By J. K. Schmid, Special to the AFRO

With an expanded footprint, new parade route and new events, Baltimore Pride 2018 appears poised to repeat and expand on previous successes come kickoff June 15.

“Last year, we did about 30,000 people, 20 on Saturday and 10 on Sunday,” Lakesha Davis, Pride Coordinator, told the AFRO. “We’re expecting around the same or a little more.”

Baltimore Pride is organized by the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center (GLCCB) of Mount Vernon. It also goes by “The Center.”

The Pride parade’s new route will march 11 blocks from 33rd Street to 23rd Street, June 16 at 1 p.m. “It’s loud, it’s colorful and it’s campy, in the best possible sort of way,” the Baltimore Pride website, BaltimorePride.org says.

The march will be led by Baltimore’s acclaimed drag queen Shawna Alexander and Baltimore singer and 2017 “The Voice” contestant, Davon Fleming. Sharing the lead will be GLCCB’s Activists of the Year, Erika Bridgeford and Ava Pipitone.

The High Heel Race returns, “signaling the beginning of the merry chaos that Pride weekend always delivers,” the website says. People will scramble from 25th Street to North Charles Street at 12:30 p.m. Saturday. Qualifying heels will begin at a two inch minimum.

The King and Queen of Pride return, Chris Jay, the {Washington Blade’s} Best of Gay DC’s Best Drag King 2016 and Sapphire Bleu, the last reigning Miss Gay Baltimore, respectively. The King of Pride is scheduled to perform on the main stage, a block east of Red Emma’s at the intersection of North Avenue and North Charles Street. The Queen of Pride will take the stage at 6 p.m.

Pride’s standard, the Lez Lot, returns to 1915 N. Howard St for tailgaters.

New this year, will be the Pet Parade, for “our furry companions” a June 16 1 p.m. march lining up between 24th Street and 25th Street at North Charles Street.

Sunday’s pride events cater to the more low key. Family Pride and Elder Pride will both be at Druid Hill Park. Family Pride will have activities for children and Elder Pride will allow 40-year veterans of Baltimore Pride to “share their rich history,” Davis said. “It’s a laid back time for people to come out and enjoy being in one and other’s company.”

Unlike other Pride parades, Baltimore Pride is not a state or city event. Proceeds from Pride will go to GLCCB.

“Any dollar earned will help the GLCCB continue to give great programming and services family members who come into the Center,” Davis said.

GLCCB has not published its 2017 financials on its website yet, but 2016’s self-reported figures for the previous year show steadily increasing contributions to the Center. GLCCB reported $270,235 in total support in 2015, over three-quarters of which was public support, its Form 990 shows.

One such service on offer from GLCCB, provided on June 17, will be the provision of healthcare facilities that will offer HIV testing, Davis said.

“What’s great about this parade is we have all types of community groups, organizations, joining in to show their unification and solidarity in a community,” Davis said of GLCCB’s work with sponsors such as Verizon, Giant and PNC Bank. “That alone will enrich the GLCCB’s culture, because again, we can make good, meaningful partnerships for the future coming.”

Pride begins Friday night at the ticketed event Twilight on the Terrace at Gertrude’s located in the Baltimore Museum of Art, 7 p.m.