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Vancouver Pride shatters attendance records
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Vancouver Pride shatters attendance records

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Staff Writer

Last week, Vancouver, B.C. joined the hundreds of other cities who shattered attendance records for Gay Pride 2009. Over 600,000 people enjoyed the Vancouver Pride Parade August 2 and 110,000 enjoyed the Pride festival site and beer garden at Sunset Beach.

This year's Vancouver Pride theme was "Educate, Liberate, Celebrate." The parade route spanned 20 blocks and is Vancouver's premier celebration of culture and diversity, according to Vancouver Pride officials. This year, parade participation grew, as well; there were noticeably more floats and marchers than years past.

Each year, Vancouver names a number of Grand Marshals from their local, national and international LGBT communities. This year's "Role Model" Grand Marshal was Cleve Jones, an LGBT activist who worked with Harvey Milk, co-founded the San Francisco AIDS Foundation in 1983, conceived the idea for the AIDS Memorial Quilt, and is currently organizing a National March on Washington for LGBT Equality in October of this year. The 2009 "National Hero" Grand Marshal was Jeremy Dias, an activist for social and political quality since he was a teenager. Diaz organized a number of social justice clubs, regional LGBT groups, created Canada's first LGBTQ scholarship, and an international charity supporting a number of educational and community services and programs. Writer, artist and community leader Janine Fuller was this year's "Local Hero" Grand Marshal. Fuller gained notoriety as a leader whose fight for freedom of expression continues to inspire the LGBT community in Vancouver and beyond. Fuller works to end censorship of Gay and Lesbian literature and art. Cindy Kampmeinert was the 2009 "Posthumous Honorary Pride Hero" Grand Marshal. Pride officials say Kampmeinert, an openly Gay firefighter, was not only a hero but a Pride legend, as well. Tragically, the 41-year-old Lesbian died while on vacation in India last December.

The roughly three-hour parade and Sunset Beach festival were a hit. The sidewalks all along the parade route were packed with spectators who came out to celebrate the LGBT community, and the park and beach were at capacity with 2009 Pride revelers. The backdrop, Vancouver, is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The city is fun, safe, clean, and Gay-friendly.

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