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PrideFest St. Louis Expecting Record Crowds This Weekend

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)-- St. Louis's annual PrideFest event will be held downtown for the first time. Organizers expect as many as 100,000 people.

The group sparked some controversy by leaving the Tower Grove and South Grand neighborhood where the event had been held for the past 12 years.

"I think it will be sorely missed," said area resident Teri Bennett.

Business owners in the area predict a significant drop in revenue for the last weekend in June compared to previous years.  But many said they understand this kind of event has a certain life span.

Pride St. Louis President Staci Stift owns a business on South Grand.

"To be honest, I'm taking a huge hit by it not being down there. But wearing two hats of both sides, I have to put on my Pride hat and realize this is better for the organization and our mission."

The event began in the Central West End and moved to Forest Park for some time before switching to the Tower Grove neighborhood.

"Our mission is to educate the general public on LGBT issues so it's not just for the LGBT community; it's also for the general public," Stift said.

Stift said after this week's Supreme Court decisions expanding equal rights for same sex couples she expected a larger and more diverse crowd to attend.

The new location is the one used by other groups holding large street festivals in downtown.  It stretches between Pine and Market from Tucker to just past 15th Street.

A new group named Tower Grove Pride is holding a family picnic in Tower Grove Park by the Farmer's Market site followed by a block party at South Grand and Hartford.  Bennett said she is hopeful next year the two events can be held on separate weekends.

"I would like it to be not so divided where people feel like they have to go to one or the other."

For information on the events go to:
www.pridestl.org
www.towegroveprice.org