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Dykes on Bikes to lead Pride parade as usual, VPS confirms

'Tell the dykes, just show up': Holman

Dykes on Bikes traditionally lead the Vancouver Pride parade. This year is no different, Pride Society president Ken Coolen confirms, despite rumours to the contrary. Credit: Sarah Race photo

The Vancouver Pride Society says it’s all systems go for the Dykes on Bikes to lead the July 31 parade as usual, despite growing speculation that the ad hoc group’s participation was up in the air.

Pride Society president Ken Coolen says that when he got wind of the rumours on July 20, he checked with the parade co-chairs. “They were like, ‘I hope they show up because we have them leading off the parade. They’re on our list,’” Coolen reports.

“Any speculation of them participating is not coming from us. They’ve done it for as many years as I can remember, and I’m a pretty old girl,” Coolen adds with a laugh.

He says he usually doesn’t hear from the group before parade day, adding that it’s “a come-as-you-are sort of situation.”

“The only thing we get them to do is sign a waiver, which says they are going to abide by the rules of the road, and that’s all we do. There’s no charge for entry fee.” 

Coolen believes some of the speculation may have arisen as a result of a Facebook posting by longtime Dykes on Bikes “Daddy” Shaira Holman, announcing she wouldn’t be involved in organizing this year’s entry. Holman confirms that she’s decided to step away because she’s unable to lead the parade without her wife, Catherine, who died in a plane crash in 2009.

But Holman says there’s no question about the group not leading the parade. “Of course the Dykes on Bikes are leading the parade,” she emphasizes. “Tell the dykes, just show up.”

Artist Patricia Atchison, who led the Dyke on Bikes last year, says she’s positive they will be in the parade. “The only reason I say that I’m sure is because they have to be. They are the beginning of the parade,” she says.

“Who’s going to take over organizing, I’m not sure,” she adds, saying she’ll try to be there herself.

Another rumour making the rounds is that the police motorcycle drill team will lead the parade rather than the Dykes on Bikes.

A City of Vancouver email leaked to Xtra states in part that the Vancouver Police Drill Team “kicks off the parade.” But Coolen says that’s not accurate.

The drill team is part of the pre-parade process that goes on about 20 minutes before the start of the actual parade, which traditionally starts at noon, he says. “At noon, the first entry out of the gates will be Dykes on Bikes,” he repeats.

Following the Dykes on Bikes will be the Colour Guard, First Nations groups and the grand marshals, Coolen says. “After that, I couldn’t tell you,” he adds, noting that the city contingent is further back in the parade.

An important change to this year’s pre-parade segment will be a march of some 500 Outgames athletes between 11:20 and 11:30am, Coolen reveals.

One of this year’s Pride grand marshals, drag star Joan-E, will also be part of the pre-parade to accommodate her request to continue as parade MC at The Boathouse, Coolen adds. “So we will be sending Joan-E down early.”

Coolen says there will be a posting on the Pride website that “it’s parade as usual.”