Cleveland shows Pride

Laura Pappada

LGBT community gathers for annual celebration

A woman holds a sign in protest to the Cleveland Pride Parade. She refused to identify herself.

Credit: Beth Rankin

The Cleveland Lesbian-Gay-Bi-Trans Pride organization attracted thousands of people to Voinovich Bicentennial Park on Saturday to celebrate gay pride at the annual Greatest Pride festival.

The event kicked off at 1 p.m. with a circus-themed parade that traveled through downtown and filled the streets with music from the Capital Pride band and floats covered in rainbow balloons and flags. Television characters SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer and a pink Care Bear also marched in the parade.

After the parade, the festival began at 2 p.m. with a short rally outside the entrance gate. Speakers at the rally included Jane Campbell, city of Cleveland mayor, Cleveland City Councilman Joe Cimperman, and Thom Rankin, the chair of the board of directors for the Lesbian/Gay Community Center of Greater Cleveland.

Over 100 vendors pitched tents inside Voinovich Park to provide information, recruit members to organizations and sell artwork, clothes and food.

Aerial artists, magicians and musicians provided entertainment on three separate stages throughout the park. The highlight of the evening was a musical performance by Kimberly Locke, the third runner-up on the second season of “American Idol.”

Kelsey Scripture, freshman early childhood education major, attended the festival for the first time this year with junior theater major Kristen Tassone. Both students said they came to the festival to have fun, but they also kept the deeper cause in mind.

“For me, it’s the one day of the year I can walk down the street with the person I’m dating and not be scared I’m going to get harassed,” Scripture said.

Tassone said she thinks it is wonderful to attend such an event because “20 years ago something like this would have never happened.”

People of all ages joined in the festivities and there were designated areas with activities especially for children and animals.

The festival was free and open to the public with a suggested $5-$10 donation at the gate. The donations supported the funds for next year’s festival.

Contact general assignment reporter Laura Pappada at [email protected].