SF Pride 2021 will have in-person events, but no parade

After going fully virtual last year due to the pandemic, San Francisco's Pride festival organizers now say they will hold some events in-person in 2021. While there will be live festivities again, the signature parade will have to wait at least another year.

Pride organizers say they worked hard to come up with a way to hold some events in-person. But, when it comes to drawing thousands of people together in one place for a parade, organizers said they have to put safety first.

San Francisco's pride festivities will be held in person in a limited fashion this year, after going virtual last year. Organizers say it will be geared toward Bay Area locals, and will include partnering with the San Francisco Giants for an outdoor festival. 

"The good thing about that partnership is being with the Giants and being in Oracle Park guarantees we will be held to the same kind of MLB standards that they're going to be having now that they're starting to welcome fans back into Major League Baseball parks," said Carolyn Wysinger from SF Pride.

Pride this year will also feature local businesses in an expo, and include a  celebration with the African American Art & Culture Complex to celebrate LGBTQ and Black History.

What Pride won't feature this year is the signature parade. 

"There are a lot of logistics and a lot of people that go into putting on that parade," said Wysinger. "Even if we said, 'only floats go down Market Street,' that's still a whole lot of people, which is just not really safe right now."

Even without the parade San Francisco Travel says the in-person festivities are a symbol the city is beginning to welcome back visitors. 

"Events like Pride are going to be really important because they're going to tell people that San Francisco is coming back and that these important things that are important to all of us are starting to happen again," said Joe D’Alessandro, CEO of San Francisco Travel Association.

San Francisco Travel has launched it's public awareness campaign, "Our Gate Is Open," to encourage visitors to come to San Francisco.

The city saw an 80% decrease in visitor spending last year, and says it may be 2025 before San Francisco sees pre-pandemic levels of visitors return. With tourism as the city's number one industry, that means less money coming into the city.

 "Tourists pay so much of our city taxes, about $800 million in our local taxes are paid for by visitors," said D’Alessandro. "That we don't have to pay for."

Travel experts say a safe reopening is critical to keep momentum building for visitors to return to the city.

Pride organizers say those safety precautions are why we're seeing the events come back one step at a time, organizers say they want to ensure they're able to hold Pride events in San Francisco for years to come.