Neither missing sponsors, last-minute glitches, a Tower District sex purveyor nor the wettest June 4 on record could keep the 21st Fresno Pride parade and festival from being truly “Legally Proud!”
As Pride Weekend kicked off Friday evening, the clouds were gathering. The National Weather Service was forecasting that it was going to rain on our parade. Parade CEO Jeffrey Robinson was casting a jaundiced eye toward the heavens, praying the rain not to be.
Although there were clouds overhead, Fresno was brightened by visiting members of the California Legislative Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Caucus. State Senator Christine Kehoe (D–San Diego) and Assembly Members Toni Atkins (D–San Diego) and Richard Gordon (D–Redwood City) joined Pride grand marshals Andrew McIntosh, Matt Mazzei and Robin McGehee and community members for wine and food. Sen. Kehoe presented Robinson with a proclamation at the gathering at the downtown community art collective on P Street. Another caucus member, Assembly Member Ricardo Lara (D–Bell Gardens), walked in the parade the next morning with Kehoe, Atkins and Gordon.
Pride morning dawned gloomy and wet. At 15 minutes before the parade was due to start, Robinson’s worst fears looked like they were coming true—hardly anybody was out along Olive Avenue. Then suddenly, the sidewalks began to fill up with spectators. The patios at Starbucks, Irene’s and the other restaurants along Olive were jammed with people.
The parade was on! As the Fresno Express float brought the parade to a close, the crowd flocked to the festival grounds. Fresno police were unable to reopen Olive or Wishon because of the huge crowd lined up at the festival gate. Robinson estimated parade spectators well in excess of 1,000 and those at the festival at 2,000 plus.
The big surprise for Pride this year, besides the first-ever visit to Fresno by the legislative caucus, was that Pride headliner Dario was filming his reality television series there. Dario also kicked off his national concert tour by performing at the festival.
When the dust settled, Robinson announced at the wrap-up meeting a few days later that Pride had weathered the financial storm and that the 2012 event is a definite go.