Toronto
2 min

Surviving Pride

It gets better with experience

DON'T FORGET YOUR WATERGUN. Go light on the clothes and heavy on the sunscreen. Credit: Xtra files

When actor and writer Diane Flacks was invited to be one of the judges in this year’s Pride parade, the first thing she asked was, “Can I be airlifted in?” Eight months pregnant, Flacks says that, “I am a float, in the best possible way.”



Like many of us, Flacks can be a bit intimidated by the sheer volume of people – estimates of one million participants for this year are not unreasonable compared to the 800,000-person head counts last year – who descend on the city for Pride festivities. (It is a long weekend, after all.) But there are ways to avoid frustration and embrace fun.



First know the basics: the Dyke March is Sat, Jun 29 at 2pm, starting at Charles and Church, heading north to Bloor, west to Yonge and down Yonge to Alexander-ish. The Pride parade is Sun, Jun 30 at 2pm, starting at Church and Bloor, heading west to Yonge and south on Yonge to Dundas.



Watch out for street closures: On Fri, Jun 28, Church St from Gloucester to Carlton is closed for partying until 11pm Sunday.



That’s the terrain, but the hundreds of thousands of people who will be occupying it complicate things.



Flacks’ advice for survival is to make sure you have water.



“And leave your dogs at home. One year we brought our dog with us, poor thing! We got way too dehydrated.”



Rachel Giese, producer and co-host of PrideVision TV’s Shout newsmagazine, usually moves toward the margins to stay sane.



“The day, itself, is so crowded, so I usually get involved in events leading up to Pride. But this year, I’ll be on the PrideVision TV float. After all these years, I think it will be more fun to be in the parade than watch it.”



Besides obvious concerns like water and sunscreen is the inevitability of separation-anxiety. Have you heard about the two guys who hit it off while watching the parade and, swept up by the wave of humanity later on Church St, never saw one another again? Whether you are with old or new friends – pick a rendezvous spot.



“I’m fortunate in that I live at Church and Alexander and can always run away and take a break,” says Toronto City Councillor Kyle Rae. “Restrict activities and plan things away from the central site.”



Rae also suggests arranging easy-to-access meeting places.



“My partner and I split up and meet later at a certain time. I have political obligations and it’s not fair to drag him along. And this year his mother is visiting from England. She’s 76.”



Rae suggests using the east-west streets that intersect Yonge and Church to navigate the parade. He also suggests hanging out on Church St before the parade.



“When the parade starts, Church is empty and you can run back and forth to the parade fairly easily.”



You can also use the alleyways off Yonge to follow the parade when the crowds get too thick. The parkettes east of Yonge, north of Wellesley are also perfect places to relax outside the crowds and provide easy escape routes.



People can get cranky when their tummies start to rumble. Familiar landmarks become blurred. Never forget that gay-friendly Cabbagetown is only a 15-minute walk east of the Pride nerve centre and that Parliament St is home to many restaurants with patios.



A handy way to go under the crowds rather than around them is to buy a Toronto Transit Commission day pass. On Sundays and holidays the $7.50 pass covers unlimited travel for two adults (and up to four kids).



* TORONTO PRIDE PARADE.

2pm. Sun, Jun 30.

www.pridetoronto.com