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Shops Close and Residents Flee to Avoid Pride March Throngs

By Serena Solomon | June 23, 2011 12:25pm

By Serena Solomon

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

WEST VILLAGE — As the crowds are set to decend upon the West Village for this Sunday’s Gay Pride March, many local residents and small business owners are planning to head out of town.

Although local support for Sunday's 42nd annual march remains high, many West Villagers have found someplace else to go in an effort to avoid the crushing crowds, loud music and, in the case of businesses, being used as a public restroom.

"I’m happy the parade happens, it's just not really our scene," said Laura Treadway, a 34-year-old Christopher Street resident.

On her first year in the area, Treadway watched the parade roll down Fifth Avenue and 36th Street, before finishing at Christopher Street and Greenwich Avenue. But for the six years since she had made a point of getting away. This year she plans to go to Long Island.

One parade participant showed his love for Lady Gaga.
One parade participant showed his love for Lady Gaga.
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Nina Mandell/DNAInfo

"Dishes in our apartment rattle when the floats go past," she said.

Chris Mercer, a personal trainer and West Village resident, said he normally leaves the city with his husband. This year they'll stay in NYC, but will get out of the west side and head to Park Avenue.

"Its insane. Its crazy," Mercer said of the crowds.

In recent years, Mercer believes the parade has lost some of its significance as a celebration of gay pride to an excuse for a drunken party by some paradegoers.

"I do think it has lost its message a little bit," he said, citing some of the out-of-control young revelers.

Despite the heavy foot traffic of those watching the march, some businesses complain that other than bars or restaurants, the traffic doesn't translate into an economic boom for the small businesses along Christopher Street.

"You can't get in, you can't get out," said Leo Jacoby, 28, who manages the upscale pet store Citipups at 45 Christopher St. Jacoby said he's planning to open the store for only a few hours this Sunday.

"The bars, they will be open. It's their high as a business, but nobody is going to buy a puppy," said Jacoby.

Further east on the strip, Molly Kavanagh, the co-owner of an interior design store Overbey Dunn at 19 Christopher St., will not be opening at all. She is even considering taking down the store’s sign to insure she still has it on Monday, she said.

"They just want to come and use the bathroom anyway," she said.

The crowds on Christopher Street during the gay pride march.
The crowds on Christopher Street during the gay pride march.
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See-Ming Lee/Flickr

Like most stores on Christopher Street, Christopher 19, a jewelry shop, and Laina Jane, a clothing and accessories store, will also be closed to avoid crowds.

QQ Nails and Spa will be open, according to manager Angela Chen, but the door will remain locked to avoid people coming in just for the bathroom.

Some residents, like 40-year-old Eileen Morris, will be braving the party.

"We alternate year to year," she said. "It's time to embrace it this year."