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Long Island

Long Beach will be home to PrideFest in 2017

A woman throws out candy from the Long

A woman throws out candy from the Long Island Eagle float during the 25th Annual Long Island Pride Parade and PrideFest in Huntington, on June 13, 2015. Photo Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

Long Island PrideFest will move to Long Beach next year and expand to a three-day event with a beach party, a parade, beach concerts and a surfing competition.

This will be the final year that PrideFest, scheduled for Saturday, will be held in Huntington, where it had been held for the past 25 years, organizers said.

LGBT Network organizers said they are moving from Huntington after this year’s parade was canceled by the group for security reasons. Saturday’s festivities will limited to Heckscher Park.

The Long Beach PrideFest is scheduled to take place June 9-11, 2017. It is being billed as a destination event that will be held on the beach. Long Beach city officials and the city’s chamber of commerce are working with the Bayshore-based LGBT Network to coordinate events with the city’s shops, restaurants and bars.

Festivities will also include a 5K “fun run,” softball and volleyball tournaments and a Pride Brunch.

Organizers will also raise funding to help combat bullying in schools.

“For over a quarter century, Long Island Pride has been bringing people together from all over Nassau and Suffolk Counties, and next year Long Beach is lucky to host what is sure to be a great event,” City Council vice president Anthony Eramo said.

The PrideFest has been held in Huntington since 1991. The LGBT Network reported repeated denials by towns on Long Island, and the Huntington Highway Department, when it first began to look for a home for the festival. A bomb threat was made in 2013 against the Huntington parade, organizers said.

Saturday’s Huntington parade was canceled because organizers said they faced logistical issues regarding staffing and security. Last year’s event drew 15,000 visitors between the parade and the festival.

“As the community becomes more diverse and more LGBT couples raise families, Long Beach offers a breadth of opportunities that Huntington doesn’t,” LGBT Network CEO David Kilmnick said.

He said organizers are working with local city officials and private businesses to expand and improve next year’s festivities.

He said Long Beach may attract thousands more visitors from around New York and across the country due to its proximity to the LIRR, New York City and JFK International Airport.

“Long Island does not have a ‘gay’-borhood. Families live in every town and city,” Kilmnick said. “Long Beach is unique and welcoming of the LGBT community in all perspectives and there is now an easier way to get to PrideFest.”

Larry Cunningham said he moved to Long Beach last year with his husband and said he thinks Long Beach will be a welcome home to PrideFest.

“I always thought of Long Beach as a sleepy beach community,” Cunningham said. “It’s very integrated and the LGBT network has done a phenomenal job working with young people to feel safe and secure.”

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