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Aug 10, 2007
V 35 Issue 32

 
 
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'PRIDE IN THE CITY' MARKS THE MOST SUCCESSFUL VANCOUVER PRIDE TO DATE
'PRIDE IN THE CITY' MARKS THE MOST SUCCESSFUL VANCOUVER PRIDE TO DATE
With record attendance and a larger economic impact than ?ever before, the Pride Parade has helped Vancouver become ?an international destination.

(VANCOUVER, BC) The Vancouver Pride Society (VPS) has announced that the Vancouver Pride Parade and Festival held on Sunday, August 5th, was on overwhelming success.

"The fireworks confirmed an attendance of nearly 400,000 spectators and we were definitely knocking on their door this year," said John Boychuk, Vancouver Pride Society President, "We had nearly 80,000 more spectators at the Parade totalling 385,000 people and the Festival attendance was 80,000 which is quite a difference from the 55,000 who turned out last year. In terms of economic impact, we estimate the Pride Parade brought a staggering $66 million into Vancouver. The higher the attendance, the larger the fiscal reward and we hope to host 500,000 people next year for our 30th anniversary."

The Pride Parade boasted 140 float entries, the largest to date, as well as over 130 vendors at the Pride Festival on Sunset Beach.

But it wasn't just about dazzling floats this year. 'Pride in the City' took a political stand welcoming the first ever international grand marshall, Tomasz Baczkowski, an organizer of the first legal Warsaw Pride. Baczkowski was one of four grand marshalls including Donna Wilson, former executive director of The Centre; Heather Hendelson, co-chair of NY Pride; and Mark Tewksbury, Olympic gold-medalist and Gay human rights defender. The four were featured by the VPS in order to raise awareness about the lack of human rights for Gay citizens in the international arena.

Tewksbury spearheaded the Montreal Declaration for LGBT Human Rights at the Montreal Outgames last year and the VPS took the Declaration to parliament, garnering signatures from over 40 Canadian senators, as well as gaining support from Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan, Vancouver City Council and the Honourable Hedy Fry.

"We really wanted to ensure that we got a message across this year. Pride isn't just about celebrating the GLBT community, it's about taking on our responsibility to further the rights of other Gay citizens," stated Ken Coolen, Pride Parade Organizer, "We ask Canadians to assist not only us but Mr. Tewksbury by collecting signatures in support of the Declaration. It will be presented to the UN in 2009 and the goal is to have it recognized in the UN Charter."

The VPS made sure they did their part and had their message heard by adding a moment of silence into the Parade schedule this year. Coolen adds, "the Parade went dead silent at 1pm. It was truly a moving experience."

"This Parade is really an amazing feat," said Erin Hankinson, a young woman visiting from Ireland, "I come from Dublin and I don't think something like this would ever happen there. A lot of countries still have a long way to go."

Vancouver Pride also hosted a Festival beer garden implemented this year which helped to attract the 80,000 Pride Festival attendees. Despite the record numbers present at both the Parade and the Festival, the VPS says the event went off without a hitch. 'Pride in the City' managed to attract hundreds of thousands of Gay and Lesbian attendees, but it also saw a large increase in children & families as well as out-of-towners.

"It was wonderful to see so many families participate in such a momentous day for the Gay community," adds Boychuk. "Vancouver Pride is a success because of the people of this city and I want to thank the volunteers for devoting countless hours to make this happen, our sponsors for granting us with financial capabilities, and all those who came out and supported Pride this year. The Pride Parade & Festival has helped to make Vancouver a role model city and it could not have been achieved without the help of the community. Our 30th celebration next year will only be bigger and better."

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