Colourful crowd of thousands gather in celebration of diversity
Unseasonably chilly weather did little to dampen the spirits of participants and spectators during the 25th annual Calgary Pride Parade, the marquee event of the final day of the 2015 Calgary Pride Festival.
“It’s so nice to see Calgary Pride grow the way it has,” said Kayla Strong, a born and raised Calgarian, .
Strong says the tens of thousands of people along the parade route may not echo the numbers reached in other cities, but it is encouraging none the less.
“I think in Vancouver we had close to 700,000 people on the route, but (Calgary Pride) is getting there. It’s very cool to see.”
Angie Webster, along with her husband and daughter, cheered on the parade from a spot on 9 Ave.S.W.
“We want to support it,” said Webster. “We wanted to show our daughter about Pride and what it’s all about, and that love is love, no matter what.”
Brian Burke, the Calgary Flames’ president of hockey operations, said he was flattered to be asked to be this year’s parade marshal.
“It’s cold but it’s fun,” said Burke. “I think it’s important for everyone in this city. It’s a good chance for all Calgarians to say that (the LGBTQ) community is important to us, which it is, and the turnout is terrific.”
Burke has been a vocal proponent for gay rights and an activist against homophobia in sports.
“I had a boy that was gay, we lost him in a car accident a few years ago, so that’s how I got involved personally.”
Sunday's parade included members of the Calgary Police Service, Calgary Fire Department, Emergency Medical Service, RCMP, the Calgary Flames, the Calgary Hitmen, the Calgary Roughnecks, and a number of politicians.
Mayor Nenshi walked alongside a number of his fellow city councillors to illustrate the fact Calgary is accepting.
“Calgary is built on the fact that we welcome everyone and we give everyone an opportunity to succeed here,” said Mayor Nenshi. “It doesn’t matter who you are, or where you came from, or whom you love, you have the opportunity to live a great Canadian life.”
Sunday's Pride Parade concluded with a free music festival at Millennium Park.