Dragon Con, Pride parades likely canceled this year, city council stops permits

The big festivals mean big money for the city

ATLANTA — Atlanta’s City Council voted to make major changes to large-scale events for the rest of the year.

During Monday’s council meeting, city leaders decided not to issue permits for things like Atlanta Pride or the Dragon Con parades.

Channel 2′s Dave Huddleston was at Piedmont Park, home of Atlanta’s annual jazz festival. In a normal year, the Atlanta Jazz Festival would start at smaller city parks, then make its way to Piedmont Park Memorial Day Weekend to showcase the big headliners. This year, the festival is virtual.

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Korey Felder is part owner of Oak Atlanta, one of the city’s premiere nightclubs, where you could see celebrities like Cardi B and comedian Kevin Hart. He said big Atlanta festivals are major moneymakers for them.

"We have about 500 to 700 people there on a regular basis," Felder said. "The effect is tremendous."

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Because of the coronavirus, city leaders from the mayor to city council have stopped permits for some of the city’s biggest festivals and parades like Atlanta Pride and the Dragon Con parade, even the Dogwood Festival. They could change their minds later this fall, but it’s not likely if social distancing rules remain in effect.

Felder said the city council’s decision will have a direct impact on his business.

"Not to have that is extremely significant," Felder said. "Fortunately we can operate as a restaurant but the bulk of our sales comes from alcohol consumption."

City Council president Felecia Moore said it's all about keeping people safe.

"We're not going to add events or do anything that is going to bring people together," Moore said. "That just doesn't make sense."

The permit ban does not include conventions, so Dragon Con can still happen in downtown hotels, but it will be without the popular parade.

Felder's nightclub is now closed and he said times are tough, but he thinks the city is making the right decision.

"It's people before profit," Felder said.

There’s no time table for when the city will start to issue new permits. Officials said the city has to get a handle on the virus before there’s any talk of parades and festivals.