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2016 Wilton Manors Stonewall Pride Parade & Festival

2016 Wilton Manors Stonewall Parade & Street FestivalSaturday, June 18, 3pm-11pm - Wilton Drive, Wilton Manors

Around 40,000 people gathered on Wilton Drive on Saturday to show signs of unity, support and love for the LGBTQ community.

The City of Wilton Manors hosted the 17th Annual Stonewall Parade and Street Festival on Saturday, June 18, 2016. This event commemorates the historical gay rights movement during the 1969 riots in New York City at the Stonewall Inn and this year it also served as a memorial to victims of the shooting at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando

A week ago the world became mortified when hearing the news of the largest mass shooting in U.S. history. On the brink of this horrific lgbt attack in Orlando, funerals continue and many victims remained hospitalized, but it appears the need for unity and solidarity has won over the expected fears that targeted LGBTQ attacks like this may continue. Many involved in this year’s Stonewall Pride have close personal ties with Pulse, gay Orlando and those directly impacted by the massacre.

Signs of outrage, sadness and support could be seen in hashtags that decorated most floats, cars, shirts, chests and many rears. The themes were clear: #lovewins, #weareorlando, #oneorlando, #orlandopride, #loveislove, #prayfororlando, #change, #orlandounited and #Pulse.  “Hate will not win,” said Wilton Manors Mayor Gary Resnick.

The parade began with 49 silent marchers holding signs bearing the names of the 49 victims of the Orlando shooting. The air was weighted with heavy thoughts, genuine pride and humidity. Ominous clouds and short rain bursts did not deter the crowd that gathered under the many large tents lining the street or under umbrellas cheering the parade participants on until the very end. Multiple stages hosted entertainment, food and drinks were bountiful, and strangers embraced each other in heartfelt hugs.

Police and emergency response teams could be found…everywhere, from protection outside the parameter to participation in the parade. It was apparent that they wanted people to feel safe. One sign read, “Broward’s Law Enforcement Has Your Back!” Attendees responded by thanking security again and again. Shortly after the parade ended, a downpour began and police evacuated the area due to weather, sending everyone home safe.

Wilton Manor’s 2016 pride event was sponsored by generous community supporters, LGBTQ media and Out of the Closet, a national organization that is owned and operated by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF).

Photos by: Miriam Cronkhite