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Hillcrest says fenceless, free Pride Block Party will be safe and appropriate for all ages

Hillcrest Business Association says the Pride Kick-off Party is better when admission is free.
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Some people are concerned about the Hillcrest Business Association's (HBA) changes to the Pride of Hillcrest Block Party this year. This neighborhood event is considered a kick-off to San Diego Pride and takes place right after the Spirit of Stonewall Rally. This year that falls on July 12. 

Last year the HBA decided to not charge patrons, they simply asked people who could afford it to make a donation. 

This year they are going a few steps further. Besides keeping it free, they are also allowing entry for all ages and removing barriers.

"We will still have a beer garden that will be fenced, but it will be free to enter," said Benjamin Nicholls, the HBA’s Executive Director. 

These developments have sparked some concerns within the community about family-friendliness and security. 

Nicholls doesn't think allowing kids at the event is inappropriate. In fact, he says it's a great time for a teachable moment.

"The first part of the block party includes the Stonewall Rally," he told SDGLN. "Political events are important for people of all ages to get involved in."

He says the second part of the event is the huge dance party, which he describes as a safe nighttime affair and important to being an adolescent in Hillcrest, "We welcome all and encourage people to be open to the rainbow of culture that is on display."

Also worried are people who think the lack of barriers means lack of security and with Hillcrest recovering from a very scary shooting only a month ago, they are understandably concerned. Nicholls is reassuring regarding that as well. 

"Most of HBA's events are fenceless (free) and all are safe," said Nicholls. "I see the block party being no different."

"We have adequate security as required by the SDPD. Our events are safe and we really never have any issues as compared to events in other areas such as downtown." 

As far as alcohol, it will be sold in an enclosed venue.

Nicholls says he supports responsible drinking not only at the Hillcrest Block Party but throughout Pride weekend. 

The Pride of Hillcrest Block Party usually follows the Spirit of Stonewall Rally at the Hillcrest Pride Flag which takes place on July 12.

San Diego Pride 2019 officially starts on July 12, 13 and 14.