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Barrie Pride celebration an 'overwhelming' experience

Hundreds of people lined the streets in downtown Barrie Saturday afternoon to celebrate Pride

Hundreds of people lined the streets in downtown Barrie Saturday afternoon to celebrate Pride.

The Barrie Pride Parade and Festival helped to officially kick off Pride Month and saw the downtown core awash in love and rainbows for the city’s first Pride parade in two years.

Ashley Brooker and her daughter, Ellie, walked in today’s parade and told BarrieToday they both had a lot of fun.

“It was nice seeing all the people on the sidelines waving to us. It’s been two years without it, so it’s nice to see all the people who have come out to support,” said Brooker. “I am pansexual and just want to show my daughter that you can be anything in the world.”

Kaitlyn Hamilton and Alex Cameron were excited to be back and taking part in Barrie Pride festivities, having attended in previous years.

“We are all here together to celebrate diversity. It was great. I didn’t expect this many people,” said Hamilton.

“It is my birthday and I wanted to celebrate my birthday in the best place I could be, and this is it,” added Cameron. “I am proud to be here and I am happy there was this much of a turn out because I didn’t expect this much of a turnout.”

Catherine Bakker brought her sons, Rees and Cohen, to the event. As an educator, she said, it’s important to her to show love and support for every person.

“My uncle is gay and we want to support him and who he loves,” said Cohen Bakker-Tremblett, 10.

“I love to come out and celebrate with them and show them that they are loved, because they should be. Everyone should love everyone,” Bakker said. “I find having my brother who is gay and watching him grow up, nobody ever deserves to feel like they are left out.”

Local drag queen Queenie ”the Brat” ZaDhal said she was overwhelmed with how many people attended the event.

“Four years ago, I was here as a little baby drag queen. … Seeing the community come together again is the most special part of this. How many little kids there are, and even people with dogs, it’s so great. I love it so much,” she said. “For the turnout to be so large and for people to be so supportive... it’s an overwhelming amount of happiness I feel.”

Following the parade, which made its way down Mulcaster Street, across the rainbow crosswalk on Simcoe Street, and up Bayfield and Clapperton streets, was the Barrie Pride festival, which featured local vendors and non-profit organizations at Meridian Place.

Despite an attempt to disrupt the event by two men preaching with a microphone and an amp, event-goers came together and continued to share their message of love and inclusivity by chanting, “Love is louder,” which eventually prompted the two men to pack up and leave.

The evening was set to include entertainment beginning at 5 p.m. on the Meridian Place stage, followed by fireworks over Kempenfelt Bay.