Tower Grove Pride: Neighborhood Group Promoting Alternative Festivities to Downtown

Categories: LGBT

Pride in Tower Grove, 2012.jpg
Alexis Hitt / RFT slideshow
Pride in Tower Grove last year.
Having outgrown its home in Tower Grove Park, PrideFest officials announced last year that it would be moving the festivities to downtown St. Louis, sparking some resentment from those in the neighborhood that didn't want to lose the parade.

And in their own way, they won't.

Angelo Olegna, 27, is spearheading an effort to keep Pride in Tower Grove and is now in the process of securing approvals and making concrete plans for festivities that will happen at the same time as the downtown event in June in the parade's original location .

"Everyone is confident that this is going to happen," Olegna tells Daily RFT. "We will grow it organically...and keep the tradition going?"

What are they planning?

Tower Grove Pride is having a kick-off event of sorts this weekend at the Missouri Botanical Garden -- where folks will come in beach-party clothes and swim suits, hang out in the Climatron and pretend it's not winter.

This beach party has happened in the past, but Olegna tells us they are using it to promote the Tower Grove Pride plans and get more people involved.

angelo olegna.jpg
Courtesy of Olegna / Photo by Vincent Haynes
Angelo Olegna

Just after the move to downtown was announced in December, Olegna made a Keep Pride in Tower Grove Facebook page to try and pressure organizers to change the plan.

"Unfortunately, it just didn't work out," says Olegna, who is the promotional manager at City Diner. "But we are doers.... So we mobilized and tried to spread the word."

Now, he says he is collaborating with around nine other people to keep some festivities alive in Tower Grove -- which involves coordinating events with the local businesses and securing permits and spaces in the park.

The events will be on June 29, the same day as PrideFest, he says, because the park had originally reserved space for the parade that day.

"We are hoping people will attend both," he says. "I don't want any antagonism.... We are just focused on pride-themed events in our community...and doing it our way."

He adds, "It's going to be very different from what's happening downtown."

Olegna says they are working on having a diverse range of music, entertainment and programming that suppors local businesses, artist and vendors.

He says he is working alongside people who are knowledgeable about getting various city approvals and going through the necessary steps to actually make this happen.

"We are scrambling a little bit, since we weren't given a huge amount of notice," he says, "But I think we are going strong."

Tower Grove Pride Facebook.jpeg
via Facebook

In coming weeks and months, he says they will be doing more fundraisers and promotion.

Keeping pride alive in Tower Grove is important to him on a personal level, he adds.

"I'm gay and I also love my community," he says. "I don't want to have to choose between being part of the gay community and being a part of the community I live in, with all the diversity."

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Sam Levin on Twitter at @SamTLevin.


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13 comments
arvinnumber60
arvinnumber60

Angelo Olegna, I find it strange that you are using a fake name. There's no way your name is a palindrome. Why are you hiding your true identity? Also, evolve.

angeloolegna
angeloolegna

Hey everyone, this is Angelo Olegna. I have to say I'm relieved to see the comments section is actually rather tame compared to the last couple of articles about what we're doing. We're all working very hard to make these events happen and we are so grateful for the support and interest so far. If anyone would like to get involved please feel free to contact me and join our Facebook page: Keep Pride In Tower Grove. 


We're just trying to express ourselves and our pride in the way we choose, in the place we choose. We want to support the communities that have supported us so much over the years. We hope to do some great, unique things this year. Keep the tradition going, and have a great time. Thanks to the RFT for the article and thanks everyone for reading up on our efforts!

JamesMadison
JamesMadison topcommenter

It's a parade, right? TGP is about 5 little miles from City Hall. Walk, pedal, ride, dance, hula, or whatever for the five miles. Link the two events. Win-win. Think people. Think.

na99
na99

The reality is that this is never going to happen.

faery_generic
faery_generic

I will be at the TGP events. Thanks for giving me a choice.

J Kody Scott
J Kody Scott

Wait, same businesses as in the same corporate sponsors? Or businesses in the Grove?

Todd Alan
Todd Alan

Homegrown Queer (in this case) also wants the same businesses to fund their operations. But the question still remains as to why Tower Grove vs any of the other places it's been held. If it's truly about the "roots" why not hold it in any of the original locations?

J Kody Scott
J Kody Scott

^^^ I think it's the same sort of process some of us go through when we decide to stop shopping at Walmart and choose Local Harvest instead. Gay, Inc. vs. Homegrown Queer

Todd Alan
Todd Alan

^^^ just curious why? As Pride isn't about a neighborhood, and the move downtown marks it's fourth location in it's 34 yr history

Jennifer Krieger
Jennifer Krieger

No question that we will spend our time and money in the Tower Grove area.

KPITG
KPITG

I think it's interesting that several of the Pride Board members who decided on moving the festival downtown have resigned in the past few weeks.

12judges
12judges

I wish the parade could stay in TGP too but last year it was packed.  They might be trying to get ahead of the growth it will experience in the coming years but I think the parade moving was an overall good idea that will allow more people to find parking and participate.  That said I hope Olegna succeeds in keeping some events in TGP.  I'll plan on going to both:)

angeloolegna
angeloolegna

@arvinnumber60 

I'm actually a purple space hamster from Mars. You caught me anonymous contributor "arvinnumber60".

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