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Despite Pandemic, Palm Springs Celebrates Socially Distant Pride

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In a normal year, this November would see the Palm Springs Pride street festival kicking off to thousands of happy and inebriated partygoers on the streets and filling up restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. Obviously, with a global pandemic, that can’t happen, but desert folks make do, and the population of Palm Springs is figuring out safe and socially distanced ways to celebrate Pride this year.

In October, California's Riverside County set up restrictions on bars and restaurants, limiting capacity and making bars sell food with every alcoholic beverage purchase, so local gay bars are coming up with creative ways to still celebrate. 

Hunters Palm Springs is selling classic bar food pizza, tacos, and hot dogs, and has set up a patio space that includes public art from the Palm Springs Art Commission. Piano bar Stacy’s Palm Springs erected a giant 20-by-40-foot outdoor wedding tent and is offering salads, wraps, and a special Sunday brunch complete with bottomless mimosas. 

Chill Bar Palm Springs owner Rob Giesecke said that he was already planning on introducing food to his bar before the pandemic hit. “The pandemic has been a silver lining so to speak, because it’s given us an opportunity to tweek the food concepts,” he told the Desert Sun. “It’s given us a little bit of runway to get up to speed on food, but we want to have a place where you can come during the day and have lunch and you don’t necessarily have to have a cocktail.”

Clients are loving the new adaptations. “Everything I try to do I try to do outside of the box,” Stacy’s owner Joseph Miller told Sun. “The clientele I’ve had at Stacy’s has always wanted more, so that’s why we’ve brought in better food.”

Other events during this year’s socially distanced celebration included an anytime, anywhere 5k, where runners could register to raise money for the LGBT Community Center of the Desert and run the distance on their own route any time over the weekend; "Light Up the Night," where residents were encouraged to light up their houses and businesses with pink or rainbow lights, a drive-in movie screening of the documentary Cured, the Curve magazine documentary Ahead of the Curve, and community film Exist, Persist, Resist, and Thrive, and an at-home dance party.

Palms Springs residents aren’t letting the state of the world bring them down. “We believe that all people deserve a diverse, inclusive, accepting, and welcoming safe space to celebrate Pride and our community,” Pride president and CEO Ron deHarte said in a statement. “In lifting each other up, even when it’s hard, even during a pandemic, we build allies, opportunities and resources to live our best lives and help those around us do the same.”

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