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Celebrate with us!
By Marene Gustin
Pack up your friends and some picnic snacks for the outdoor pre-Pride Festival party at downtown’s Discovery Green park. You can also bring the whole family—your kids and even your dogs, as long as they’re on a leash. (The dogs, that is.)
“This is our seventh year,” says park director Barry Mandel. “Last year, we had 5,000 people show up. It’s become so popular that we now do Rainbow on Ice [during the holidays when Kinder Lake turns into an ice-skating rink], and this year in March we had our very first Rainbow and Roll with a roller rink.”
Both of those events were sparked by the popularity of the original Rainbow on the Green during Pride Week. As for those picnic baskets, you don’t have to bring one. In addition to the food and drink vendors, both of the park’s Schiller Del Grande restaurants—The Grove, and the more causal Lake House—will be open.
Mandel also points out that several new restaurants around the urban park are now open and offer patio views of the Rainbow festivities. Although the party starts at 7 p.m., if you get there right at 6:00 you can score a free street-parking space around the park. Otherwise, you can pay for the underground garage or one of the nearby lots.
And did we mention the entertainment? CeCe Peniston (whose signature “Finally” is one of the biggest-selling dance records in history) is headlining, and the Houston-based alt-folk band Colonial Blue will play. Yes, that Colonial Blue—whose lead singer and songwriter is Stephanie Rice, the Texas native who made it into the top 11 contestants on season 12 of The Voice before being eliminated on May 2.
Rice, who was abandoned by her parents because she came out as gay, won iTunes fame with her blind audition for the show with Kelly Clarkson’s sorrowful “Piece by Piece.” She got knocked out on the April 11 matchup with Troy Ramey, but coach Alicia Keys wisely used her steal to get Rice back. Rice again made a splash on May 1 with her soaring rendition of The Who’s “Behind Blue Eyes,” but it wasn’t enough to make it to the top 10.
In an interview with OutSmart, Rice called her run on The Voice “an incredible experience,” adding that she never thought she’d get as far as she did. The day after being eliminated, she wrote a thank-you song for her supporters, which will appear on her upcoming second album.
“The support from the fans, both here in Houston and on social media, was so inspiring,” Rice said. “I feel like a fire has been lit and I’m ready to go.”
Rice said she’s still unsure if her parents were even aware of her appearance on The Voice.
In addition to Rice, Rainbow on the Green will feature another you-won’t-want-to-miss-this act by Angelina DM Trailz. If you’ve been to Hamburger Mary’s or South Beach, you may have seen Angelina, whose stage name comes from Lady Gaga’s real name (Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta) and the character of Angel from Rent.
“I’m a Lady Gaga impersonator,” says Angelina. “And a classically trained violinist.” In fact, she studied violin at Houston’s High School for the Performing and Visual Arts and has been performing for 13 years, the last two in drag. With props.
“Playing the violin on a hoverboard in heels isn’t as easy as it looks,” she sighs. No, it doesn’t look easy at all, but she does it with style—and it may be one of the most entertaining things you’ll see during Pride Week.
This is her first time performing at Rainbow on the Green, although she did appear at the inaugural Rainbow and Roll. “I loved it,” she says. “It was the most diverse crowd I’ve ever performed for, and skating around and playing with the downtown backdrop behind the crowd was like I was performing for the whole city!”
Angelina isn’t sure if the park is going to allow her hoverboard—if not, she’ll go back to her rainbow-colored roller blades. Oh, and she’s learning to ice skate, so you just might see her later this year at Rainbow on Ice.
What: Land Rover Houston Central’s Rainbow on the Green, presented by Legacy Community Health
When: June 23 at 7 p.m.
Where: Discovery Green
Rainbow on the Green is sponsored by Land Rover Houston Central and Legacy Community Health, along with partners My Gay Houston, OutSmart, Greater Houston LGBT Chamber of Commerce, Schiller Del Grande Restaurant Group, AJ’s Urban Petals, CinerGy Works, LTR Lewis Cloverdale Foundation, Aspen Out, Out & Equal, OutReach United, Culinaire, and Wells Fargo.