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Montreal Pride earns its stripes

Organizers peg attendance at 200,000

Can there be a more colourful Pride parade than one with a fiesta theme?

Montreal’s Célébrations de la fierté weekend wrapped up on a clearly festive note yesterday, maintaining steady growth three years after its separation from Divers/Cité.

Along with the additions of art exhibits and theatre performances this year, Bad Boys Club Montreal inaugurated a new annual tradition with its rooftop Pride Party at nearby Place Ville-Marie’s Club Altitude. Local mainstays like DJ Mark Antony and performer Michel Dorion were of course, in high gear, while a bizarre number of T-dances took the stage to celebrate everything from the Stonewall riots to the Tropics.

“I’m very pleased with how things turned out,” reports Célébrations de la fierté director Éric Pineault. “Along with increased participation, the Fiesta theme was loud and colourful.”

As parade winners are unveiled this week in categories ranging from Best Float to Best Use of the Parade Theme, Pineault estimates parade attendance at 200,000, up from 150,000 in 2008. Saturday’s Community Day also showed a rise in kiosk participation by 135 groups, up from last year’s 115 participants. It’s baby steps, of course, for a Pride that is no longer held on a long weekend for neighbouring Ontario. But in a city that closes its gay Village to traffic all summer, that’s all water under the Jacques Cartier Bridge — especially for Montrealers now celebrating Pride every day in summer.

Securing provincial and municipal support this year, Pineault adds there has been little impact on Célébrations de la fierté in the wake of government controversy over the funding of Toronto Pride and Divers/Cité via the Marquee Tourism Events Program this year. Célébrations simply didn’t apply for the program.

“I am still really concerned over it,” Pineault warns, “as we are considering applying for the program this September for next year.”

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Photos by Farah Khan.