Calgary Pride found its groove on Sunday as thousands gathered in the heart of the city to celebrate. The annual event, which was controversially moved from June to Labour Day weekend, had its best attendance ever. Although rain clouds loomed for most of the day, that didn’t stop revellers from dancing to thumping tunes spun by DJs in Olympic Plaza, Calgary’s downtown public square.
The day began at noon with the Pride Parade travelling east on Calgary’s historic Stephen Ave Mall. The event was 25 per cent larger this year with 40 parade entrants and 400 people participating, but there were some noticeable changes in the lineup: mainstays such as Priape Calgary and Twisted Element were absent. However, there was more participation from the Calgary community at large, including a local financial institution, a local daily newspaper and a handful of politicians.
By 1pm the parade spilled into Olympic Plaza as people took in the Pride street gala, which included a dance stage, beer garden, food, vendors and kids zone. Speeches were kept to a minimum by organizers and community leaders, while people checked out the vendor booths where they could enter contests, buy rainbow and cowboy swag, or learn about local queer community groups. The beer garden lineup was long, there were dogs and kids everywhere, and the dance stage was packed. Tourists took photos of themselves in front of the throngs. There seemed to be more young people than ever before at Pride.
As the afternoon progressed, people retreated to the lawns surrounding the Plaza or moved on to community events and fundraisers that were happening throughout the city. The sun broke through by late afternoon, rewarding the hundreds who stayed to dance in the Plaza. By this time the Pride Calgary organizers looked pleased, albeit a little tired, as the day had been seemingly executed flawlessly.
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