Pride Parade draws big crowds under sunny skies

Toronto's 32nd annual Pride Parade drew large crowds to downtown streets on Sunday, as revelers celebrated under sunny skies and sizzling 30 C heat.
Toronto's 32nd annual Pride Parade began under sunny skies on Sunday afternoon. (CBC)

Toronto's 32nd annual Pride Parade drew large crowds to downtown streets on Sunday afternoon, as revelers celebrated under sunny skies and sizzling 30 C heat.

The parade kicked off at 2 p.m. ET as dozens of floats and participating groups started their journey from the intersection of Church and Bloor streets.

Participants then headed west along Bloor Street before turning south on Yonge Street, going all the way down to Gerrard Street, where the parade turned east again and hit its final stretch, ending back at Church Street.

Spectators wave and throw confetti during the Pride Parade below them in Toronto on Sunday. (Michelle Siu/Canadian Press)

The CBC's Ivy Cuervo said the streets were packed with people who were eager to take in a Pride celebration that is now one of the biggest events of its kind in the world.

"This parade here for many people is a very important one," Cuervo said.

"It's about inclusion, it's about community and, also, it's about love."

A couple from New York declared their love in front of tens of thousands of strangers, when they were married on board one of the floats moving along the parade route.

Breken Elwood, left, and Carter Etherington won the chance to get married on a float that is moving along Toronto's Pride Parade route on Sunday afternoon. (CBC)

The couple, Carter Etherington and Breken Elwood, won a Tourism Toronto contest that paid for their trip to the city, put them up in the Windsor Arms Hotel and arranged for them to get married and ride a specially designed float during the parade.

Ahead of the parade, Elwood told CBC News that the couple was ready for the big day.

"We did go and get matching suits and shirts and ties and Carter was nice enough to let me pick everything, and in a nutshell, tell him what we would be wearing on our wedding day," Elwood said.

"So we'll basically look like two giant Ken dolls."

The theme for this year’s parade was "Celebrate and Demonstrate," and like in years past, the event drew veteran participants and first-timers alike as well as Torontonians, tourists and out-of-towners.

Crowds gather along Yonge Street, awaiting the arrival of the first Pride Parade floats and participants on Sunday afternoon. (CBC)

For 17-year-old Cassidy Shipman of London, Ont., it was her first time making the trip to Toronto for the Pride Parade.

"I enjoy being here with all the positive people," Shipman told The Canadian Press.

"I'm gay and wanted to show my support. It's just really fun."

Organizers say about 158 groups were taking part in Sunday’s parade, including Queers Against Israeli Apartheid, which has been a focus of controversy and cancelled plans to march in last year’s event.

The parade is the final event marking 10 days of Pride in the city.

With files from The Canadian Press