By Marene Gustin
Grab the folding lawn chairs or blankets, and pack the picnic baskets. It’s time once again for Rainbow on the Green, the biggest outside out party in town.
“This is our fifth year,” says Barry Mandel, president of Discovery Green, the downtown park where the Rainbow event will be held on June 12. Mandel expects some 5,000 people to attend; it’s a much larger party than its sister event, Rainbow on Ice, held in the winter when Kinder Lake morphs into a giant skating rink.
“Rainbow on the Green is just a great event,” Mandel says. “It’s grown every year.”
This year, Land Rover Houston Central is sponsoring the party with Legacy Community Health, My Gay Houston, Out & Equal, Wells Fargo Bank, Cinergy Works, AJ’s Urban Petals, Silver Eagle Distributors, Houston Arts Alliance, Houston Gaymers, and Tony’s, along with media partners OutSmart, Mix 96.5, KPRC Channel 2, Comcast, and Univision.
“It’s a free event—a way to celebrate the LGBT community and open the park to our community,” Mandel adds.
And while admission is free, those in search of a V.I.P. experience can purchase a $25 ticket (at discoverygreen.com/rainbow) for a V.I.P. tent with covered seating, food and beverages, and floral decorations. The Four Seasons Hotel (just across the street) is offering a discounted room rate to V.I.P. ticket holders.
But it’s just as fun mingling with the hoi polloi by bringing the aforementioned lawn chair or blanket—and snacks, if you want, although there will be food for sale. The Lake House, the causal-concept restaurant from Schiller Del Grande that sits on the south shore of Kinder Lake, will be serving up tacos and some delicious grilled corn on the cob—perfect party park food. You can also purchase beer and wine since you can’t bring alcoholic beverages (or glass containers or pets) to the event.
As for entertainment, there will be no shortage of that.
Houston Gaymers, the largest gay gamer community in Texas, will be on hand to offer you the opportunity to play Super Smash Bros., Wii U, and Mario Kart—and a Just Dance setup so you can move your feet to the beat.
Best of all, Derrick Barry is bringing back his Britney Spears routine and an all-new Lady Gaga act. Also on hand will be Coco Montrese (one of RuPaul’s Drag Race top-five contestants), international best-selling recording artist Reina, and Grammy-nominated Marie-Claire “Amber” Cremers. Mix 96.5’s Chad Pitt will return as event emcee.
“The first year of Rainbow on the Green, New York had just passed same-sex marriage, so that was a real celebration,” Mandel says. In 2013, the event happened shortly after the Supreme Court struck down part of DOMA, and last year the event celebrated Houston’s HERO ordinance. “Hopefully, this year we’ll have an even better reason to celebrate,” Mandel says. (At press time, the Supreme Court had not yet ruled on the same-sex marriage cases.)
Rainbow on the Green is a run-up to Houston Pride Week (June 21–28) that culminates in the Houston LGBT celebration and parade on June 27—to be held downtown for the first time in its 36-year history.
While the move to downtown has been controversial, Rainbow on the Green has been a popular downtown LGBT event since it began there in 2011. “Just to see all these people dancing and having fun outdoors in Houston with the city skyline as a backdrop is a wonderful experience,” Mandel says.
And we have to agree.
What: Land Rover Houston Central’s Rainbow on the Green
When: June 12 at 7 p.m.
Where: Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney St.