PRIDE PARADE & FESTIVAL IN ASBURY PARK: “EPICENTER OF DIVERSITY AND ACCEPTANCE”
Rainbows decorated the city and sky Sunday at the 23rd Annual Jersey Pride Parade and Festival in Asbury Park.
“For more than half a century Asbury Park has been the state’s epicenter of change, diversity and acceptance and this parade has always been a big part of that,” said Asbury Park Councilman John Loffredo. “While the times and priorities for the gay community have changed, our city remains the leader in welcoming all. It is something everyone here can be proud of and celebrate.”
More than 20,000 attended the pride festivities Sunday afternoon – a record according to festival organizer Laura Pople. [more below]
“It is great to see people who are not gay here with their friends and people they just met,” said John Fay, 25, of Beacon, NY. “I don’t know if the grandmothers and uncles and sisters of GLBT people know how much it means to us to see them here, cheering and waving flags.”
The parade, which 23 years ago consisted of three floats and took minutes to move through town, now takes 45 minutes to travel from Cookman Avenue, north on Grand Avenue and east on Sunset Avenue to Bradley Park. For the past four years, the parade has been led by a group of local scooter and vintage motorcycle enthusiasts.
“I ride my bike (in the parade) as a straight ally for my family’s gay friends who finally, no longer are being treated as second-class citizens,” said Dan Sciannameo, Asbury Park resident with his beautiful wife and two daughters. “And I ride in memory of my Uncle Billy, who was very kind to me my whole life and who died as he lived – blond and beautiful.”
Floats in the parade this year ranged from Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays to the Tides Hotel to Fortune 500 companies including Novartis and Bank of America. Also marching to the cheers of spectators was a local group celebrating same sex marriage.
“This is the first year we can marry in New Jersey,” said Ellen DeSarno of Bradley Beach, walking with her partner of 28 years whom she plans to marry later this year. “We are celebrating love here today. It is a beautiful day.”