Vancouver Pride Parade!

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Pride Week in Vancouver is a busy and colourful time honouring the city’s diversity, inclusiveness and its vibrant LGBTQ2+ community.

2016 marks the 38th annual Pride celebration in Vancouver. The event has been going strong since 1978.

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The author enjoying Pride in 2002

The big party is best known for the family-friendly Pride Parade, which will be held Sunday, July 31st. Hundreds of thousands of spectators crowd into the West End for a rainbow-washed party featuring at least 150 floats. Brilliantly costumed, head-dressed, sequined and bejeweled dancers rub shoulders with marching bands, representatives from local businesses, service organizations, the fire department, ambulance service, police and politicians, just to name a few.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is even joining the parade this year, the first time a sitting prime minister has ever taken part!

My favourite group is Dykes on Bikes, the lesbian motorcycle club that traditionally launches the parade. When you see these fearless women roaring down the street toward you on their Harley’s (and other makes) of motorcycle, you know the big event is underway.

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The parade can take more than two hours to pass, but it’s not all standing and watching. Local businesses hand out water, juice or other swag. Keep an eye peeled for colourful beaded necklaces being tossed from floats.

Don’t forget to fill your pockets with toonies to donate to the Safeway Toonie Brigade. Volunteers with collection buckets move along the parade route taking donations for the Vancouver Pride Society. They raised nearly $6,000 for the society in 2015.

The Pride Parade, with this year’s theme of Better Together, starts rolling at noon. It begins at Robson and Thurlow, heads north on Robson to Denman then west on Denman to Beach Avenue, wrapping up at the Pride Festival at Sunset Beach.

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Of course, if the parade isn’t enough, you can check out the Pride Festival, beginning at 11 a.m. on Pride Sunday at Sunset Beach. More than 100 exhibitors will be featured in the Pride Market — everything from local artists to community organizations and great food. Bands, drag queens and speakers highlight the main stage and, for the thirsty with appropriate ID, a beer garden is available.

The parade and festival are the best known events of Pride Week, but there are dozens more parties, breakfasts and performances to experience. Check out vancouverpride.ca for a full list. Everyone is welcome, so join Vancouver’s open-hearted lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and two-spirited community for a party that celebrates the unique and amazing in all of us.

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