Everyone loves a parade, and this year's Pride parade promises to be the biggest and best Halifax has seen. There are over 150 entries confirmed to walk/drive/float for Saturday's event.
"We've had parades for 23 years," says Ed Savage, co-chair of Halifax Pride, the Pride Week organizing committee. "But it's only been about the last eight years that started to take on a bigger life."
Last year, some 60,000 people lined the streets for the parade. With such strong support for its flagship event, the entire Pride Week festival has grown into an established community institution: The city's granted it "Hallmark" status and steady funding through the tourism-promoting hotel tax fund.
Given that emphasis on community, Halifax Pride stresses that the parade is a "family friendly" event. "A lot of the other pride parades, in Toronto or Montreal, will have a lot of nudity," explains Savage. "But we discourage that. There might be one or two people who will go there, but there's nothing we can do about that. We tell people this is a family friendly event, and we reserve the right to deny entry to floats." But the float builders have been cooperative, and the organization has never had to exercise that right.
In other words: bring the kids!
The Halifax Pride festival is the largest in the Maritimes, and a Maritime sensibility seems to permeate the parade, with entries ranging from churches to labour organizations to Crime Stoppers. The Coast is sharing a float with Hillcrest VW.
Marshalling of floats starts at 11:30am in the parking lot across from the dockyard, and the parade starts promptly at 1pm. It will travel down Barrington Street, up Spring Garden Road, turn onto South Park and end at the Garrison Grounds on Bell Road.
Savage says that even with the now-secure city funding, the parade is a money-loser for Halifax Pride, costing some $40,000 to put on. People watching the parade are encouraged to toss donations to offset those costs into the Pride flag that will be carried along the route.