Vancouver Pride 2007 most successful to date

August 13, 2007

VANCOUVER — According to the Vancouver Pride Society (VPS), last weekend’s Vancouver Pride Parade and Festival was the most successful to date.

"We had nearly 80,000 more spectators at the parade, totaling 385,000 people, and the festival attendance was 80,000, which is quite a difference from the 55,000 who turned out last year," John Boychuk, president of the Vancouver Pride Society, said in a release. "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.

This year’s parade wasn't just about dazzling floats, however. "Pride in the City" took a political stand by 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," said Ken Coolen, organizer of the Pride Parade. "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. "The parade went dead silent at 1 p.m.," Coolen said. "It was truly a moving experience."

Despite the record numbers present at both the parade and the festival, the VPS said 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 and 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," Boychuk said. "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." – Issued by Gay Link Content

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