Talk about a proud day for Brooklynites!
Thousands from the borough and beyond descended on Park Slope on Saturday to celebrate Kings County’s LGBTQ community at events culminating in an absolutely fabulous parade along Fifth Avenue — far superior to a certain other march staged across the East River, according to one attendee.
“I love this one the best,” Park Sloper Judy Roy said of the annual Brooklyn Pride Parade. “It’s not as crazy as in Manhattan.”
This year’s evening march featured four floats, 60 participating organizations, and roughly 800 people, all of whom proudly stepped behind the bike-riding dykes of the Siren Women’s Motorcycle Club, who led the rainbow-colored cavalcade as it proceeded along Fifth Avenue from Sterling Place to Ninth Street before a joyous crowd that didn’t disperse until after 9 p.m.
“The parade went for almost an hour and a half,” said Jeanne Scarito, who also lives in Park Slope. “It was never like that.”
The 22nd-annual festivities kicked off earlier that day in Prospect Park, with a 5k run that awarded individual prizes to male, female, and transgender athletes, according to an organizer, who said no other race in the city hands out awards based on diverse gender identities. Some competitors wore rainbow tutus for the occasion
“We’re probably the most colorful 5k as well,” said Brooklyn Pride co-chair Mickey Heller.
Following the race, proud revelers moved from the park to the pavement on Fifth Avenue, where representatives from a wide array of city agencies, health care providers, and community groups set up booths for a street fair between First and Ninth Streets that kicked off at 11 a.m.
Gay City News was among those exhibiting — and the newspaper was treated to a customized shout-out from the acrobats from Cheer New York.
Festival-goers strolled the fair collecting freebies and receiving health screenings until 5 p.m., when vendors closed up shop to prepare for the evening parade beginning at 7:30 p.m. — leaving time for celebrants to patronize Fifth Avenue’s many stores, restaurants, and bars during what’s become one of the most profitable days of the year for local mom-and-pop shops, according to a local business booster.
“This event drives a lot of business,” said Mark Caserta, the head of the Park Slope Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District. “After the fair breaks up, all the people need somewhere to go for two hours, and everything fills up really quickly.”
And the 54-year-old Scarito — who came out as a lesbian when she was 16 — said watching events like Brooklyn Pride grow to become the festival it is today has given her plenty to be proud about.
“We paved the way,” she said. “You couldn’t walk around the neighborhood, buy a magazine, tell your employer. Now, to watch these kids, I love it.”