region.