Police ramp up security ahead of Pride festivities

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SAN DIEGO -- The 42nd annual San Diego LGBT Pride Festival is scheduled to begin Friday night with a pair of events, a block party in Hillcrest and a commemoration of riots in New York that led to the modern gay rights movement.

The three-day festival, with a theme of “Pride Unites the World,'' will also include a music program in Balboa Park headlined by a Saturday night performance by Kesha, and the annual Pride Parade in Hillcrest.

“People in 37 states and 14 countries have already purchased tickets to this weekend's Pride Music Festival,'' said Pride Executive Director Stephen Whitburn. “San Diego is among the world's most LGBT-friendly cities, and our festival is in beautiful Balboa Park, so San Diego Pride attracts people from around the globe.''

The Pride of Hillcrest Block Party is set to begin at 6 p.m. with a raising of the rainbow flag at University Avenue and Normal Street.

The Spirit of Stonewall Rally, which observes the 1969 protests in New York City, is also scheduled for a 6 p.m. start at Marston Point in Balboa Park. The keynote speaker will be U.S. Army Secretary Eric Fanning, the first openly gay man to hold the position.

The parade will begin Saturday at 11 a.m. at University Avenue and Normal Street, continue west down University, turn south on Sixth Avenue and end at Laurel Street, according to organizers.

The festivities come a little over a month since a gunman pledging allegiance to the Islamic State massacred 49 people at a nightclub catering to the gay and lesbian community in Orlando, and just one day after a trucker plowed through a crowd of Bastille Day revelers in Nice, France, killing dozens.

“This is a time for our community to come together and stand up against hate, bigotry and intolerance and promote equality and to share in the pride of our incredibly diverse citizenry,'' Councilman Todd Gloria said.

The event has “had a unique ability to unite our city in celebration of diversity,'' Gloria said. He said attendees will be LGBT, straight allies, people of color, families and children.

San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman told City News Service that there are no known credible threats against San Diego's Pride event. However, this weekend's events will feature a ramped-up law enforcement contingent.