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Heartland Pride hosts parade, festival this weekend with more participants and more security

Posted at 6:49 PM, Jul 13, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-13 19:50:18-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — The Heartland Pride parade is Saturday and organizers expect it to be bigger and longer than last year, with around 190 groups participating.

But it comes with heightened security concerns for some amid a year that's come with more hateful messages, said Sam Parnell, the parade director. Legislation like Nebraska's LB574 has played a big part in that feeling, too.

"It doesn't surprise me that people have more concerns about coming this year," Parnell said. "But I want everyone to be aware security is at the forefront of our minds."

He says he's worked with the Omaha Police Department, and conveyed this isn't any other large event, because LGBTQ+ people have been targeted and threatened locally and nationally.

From June: Douglas County Sheriff investigates hate crime after pride flags stolen, burned

Omaha Police will provide traffic control and security. They're monitoring for threats leading up to the parade, and say they plan months in advance.

Private security

Back again this year is local security company Elite Tactical. They're also monitoring for threats and aren't shy about being LGBTQ+ friendly.

"America's supposed to be about freedom; being free to be who you are," says Elite's Chief of Operations Nick Lemek. "You have to feel safe to be free."

He says they'll make sure people aren't being harassed, stay vigilant, and act as an extra pair of eyes along the parade route.

He asks participants not to give protesters the acknowledgment they desire. Harassment can be reported to them, he said; they'll be in tan uniforms.

Blocking out hate

Also planning to attend is Parasol Patrol. They stand in front of protesters with rainbow umbrellas, and say they could use volunteers, especially at Friday evening's youth pride event.


Youth Pride: Friday, 5-10 p.m., CHI Health Center Arena
Pride Parade: Saturday 10 a.m.-noon, from 16th and Capitol west to 10th Street, then north to the CHI Health Center
Pride Festival: Saturday, 1 p.m., CHI Health Center. The last show ends at 9 p.m.

More information is available here.