View from a Float: My Pride Parade Experiences Through the Years

This year marked the 4th time I've had the honor of riding on a float in the Pride Parade.  It is still one of the most thrilling and exhilarating experiences and one that always makes me proud.  For my first two Pride rides, I had the joy of being on the Baton Show Lounge float with the fabulous female impersonators Mimi Marks, Monica Monroe, Ginger Grant, Sheri Payne, Victoria LaPaige and Sasha Colby.  Baton's owner, Jim Flint, rode along, too.  The music was pumping and the crowds were CRA-CRA over the "girls".....I was so excited to be one of them and honored to be asked since I'm neither gay nor a female impersonator but am certainly a big proponent of LGBT rights.  I have also always been a fan of the Baton and have taken every single friend and relative I've ever had there through the years.  I must've made a good impression since I was asked back the following year as well.

For the 2010 parade, it was especially over the top since the Blackhawks had won the Stanley Cup.  I was thrilled to meet player Brent Sopel and pet Lord Stanley before they scaled their own float to display the prize to the screaming fans.

2012 brought a whole new experience when I was invited to ride on the first PAWS Chicago float.  Founding board member Bonnie Spurlock spearheaded this endeavor with great success.  The volunteers, dressed in dog and cat costumes, were eager to create some excitement for this organization which is the largest no-kill animal shelter in the Midwest.  The crowds had swelled in numbers from the following year and it was sweltering.

Happily, I was invited back again this year to ride on this fabulous float along with the one-and-only Miss Foozie.   Her legion of fans, her "pineapples",  are crazy about her and with good reason.  She is a beloved icon and a positive force in the community.

For this year's 44th event, more than 1 million people lined the route.  And even though the same-sex marriage issue, which has sadly not passed YET in Illinois, was a theme of the day it did nothing to dampen the spirits of the supporters who still had the Supreme Court victory to celebrate.

More than 200 floats streamed down the route which was supposed to kick-off at noon (we didn't move until 2 pm) under sunny skies and mild temps.  And even though our float was number 184, the enthusiasm never diminished throughout the entire parade that ended at 4 pm.

Here are some of my favorite pics from past Pride Parades including this year's.  I hope you enjoy them and I hope the LGBT community continues to see their dreams realized....:-)  (Photos by Mila Samokhina, Darkroom Demons and Steve Starr).

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