Beaming with Pride: Locals cheer Bklyn LGBTQ festival as bright day for boro • Brooklyn Paper

Beaming with Pride: Locals cheer Bklyn LGBTQ festival as bright day for boro

Flags of fun: Ellison and Matthew Budd flew the rainbow flag at the Brooklyn Pride festival in Park Slope on June 9.
Photo by Jason Speakman

Talk about a proud day for Brooklynites!

Thousands from the borough and beyond descended on Park Slope on Saturday to celebrate Kings County’s LGBTQ community at events that culminated with an absolutely fabulous parade along Fifth Avenue that was far superior to similar marches staged across the East River, according to an attendee.

“I love this one the best,” Park Sloper Judy Roy said of the annual Brooklyn Pride parade. “It’s not as crazy as in Manhattan.”

This year’s evening march featured four floats, 60 participating organizations, and roughly 800 people, all of whom proudly stepped behind the bike-riding gals of the Siren Women’s Motorcycle Club, who led the rainbow-colored cavalcade as it proceeded along Fifth Avenue from Sterling Place to Ninth Street before a joyous crowd that didn’t disperse until after 9 pm, another attendee said.

“The parade went for almost an hour and a half. It was never like that,” said Jeanne Scarito, who also lives in Park Slope.

The 22nd-annual festivities kicked off earlier that day in Prospect Park, with a 5K run that awarded individual prizes to male, female, and transgender athletes, according to an organizer, who said no other race in the city hands out awards to competitors of all three gender identities — some of whom wore rainbow tutus for the occasion.

“We’re probably the most colorful 5k as well,” said Brooklyn Pride co-chair Mickey Heller.

Following the race, proud revelers moved from the park to the pavement on Fifth Avenue, where representatives for various city agencies, health-care providers, and community groups set up booths for a street fair between First and Ninth streets that kicked off at 11 am.

Festival-goers strolled the fair collecting freebies and receiving health screenings until 5 pm, when vendors closed up shop to prepare for the 7:30 pm parade — leaving time for celebrants to kill by patronizing Fifth Avenue’s many stores, restaurants, and bars during what’s become one of the most profitable days of the year for local mom-and-pop shops, according to a local business booster.

“This event drives a lot of business,” said Mark Caserta the head of Park Slope’s Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District. “After the fair breaks up, all the people need somewhere to go for two hours, and everything fills up really quickly.”

And the 54-year-old Scarito — who said she came out as a lesbian when she was 16 — said watching events like Brooklyn Pride grow to become the festivals they are today has given her plenty to be proud about.

“We paved the way,” she said. “You couldn’t walk around the neighborhood, buy a magazine, tell your employer. Now, to watch these kids, I love it.”

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.

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