Pride festival ends in a festive display

Energetic parade from Capitol Campus to Sylvester Park draws hundreds of spectators

rboone@theolympian.comJune 23, 2014 

A parade through the heart of downtown Olympia put the finishing touches on the Capital City Pride Festival, a weekend of events to celebrate the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

And Sunday’s parade got what every parade needs: sunny skies, plenty of participants and watchers, and all of it done in a celebratory atmosphere.

Hundreds lined the Capitol Way parade route, but most observers gathered in front of Sylvester Park and the Governor Hotel. Pride flags were hung from nearly every window of the hotel, and they also could be seen blowing in the breeze along the route. The parade started at the Capitol Campus and ended at Sylvester Park.

The roof of the Governor Hotel lobby also was where music was blasted to the audience and a master of ceremonies introduced pre-parade talent and each parade entry that passed the hotel. Singer Xavier Toscano of San Francisco was among those who warmed up the audience. He was followed by motorcyclists who raced up and down Capitol Way.

And then the parade was underway, featuring a mix of LGBT groups, churches, South Sound elected officials — including Olympia Mayor Stephen Buxbaum, Lacey Mayor Andy Ryder and Tumwater Mayor Pete Kmet — and several others running for elected office. A fire engine with the Olympia Fire Department brought up the rear.

Jessica Kennedy, 21, of Olympia said she goes to the parade every year. “I live in Olympia and want to support everyone here,” she said.

Lauren McDowell, 56, of Olympia also said that she tries to come every year. She comes because the parade is fun, she has a lot of friends in the LGBT community and she also has a transgender son. “It’s pretty darn colorful, and the audience is as entertaining as the parade,” she said.

Once again there was some news leading up to the festival.

The Olympia City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved an amendment to a city code to cover nondiscrimination policies related to the LGBT community.

The revision was prompted by Olympia’s score on the 2013 Municipal Equality Index, which is sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign. The index rates cities nationwide for their sensitivity and outreach to the LGBT community. Olympia scored 67 out of 100 possible points. In response, City Manager Steve Hall put together a task force to find ways to raise Olympia’s score.

In 2012, a group of Olympia High School students, staff and community members formed a counter-protest and a show of support for the LGBT community after members of Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas, known for its hostility toward the gay community, also protested at the high school.

Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403 rboone@theolympian.com @rolf_boone

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