'Fun, free and fabulous' WorldPride parade in Toronto
Published Sunday, June 29, 2014 7:49AM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, June 29, 2014 11:05PM EDT
The streets of Toronto were overflowing with rainbows and rowdy revellers on Sunday, as thousands of international visitors joined Canadians downtown for a massive WorldPride celebration featuring colourful floats, water guns, and a heavy dose of glitter.
Scorching temperatures didn’t stop more than 12,000 people from marching in this year's parade. The numbers were so overwhelming, the parade of more than 280 floats lasted approximately five hours – long enough to rank as one of the longest parades in Toronto’s history.
Crowds of revellers lined the parade route, which started in Toronto's Church-Wellesley neighbourhood at 1 p.m., before wending its way down Yonge Street towards Yonge-Dundas Square.
Many people in the parade donned rainbow-coloured outfits that have become a hallmark of the internationally renowned event.
This year marks the 34th time Toronto has hosted a pride parade and festival, topping off a city-wide LGBTQ festival that is estimated to bring more than two million visitors to Toronto, according to World Pride Toronto officials.
Max, a visitor from Turkey, said he was thrilled by the welcome he received.
“The city is colourful, it’s unbelievable,” he told CTV Toronto. “I’m very happy to be here.”
The Pride parade was more than just a celebration for Justin, after his experience being arrested in his home country of Russia.
“It feels amazing, it feels like a fairy-tale for me because I’m free, I’m human, I feel like a human, it’s very nice,” he told CTV Toronto.
The World Pride festival also included a human rights conference that was attended by hundreds of international delegates.
Toronto is the fourth city to host a WorldPride festival since they started in 2000. They have also been held in Rome, Jerusalem and London.
Sunday’s massive Pride parade was led by Rev. Dr. Brent Hawkes, a senior pastor at the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto. He’s become an icon of the Pride movement in the city, since he officiated over the very first legal marriage of a same-sex couple in Canada back in 2001.
“People have worked very hard for years to get our community to this stage. And to host World Pride is an honour, to be a part of today is an honour,” Hawkes told CTV Toronto.
Several big-name politicians also took part in the festivities, with Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and NDP Leader Tom Mulcair attending an outdoor church service held at the Metropolitan Community Church on Sunday morning.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne – Canada’s first openly gay premier – walked along the parade route with party-goers on Sunday, telling reporters the international attendees have been the highlight of the pride celebrations for her.
“What’s really been wonderful is that so many people from countries who do not have the freedoms that we have, have had the opportunity to experience this.”
After World Pride festivities wind down at Toronto’s Yonge-Dundas Square Sunday evening, organizers pass the torch to Madrid, Spain – the next city chosen to host WorldPride in 2017.
With files from CTV Toronto’s Naomi Parness and Denise Andreacchi, and The Canadian Press