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Atlanta Pride sticks to October in Piedmont Park

Georgia Aquarium during Atlanta Pride Kickoff Party

For the fourth consecutive year, Atlanta Pride will be held in Piedmont Park in October to coincide with National Coming Out Day.

This year’s festival will be held Oct. 12-13. National Coming Out Day is Friday, Oct. 11, the night of the Pride kick-off party at the Georgia Aquarium, which also returns for 2013 despite criticism from some animal activists last year.

"Atlanta Pride is excited to announce our dates for the 43rd Annual Atlanta Pride Festival. Planning for the 2013 festival began six months ago and we are, of course, always thrilled to return to Piedmont Park,” said Buck Cooke, Atlanta Pride executive director, in a press release today.

"National Coming Out Day continues to be a great fit for our festival and we are excited to have the Official Kick-off Party at the Georgia Aquarium occur on this very important date,” Cooke said.

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Does Atlanta Pride party hurt animals at Georgia Aquarium?

Georgia Aquarium during Atlanta Pride Kickoff Party

In an era of growing LGBT acceptance, perhaps the only thing controversial about Atlanta’s upcoming Pride festival is the now-annual Kickoff Bash at the Georgia Aquarium.

Animal rights activists, led by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, are protesting the event and out actress Jane Lynch even weighed in by sending a letter to the Atlanta Pride Committee’s Buck Cooke, urging Cooke to relocate the annual party over concerns for the animals’ well-being.

“Many of the marine mammals at the aquarium are extremely sensitive to sound, and large parties create an even more stressful environment than they already endure in captivity. … Since the kickoff party sets the tone for all of Pride, will you please consider moving it to one of the many alternative venues that Atlanta has to offer?” Lynch wrote.

Lynch’s letter followed a flurry of attention the party received last year over similar concerns over noise and how it affects the animals. PETA, at the time, called the event “a celebration of freedom in a building that celebrates captivity.”

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Atlanta Pride announces new interim leader

Buck Cooke, the new interim manager of the Atlanta Price Committee

The Atlanta Pride Committee today announced the hiring of Buck Cooke as the interim events manager. Cooke will handle the day-to-day operations of the APC during the search process for a new executive director.

The organization's previous executive director, James Parker Sheffield, stepped down from the position last week to take a job with the Health Initiative, which addresses LGBT health issues.

Cooke has volunteered with the APC in the past, including a recent position as the co-chair of the organization's entertainment committee.