More than 20,000 turn out to celebrate at 21st Capital Pride Parade





Brazil native Joseilton Fonseca arranges his balloon headdress prior to the start of the 21st annual Capital Pride Parade yesterday afternoon. The parade drew tens of thousands of spectators.


“It’s a celebration of diversity. Every occasion we have to celebrate diversity is important.”

Tens of thousands of people crowded Wellington and Elgin streets yesterday afternoon for the energetic close to this year’s Capital Pride Festival.

The 21st annual Capital Pride Parade went off without a hitch, said Capital Pride chairman Gord Boissonneault.

“It went amazing,” he said, adding more than 20,000 people from as far as France and the United States attended the event.

Although Toronto’s Church Street Pipe Band is accustomed to playing in Toronto’s larger pride parade, the Ottawa event is a good one, said pipe major Glenn Pettifer.

“Part of our mission as a band is to be involved in outreach and support other cities in their pride festivals,” he said.

Decked out in headdresses made from a rainbow of coloured balloons, Ottawa resident and former Capital Pride chairman Yvon Vaillant and his spouse, Joseilton Fonseca, were two of the more colourful walkers.

“It’s a celebration of diversity. Every occasion we have to celebrate diversity is important,” said Vaillant, who has also attended Pride events in Brazil and the U.S.

First-time parade-goer Jeff Peterson said the event was fun, but, more importantly, it brings people together.

“You don’t have to be gay or straight or anything at all to support this,” said the Ottawa resident.

It was also Ottawa resident Cynthia Powell’s first time at a Pride event.

“I’m just here to give support and to see the parade,” she said. “My daughter’s been to a couple of them and I thought it might be fun.”

Fun was the name of the game for many attendees, who consider this the one time a year they can dress outrageously in public.

“It’s gay Christmas,” said Jacqueline St. Urbain, who, along with Ericka Black, donned wings as gay angels for the event.

It was hard to top Toronto resident John Alberts’ costume.

Alberts, who wore nothing but a strategically placed translucent plastic bag and flip-flops, got a lot of stares and even a few requests to have his photo taken.

Dozens of community groups, including Planned Parenthood, Ottawa Police, Ottawa Paramedics, the Aboriginal Women’s Support Centre, Family Services Ottawa, the Carleton University Students Association, Pink Triangle Services, and the AIDS Committee of Ottawa were represented at the parade.

Ottawa resident Keith Duncanson said there seemed to be more people participating in the parade this year. “That’s a sign that Ottawa is a safe place to be proud of who you are,” he said

Following the parade, hundreds of people attended the festival plaza at city hall, where the festivities continued late into the evening.