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Palm Springs 2014 PRIDE Celebration

November 9th, 2014

          Today was a big day for the LGBT community here in Coachella Valley and its nine individual cities. The annual PRIDE celebration weekend started on Friday with today its biggest starting with the annual PRIDE parade in Palm Springs. In years past the after parade celebration would take place several miles away in the local ballpark stadium. An entry fee was required in order to attend. This year the business district portion of Palm Canyon Drive (our main street) was closed to vehicle traffic all weekend. The street space was filled with vendors along with information and food booths. Travel services, government agencies (police, fire, city and county offices, etc.), food and drink (including a special street area set aside for consuming alcoholic beverages), and all manner of retail clothing, trinkets and other merchandise occupied a half-dozen blocks of booths.  As for money, donations were solicited but no entry fee was required.

           I arrived early and found a good spot along the parade route for viewing. Parked myself at the curb where I watched the passing spectacle of people on the sidewalk and those marching in the parade. Lots of colorful attire along with a few really imaginative costumes, vehicle and float designs. Two bands, the Desert Winds Freedom Band and the Palm Springs High School Band performed as they marched the route. A number of out-of-area groups marched in the parade along with area police, fire, paramedics, health services, entertainment venues, clubs, LGBT youth groups, old cars, more parade grand marshals than be counted on both hands, a few politicians, and various retail business establishments all passed by on the route. The parade started promptly at 10 am and ended shortly before noon. The route was less than a mile long and covered a portion of Palm Canyon Drive not set aside for the vendor booths. Afterwards I toured the booth area which also included two blocks of the Arenas cross street.

           Many parade participants worked the curbs by handing out paper leis, beaded necklaces, trinkets, candy, coupons and other merchandise. So many hung leis and beads around my neck that I began to feel like a necklace rack. Red, white, green, purple and blue colored necklaces became part of my attire by parade’s end. In addition to the necklaces I ended up with enough merchandise to fill a goodie bag. Two pair of sunglasses, three packages of  Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap, packages of moisturizing shampoo, an assortment of key chains, three plastic Rainbow theme wrist bands, a US Bank Band-Aid kit, a couple of paper Riverside County Deputy Sheriff badges, a paper fan from the LGBT Center, packages of condoms, a pink coaster, a whistle, a Lambda Legal button, a 2015 magnetic back calendar, a small Rainbow colored flag, a small Equality “=” flag, a ball point pen, candy (which I quickly gave away) and lots of card and paper products advertising businesses or services.

           In years past I’ve usually marched with one of the groups with which I’m affiliated. This year I almost did so again. At the last minute decided to watch the parade instead. Glad that I did for it was more fun than standing at the parade’s beginning waiting our turn to start the route. The weather was perfect and the crowd about as friendly and peaceful as possible. Would be surprised if the anticipated 20,000 attendees were present, but my crowd “gestimation” skills rank slightly below zero. Still, the parade route was filled with viewers and the same true of the vendor booth area I passed through following parade’s end.

           I assume next year’s parade and booth area will be even better. This year was the first for the new parade route and the downtown booths and I noticed a few startup pains. Organizers will have the benefit of this year’s experience when they plan 2015 and I’m confident the few hiccups I noticed will be gone next year.

           Looking forward to Greater Palm Springs Pride organization’s 2015 PRIDE celebration and parade.

Bond Shands
Sunday, November 9, 2014

LGBT Couples[TNR12] 

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