Mayor sets official Augusta Pride Day

June 19 has officially been declared Augusta Pride Day.

Mayor Deke Copenhaver granted the Augusta Pride committee a proclamation in recognition of the organization's efforts to put on the city's first gay parade and festival, Augusta Pride spokesman Chris Bannochie said.

Copenhaver presented Augusta Pride president Isaac Kelly with the proclamation June 4 after a planning meeting in the city's special events office.

Copenhaver said he presents hundreds of proclamations each year, and next Saturday's event was worthy of the honor.

"I just felt like they should be given the same consideration as other events we put on here in Augusta," he said.

In February, the mayor hesitated in giving the go ahead for the festival and parade.

After receiving legal counsel, Copenhaver decided to grant the committee the permit to hold the parade on Broad Street and a festival at Augusta Common.

Bannochie said he was not sure of attendance for next Saturday's event, but at least 10 Richmond County sheriff's deputies will patrol the area throughout the day.

Though some disagree with the event, Bannochie said he is proud Augusta will be a part of the 40-year history of pride parades.

"The fact that some may not realize this is probably the biggest issue Augusta needs to address as a community," he said.

Bannochie said the proclamation shows the mayor's support of the event.

"The proclamation is a tremendously affirming statement to all gay and transgender citizens of Augusta, as well as for their straight allies," he said.