The annual pride parades across the country Sunday saw increased support from both the LGBTI communities and non-LGBTI Americans following Friday's Supreme Court ruling declaring a ban same-sex marriage unconstitutional. Parades in New York City and San Francisco drew in crowds of people who simply wanted to celebrate equal marriage rights for all Americans.
New York City is home to the largest pride parade in the country. This year, organizers estimated a 22,000-person turnout and expected roughly 2 million people to watch from the sidelines. San Francisco expected a crowd of 26,000.
"This is definitely going to be a momentous Pride weekend all over the country," President of Seattle Pride Eric Bennett told the Associated Press. "It's just going to raise the celebration level of everybody who supports marriage equality."
And it was, but such large crowds do not come without their share of disturbances.
In New York, Brooklyn's Jewish Political Action Committee protested the parade from the sidelines, using demonstrators who had been paid to protest the event, the New York Times reported. The hired men, many of them from Mexico, were paid to replace the Jewish students who would normally take part in such events.
“The rabbis said that the yeshiva boys shouldn’t come out for this because of what they would see at the parade,” Heshie Freed, a member of the group, told the Times.
In an incident unrelated to the parade, a San Francisco bystander was shot after an argument among several men turned violent. The 64-year-old man was shot in the arm and is now in stable condition, the AP reported.
The disturbing events, and the New York City rain, however, did not discourage parade participants.
San Francisco parade organizers said this year’s parade was the biggest in 45 years. More than 240 groups had planned on participating in the day’s events with more than 30 floats, the AP said. Even San Francisco residents who were not part of the LGBTI community came out to see the event.
This year's parade “seems a lot bigger,” Jake Byrnes, who attended the parade with his wife and daughter, told the New York Times. “We felt it was an important event to come see.”
Crowd counts at the parades had yet to be tallied, but the parade-goers were in awe of how many people came out to celebrate pride.
“This was fabulous. I don’t know how to describe it,” Wayne Noss, a retired florist from Pennsylvania, told the Times. “This many people celebrating together, it just blows your mind.”