When Boston’s Pride Parade kicks off this weekend, expect it to be bigger, more diverse and just as important as it’s always been for the region’s LGBT community.

Organizers are expecting a record-breaking parade this year, with more marchers, more floats, more sponsors, a projected 500,000 spectators, and, to cap it all off, the most massive rainbow-colored pride flag the city has ever seen.

“It’s almost as wide as Boylston Street,” said Martha Plaza, parade chair. “It’s probably a good 80 feet long. It’s huge.”

Pride members stitched all of the multicolored lightweight fabric by hand.

“It’s been a labor of love,” Plaza said.

Interest in joining the parade has swelled over the years, she said. And this year more small- and mid-size companies are marching, from upstart tech companies to dental offices. A full 40 percent of groups registered for the 2016 parade are marching for the first time.

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“It’s nice to see the rise in the diversity of the types of companies that we’re able to accommodate,” Plaza said. “More and more organizations are using the parade to demonstrate their support and the diversity of their workforce, and to show they stand beside their employees.”

A total of 258 groups will be taking part in this year’s march, with 28 floats and 80 vehicles — among them, for the first time ever, a “quite massive” party bus from Budweiser, Plaza said.

The festivities start at noon. Marchers will steo off at Boylston and Clarendon streets in the Back Bay, make their way down to Tremont Street, loop back up to Boylston, then march past Boston Common up to Government Center.

Expect epic levels of congestion around the parade route. As always, do yourself a favor and take the T.

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The parade is not the only LGBT bash Pride is putting on this year, of course. Check their website, flip through the Pride Guide (or yesterday’s issue of the Metro) for a lowdown on all the ways to show your pride and support this weekend. And don’t miss the LGBT-friendly events Pride puts on all year long.

What means the most to Plaza, she said, is how Pride and the parade have been there for LGBT people who have just recently “come out of the closet,” or announced their identity to the world.

“I’m still amazed when I hold my training sessions the number of people that are marching for the very first time in the Pride Parade,” she said. “There’s still a lot of fear and hesitation that resides in the community and the events of Pride Week provides that supportive environment to help folks find the strength to take that first step.”