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Pride takes over Vancouver

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – West Enders will get the partying out of their system later today, as the 27th annual Pride Parade wraps up a weekend of fun.  The theme of this year’s parade is ‘Liberate.’

Pride is a chance for people to catch up with friends, watch a bit of fun, colour and pageantry. Around 700,000 people were expected to show up at the parade this year. Fans come from all over, not just various spots of the Lower Mainland.

Vancouver Pride Society President Ken Coolen says just showing up at the event sends a positive message of acceptance.  “Children, families and brothers and sisters drop by the parade and send that message to people near and far who seem to have problems with us that maybe their lack of understanding is misplaced.”

But throwing a party this big can be expensive. That is why Coolen is lobbying to make it an official civic event, much like the Celebration of Light. “That would mean we would not have to pay for policing, road closures, signage and sanitation at the price that we do… The city does give us a grant, which pays for a portion of it, but it’s still the largest single bill that we get.”

News1130 chatted with a camera-toting family from overseas, who picked this time of year because of the fireworks and because they love a parade.  Motorcyclists with Washington State plates were seen resting comfortably in front of one gay establishment, as they await today’s event.

Ron Stipp with West Enders Against Violence Everywhere says despite a number of high profile gay bashings in recent years, things are improving. “That is a great credit to the Vancouver Police Department and the Mayor of Vancouver… The message that homophobia is not part of the community and has to stay out.”

He says that his hope is that those who come down for the parade today will remember that homophobic remarks and behavior are not welcome in the neighbourhood.

Not everyone who attends the festivities is gay, but for those who are, it’s a chance for them to show family, friends and the world they have no reason to be ashamed of who they are.

There will be a number of road closures due to the parade, so make sure to keep it on News1130 for the latest updates in traffic every 10 minutes on the ones.