It was a breathtaking sight. A Pride celebration with hundreds of volunteers, hundreds of thousands of spectators and very few glitches.
At 1am on Monday morning, media spokesperson Martin Zibauer tiredly said that the event was deliriously successful. “We had reporters from as far away as Brazil.”
We’ll never know exactly how many people were there. Zibauer won’t give a crowd estimate. “It’s so hard to do. There are ways to do it, but it’s either very expensive or very inaccurate.”
Zibauer says the Sat, Jun 24 Dyke March crowd was noticeably larger than last year: “It was just enormous. It was way, way up.”
Police spokesperson Louise Gray also refused to give numbers. And she wouldn’t say how many officers were on duty Sun, Jun 25.
Gray did say that by 6pm, 10 ambulances had been called; eight people were transported to hospital.
Pride’s Zibauer says there were quite a few more 911 calls by the end of the day. “It’s just a theory, one of the reasons why there were more calls [is that] a lot of it was people collapsing, many of them from the heat, because it was an unexpectedly warm day after so many weeks of rain, people just weren’t prepared for the heat.”
Staff Sgt Fred Ellarby at police headquarters on College St says one person was arrested Û for stealing from cars. Ellarby was a patrolman back when drag queens had rocks thrown at them outside the Parkside Tavern during Halloween. Now, the parade is a routine event. “It’s quite a relief to see how it’s changed.”
– The cast of Mamma Mia did not perform at Pride in what Zibauer calls “a dispute between their management and their record company.”
– There was a lengthy gap near the beginning of the Pride parade because of a medical emergency at Yonge and Alexander.
– Plans to allow TTC streetcars to pass through the Sunday parade at College were ditched when city-supplied barricades “didn’t arrive properly,” says Zibauer. With an ever-growing crowd, “police made the decision to order the line closed. It was a safety issue.”
– Area residents complained about the fumes from a generator at Church and Gloucester. “We called the fire department… [which] tested the air beside the unit and determined everything was fine.” As a community relations measure, “on Sunday morning additional ventilation was installed.”
– The Overboard water-gun play area in the parking lot of The Beer Store had some space and technical problems. And the rubber Titanic slide had to be deflated (for technical reasons) every time it got wet on Saturday. “The Titanic sank and rose again several times,” laughs Zibauer. Kids loved it.
– The misting tent was a big hit during Sunday’s heat. “So many couples walked through and decided they had to kiss right in the middle of it. It was very cute.”
Pride will get even bigger next year because the new public square at Dundas and Yonge will be open. “It’s one of the reasons we pushed the parade down to Dundas, was to establish a precedent,” says Zibauer. Pride volunteers hope to have events in that park next time around.