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OKC Pride celebrates support, equality, one colorful community



Thousands will crowd Oklahoma City streets, parks and clubs this weekend at the state's largest pride event, a three-day celebration of solidarity championed by gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered, and their families, friends and straight supporters.

The 22nd annual OKC Pride event kicks off 7 p.m. Friday with a block party at "The Strip," along N.W. 39th Street near N. Pennsylvania Avenue.

The 21-and-older "Naughty by Nature" block party is open until 11 p.m. and will feature food, drink, snow cones and pants-drenching summer activities like waterslides.

This year's sass-mouthed grand marshal, Miss Ruby Ann Boxcar, will lead the weekend events. Boxcar is a comedian, performer and television personality widely known as the "Diva of the Double-wide," a down-home drag darling who made her way from an Arkansas trailer park to Hollywood and the glitzy Vegas strip, after getting her start entertaining crowds here in Oklahoma City.

The pride celebration continues noon Saturday and Sunday at Memorial Park, near N.W. 36th Street and N. Classen Boulevard, with food, music and family-friendly festival activities scheduled both days.

A dunk tank, obstacle course and old-fashioned photo booth will be set up alongside educational booths and local crafters, artists and vendors.

A pair of park stages will host dozens of performers throughout the two-day festival. Singer/songwriter Justin Witte will open Saturday's concert lineup with a noon performance on the South Stage. Local folk favorite Carter Sampson will follow at 1:30 p.m., and the Tall Cotton String Band will close on Saturday with a 9 p.m. concert.

The park's North Stage on Saturday will host karaoke contests, poetry readings and the always-popular "Amazing Pet Contest," where a panel of judges and exuberant crowds cheer on all manner of dolled-up dogs, cats and cleverly disguised household critters.

Oklahoma City blues-rock band 13 Seeds opens Sunday's festival with a noon performance on the South Stage. Plain Song, a men's chorus, will sing at 2 p.m. and dance performer Ira Levi, a Phoenix entertainer best known for his song "Let the Children Dance," will wrap up the South Stage show with a 4 p.m. concert.

Several singers and entertainers will perform Sunday on the North Stage, including well-known local acoustic singer/songwriter Beth Isbell, who opens at noon.

Pride weekend will end in a frenzy as crowds line the streets to watch the 22nd annual Pride Parade, which steps off at 5 p.m. near the park, makes its way to N.W. 42th Street and N. Classen Boulevard, turns down N.W. 39th Street towards N. Pennsylvania Avenue and ends at the strip near N. Barnes Avenue.  "Joe Wertz

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