Pride London Festival: Large crowds and sunny skies combine for a colourful parade ending to Pride London’s 10-day festival

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Love is love.

That was the general consensus coming from the thousands of people who lined downtown during the annual Pride London parade Sunday.

People waving rainbow Pride flags and wearing brightly-coloured clothing, hats and hair extensions danced and cheered along the sidewalks of Queens Avenue and Wellington Street for almost three hours as different floats passed by in the Pride London festival-ending parade.

“We just want to show our support and love,” Maddie Torrefranca said.

This was Torrefranca’s first year at Pride London, and she showed up decked out in tie-dye with two friends excited to celebrate with everyone.

More people lined the parade route, held under sunny skies, than ever before, said Andrew Rosser, Pride London’s president.

Many new organizations, such as the London Health Sciences Centre and the Canadian Coast Guard, also participated this year.

“People have been so happy with the celebration,” said Rosser. “Our festival has definitely grown.”

Parade floats ranged in size and colour, and every organization was dancing and cheering its way along the route with vocal support from the crowds.

The Thames Valley District school board drove a school bus, surrounded by many of the public board’s students, in the parade while the Forest City Derby Girls skated through waving Pride flags and wearing colourful tutus.

“We’re seeing all the incredible people dressed up and sporting how happy they are,” said Jessica Harold, who caught the end of the parade in Victoria Park with her friends.

“Some people might not have family support and we have an entirely huge field full of family right now.”

While some protesters did show up, they were met with many pro-Pride cheers from festival-goers who brought their own signs in retaliation.

Conrad and Jennifer Odegaard said they went to the parade to support their neighbours. The two live a few houses down from a residence in Old South whose Pride flag was removed and destroyed by vandals, with holes burned into it.

“I think hearing about the flag down the street being burned made us want to come out in full force,” Jennifer Odegaard said.

Rosser said that over the course of the 10-day festival, Pride London saw an increase in attendance at all of the events with features like comedy night and the Pride dinner selling out. He said many people were attracted to the family-friendly activities as well such as the Pride swim and drag queen storytime events.

“Overall, it’s been very positive,” Rosser said. “It’s just nice to see so many people out supporting the community.”

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