On Saturday, June 15, Columbus, Ohio celebrated 38 years of pride with it’s annual pride parade and festival. The event has grown from it’s small beginnings to an estimated 500,00 plus attendees and participants. While I cannot vouch for the numbers I can definitely say it was very well attended.
Since moving here to Ohio, I’ve wanted to see the parade but each year we timed our arrival terribly and were unable to find anywhere to park so this year we formulated a plan which worked perfectly. Mind you it involved leaving the house at 8 in the morning but it gave us time to find a perfect parking spot, time for breakfast and then time to walk along the parade route to find our spot to view and of course photograph.
There was a very large police presence there to make sure everyone stayed safe and often they had to tell the crowds to get back to the curb and make room for the marchers and floats. We did this back and forth dance the entire parade and of course as a photographer I was often right in the middle of the street.
While I didn’t see any protesting the parade I heard that there was a small group at the start of the parade and that’s alright. Freedom of speech and all that but where I walked along the route I saw a great deal of joy and acceptance or at least tolerance. When the bicycle group of police rode by the crowd cheered for them.
There were people attending and marching in the parade that I knew. There was also a large presence of local companies and groups (utility, health care, banking, clothing, food, some churches, schools and colleges, every local news station, etc.) with floats and marching as well.
They were handing/tossing out the usual parade swag like beads, candy, bags of chips (grabbed two) key chains, stickers, coupons for pizza, tote bags and more. I came home with a neat little tote bag of goodies; the chips never made it into the bag. But the bottom line of the entire festival was love, equality and acceptance. No one was trying to force any agendas anywhere; it was all about you being you.
(Photo bombed by a flag! The person was posing for me with butterfly wings spread wide and then the wind did this to both of us. They had to untangle themselves from it. )
Groups and individuals wore shirts and signs offering free hugs and the offers were taken. The joy was infectious as soon not only was I dancing and singing along with the music being played but I got in on the hugs too and normally I don’t like hugging anyone unless I’ve known you for a bit.
The rain threatened during the parade with a few sprinkles here and there and later on it poured during the festival but stakes were not pulled up and as the saying goes, the show went on and a wonderful time was had by all. Wish I had gotten one of those big fans that made such a cool noise when you snapped it open. Maybe next year…