2 min

Burnin’ up

Pride overflows all over downtown

Who really knows how many people attend Toronto’s Pride?

Organizers don’t count bodies, nor do the police. Newspaper reports vary from 125,000 (ridiculously low) to one million but don’t specify whether that’s the parade, the week-long slate of events or the number of tourists in the city.

Never mind the exact figure – a walk around downtown last weekend showed it likely was Toronto’s biggest Pride ever. Organizers don’t have the final numbers yet, but do know that its beer-garden sales – which account

for about one-third of Pride’s revenues – set records.

“It was a combination of the weather and entertainment,” says Pride Toronto cochair Fred Pitt. “We fielded good entertainment and people went to see it.”

One figure that is available is the size of the parade; at 158 entries, it was the largest ever. Ignoring a delay of more than

20 minutes, it took about two and a half hours to pass any given point.

The Church St closure extended from Carlton all the way to Bloor this year, giving the hordes of street-strollers more room to move. Despite the hot, humid weather, Pitt says there were fewer incidents of heat stroke and de-hydration than in previous years.

“Are people getting smarter? Drinking more water?” wonders Pitt, who will be stepping down

as cochair after his two-year term. His female counterpart, Natasha Garda, has another year to go.

Organizing glitches seemed to be minimal. For example, nudists walked in the parade without police harassment – though they were allotted a spot suspiciously close to a Conservative Party supporter entry.

“There were a few things on the logistical side that you wouldn’t see unless you were involved. Like getting tents in place at the right time. Getting water delivered to the right place at the right time,” says Pitt.

It was the first year for Pride’s gala event, which sold out and raised $20,000.

Next year could see more changes in the way Pride is run. Executive director Frank Chester has resigned and Pitt says there’s a larger-than-usual turnover on the Pride board of directors.

Here are the parade winners for 2005, chosen by judges Rick Mercer, Paul Bellini, Cassandra Nicolaou and Gail Maurice.

Best Celebration Of Theme: Arco-Iris, the Portuguese-speaking GLBT group

Most Fabulous Choreography: Gays And Lesbians Of African Descent (GLAD)

Most Fabulous Float: Canadian Foundation For AIDS Research (CANFAR)

Best Community Float: Two-Spirited People Of The First Nations

Most Fabulous Costumes (group): The Latino group Hola

Outstanding Community Marching Group: Pelau Masquerade

Most Fabulous Hat: Mario Fonseca for a birthday cake hat

Most Fabulous Costume: Stephen Sterrett for his silver dreds

Special Judges Award For Most Explosive Group And Most Resembling Straight Guys On A Pub Crawl: U of T Engineers.