400,000 watch America’s
biggest Pride celebration
This group of motorcycle riders participated in the CSW Gay Pride Parade on Sunday in West Hollywood, California. © SGE, Inc. All rights reserved.
AN ESTIMATED 400,000 cheering, happy people gathered in West Hollywood, California on Sunday to watch the oldest and largest gay pride parade in America.
Leading the parade, as is customary, were the Dykes on Bikes. Within feet of the very front of the more than 130 parade entrants were two guys on a Honda Shadow VF 750 motorcycle. They would not be mistaken for Dykes on anything.
“It is one of the biggest gay pride celebrations and one of the oldest gay pride celebrations, anywhere in the country and anywhere in the world,” said West Hollywood City Councilman John Heilman in an interview contained in the video below this post.
WATCH THE VIDEO BELOW THE FOLD.
One of the Dykes on Bikes prepares her Harley Davidson, festooned with flags, before the parade began on Sunday. © SGE, Inc. All rights reserved.
HEILMAN, ELECTED TO the very first city council when the city of West Hollywood was formed in 1984, has served seven times as the city’s mayor.
He was interviewed on Saturday afternoon as he was conducting tours of the now famous public library of the city of West Hollywood.
“The parade brings a huge benefit to the city,” he said. “We love our visitors.”
It is a day of celebration and joy and happiness like no other.
Before dawn, crowds of officials – from the West Hollywood Sheriffs Department to the hundreds of volunteers for parade sponsor Christopher Street West – arrived to make the preparations.
The busy thoroughfare Santa Monica Boulevard was closed to traffic. Slowly the floats assembled in line as those who were to ride and perform on them arrived in their splendid costumes.
The pre-party was a great deal of fun. I was searching for the gay men’s motorcycle group, but alas, this year it did not participate.
On the spur of the moment, we signed up for Dykes on Bikes. Because we had arrived so early, we were fifth in line. Each row of motorcycles was four across; that means we were in the second row.
The crowd roared above the sound of our motorcycle engines as we turned from Crescent Heights Boulevard onto the parade route at about 11 a.m.
The feeling of receiving love from half a million people is indescribable. Words cannot do it justice.
We hope it comes across in the video below.
I am seen with my motorcycle lined up with the Dykes on Bikes before the parade on Sunday. © SGE, Inc. All rights reserved.
A FEW ACKNOWLEDGMENTS must be made here.
Special thanks to Chris Arboleda of LuckyBreak PR, who was in charge of media relations for the event. It was his kindness in accepting my press credentials that made this story and video possible.
Former Mayor John Heilman is awesome. He remembered that we have an acquaintance going back 25 years. We are both older and wiser. He has chosen a path of public service; his continual reelection to the West Hollywood City Council demonstrates they love him there, too.
DJ Raul Meneses, who stars in the fabulous closing scenes for the video, is a terrific sport. He so kindly allowed me to stand right next to him as he worked the turntables furiously. The dancers are totally unaware of how hard the DJ works; perhaps you can get some idea through this video. Raul, you have a little gift coming your way!
Every Los Angeles-area television station I checked Sunday evening featured this event on the news. If it had not been for the tragic shooting in Santa Monica on Friday, it’s probably would have been the lead story.
Last but not least, I must acknowledge my dear friend Helmet Cameraman Jim Pekkala, who so expertly held the Nikon Coolpix camera, mounted on a monkey tripod, on my head during the entire parade.
He started running video moments before the parade kicked off around 11 a.m., and kept it running until the battery failed on our return ride to the starting line on Melrose Boulevard.
We spent the afternoon at the festival collecting the additional footage.
Watch the video and celebrate with us – and a half million others – the number one event on the calendar of the Los Angeles area gay community.