Festival organizers, bar owners and Lexington police are collaborating to increase security for next weekend’s Pride Festival, but they don’t anticipate any trouble.
Local police are working with the FBI and other agencies to monitor any potential problems, said Lexington Police Chief Mark Barnard. In the week leading up to the festival there are no credible threats for Lexington in particular or Kentucky as a whole, he said. Monitoring of the situation will be ongoing.
If you see something, say something.
Lexington Police Chief Mark Barnard
Additional officers will be on duty Saturday when up to 25,000 people are expected to gather at the courthouse plaza for the gay pride event.
Barnhard say he hopes people will feel comfortable enough to enjoy the Pride Festival, which moved to downtown eight years ago after decades on a private farm.
But, he asked the community and festival goers to do their part by reporting anything out of the ordinary. Basically, if you see something, say something, he said. He encouraged people not to be shy about reporting anything unusual to the police.
Isaac Kurs, co-owner of Soundbar, a gay-friendly club on South Limestone, said the bar has always had strict security including checking purses and bags, but next weekend extra measures will be in place.
For example, he said, backpacks will not be allowed in the club and the bar’s security team has been doubled.
In addition, he and other Lexington bar owners are meeting regularly with police to discuss security including a meeting next Friday.
Festival Chair Katherine Wilkie said the events in Orlando have given some folks pause about attending this year’s festival.
“There are a lot of people who have indicated that they have reservations,” she said. But that’s only natural in light of “the times we are living in.”
But she reiterated Barnard’s statement that there are no threats to the festival at this time.
“We don’t want people to stay away because they are scared,” she said.
Work is underway to honor the Orlando victims at the Lexington Pride Festival, she said. Specific plans will be announced later in the week after festival organizers consult with some of the 40 entertainment acts that will be part of the celebration.
At this weekend’s Kentuckiana Pride Festival in Louisville, a record 250 volunteers marched behind a banner memorializing those who died in Orlando, said Chris Hartman, of the Fairness Campaign.
If you go
Lexington Pride Festival
When: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. June 25
Where: Robert F. Stephens Courthouse, Downtown Lexington
Visit: Lexington Pride Festival Facebook page or http://www.lexpridefest.org