Pittsburgh pride parade celebrates community's diversity
Rainbow streamers clung to traffic lights, free-spirited dancers shashayed across blocked-off streets and gutsy festival goers whizzed by skyscrapers on a zip line Sunday afternoon as LGBT rights supporters filled Downtown Pittsburgh.
The city's annual PrideFest and related EQT Equality March drew tens of thousands of celebrants, with people of all ages and backgrounds decked out in colorful clothing and carrying signs promoting unity and equal treatment for everyone, no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Sunday marked the tenth and final day of this year's Pride events organized by the Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh , which aims to improve the quality of life for the LGBT community. Officials anticipated more than 130,000 attendees over the 10-day schedule.
Pittsburgh's first Pride march was held on June 17, 1973.
"Pittsburgh always represents," said Jacqueline Allan, 55, of Swissvale, who donned a set of wings made of rainbow-colored balloons. "This city is beautiful, it's open, inclusive. And I feel that it's very important to continue that tradition."
The Rise Up For Our Rights Rally started at noon at PPG Paints Arena, prior to the EQT Equality March.
Pittsburgh Pride ️ pic.twitter.com/f4TO8bNlfJ— ariana (@pledguilty) June 11, 2017
The march began around 12:30 p.m. from PPG Paints Arena and continued toward Grant Street. More than 100 groups of people walked the route or paraded by spectators in floats, including nonprofit partners, corporate sponsors, law enforcement, first-responders, recreational clubs and representatives from Pittsburgh Public Schools.
The parade concluded shortly after 2 p.m. at Liberty Avenue, which was closed to traffic between Sixth and Tenth streets. The party continued with PrideFest, featuring live performances, a 300-foot-long zip line and dozens of LGBT-friendly informational booths and activity stations.
"There's such a huge air of acceptance here that people can just be themselves and be honest about who they are," said Jennifer Sikora, 44, of Franklin Park, associate area director for the Western Pennsylvania chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
"We have very honest conversations at our tent with people because they're comfortable," Sikora continued. "This is a safe venue from them to open up about anything, including their challenges with mental health."
Among the most popular PrideFest swag: red and blue T-shirts with a message written in U.S. Constitution-style script — "We the People means everyone."