The 27th annual Calgary Pride Parade left a downtown city street awash in the colours of the rainbow as participants and spectators celebrated inclusion, pride and diversity.

The parade, the feature event of the 11 days of the Calgary Pride Festival, attracted an estimated crowd of nearly 70,000 people to the downtown core.

Lois Szabo, 81, was the honourary marshal of the 2017 parade.  She says the event symbolizes progress.

“It’s just such a pleasure to see everybody, particularly the young people, who have the freedom now to be who they want to be and who they are and they don’t have to hide in the closet,” said Szabo. The 81-year-old says she embraced the opportunity to represent other women and seniors within the gay community

Premier Rachel Notley said she was a proud parade participant. "It’s a wonderful event, a wonderful opportunity to celebrate all that is so good about Alberta in terms of our diversity and our inclusion and the strength that that gives us.”

Members of the recently formed United Conservative Party were welcome to watch the parade from the sidelines but Calgary Pride officials said further conversations regarding the party's policies and platforms would need to occur before UCP members could march in the parade.

Prior to the start of the parade, the premier commended Calgary Pride's stance on UCP participation.

"it’s important for any advocate, whether a partisan party or anyone else, to not only talk-the-talk but walk-the-tall," said Notley. "To take positions that will really support the community that we are here celebrating and standing up for here today.”

“Quite honestly, the UCP does not currently have that as part of their record.”

Ace Peace was participating in his third Calgary Pride Parade but Sunday's parade was his first time marching near the front. He says he take great pride in being out in front.

“It means a lot to me because I’m kind of a poster boy for trans issue,” said Peace. “I want to be proud and I don’t want to have to fight to be proud and I like that we can do this in our city.”

Participants in the parade made their way west along 6 Avenue, north along 6 Street before the parade reached Prince’s Island Park where the celebrations continued at ‘Pride in the Park’.

With files from CTV's Jordan Kanygin