Although it wasn’t always sunny in Philly last weekend, as this year’s Pride theme suggested, the rain wasn’t able to keep away the thousands of LGBTs and allies who converged at Penn’s Landing to show their pride.
The skies opened up Sunday around 2 p.m., near the end of the parade, but cleared within the hour, and the heaviest rain didn’t start until shortly after 6 p.m., as the festival ended.
Franny Price, executive director of Philly Pride Presents, said the estimated crowd of 8,500 wasn’t too fazed by the downpours.
“Our theme was ‘It’s Always Sunny in Gay Philadelphia,’ and I actually think that during the rain, we proved that,” Price said. “It didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits. Very few people left, and so many people just kept coming in. Everything just went on, and I think some people actually enjoyed the rain because it was so hot.”
The rain didn’t clear the crowd from the steps in front of the stage as people packed in to see performances by community groups like The Attic Youth Center and Gay and Lesbian Latino AIDS Education Initiative, as well as the day’s headlining performers.
“This year our entertainment was the best ever. People sat in the rain and watched and just went nuts over everybody,” Price said. “We had a really good lineup.”
The audience gave an enthusiastic welcome to Prince impersonator Frank Moore Jr. and “RuPaul’s Drag Race” contender Raven, as well as to comedic actress and headliner Jennifer Coolidge.
“She was wonderful on stage and after the performance she came out and spent about an hour-and-a-half letting people get their pictures taken with her. The crowd just loved her,” Price said.
Although the stage lights were blazing, the rainbow lights that were expected to be lit on the Benjamin Franklin Bridge Saturday and Sunday were dark.
Delaware River Port Authority spokesperson Danelle Hunter said the lack of lighting was due to a transformer malfunction.
“We had a power outage at the Ben Franklin Bridge that affected our bridge lighting, as well as our EZ pass toll-collection system,” Hunter said. “Power was not restored until Monday evening.”
Although the rainbow lights were supposed to be a big first for the festival, this year’s event still boasted a record number of vendors, with every spot taken, and also featured at least a dozen more contingents in the parade than last year.
During the parade, this year’s grand marshals, Robert Winn, medical director at Mazzoni Center’s Family & Community Medicine, and Dr. Marla Gold, dean of Drexel University’s School of Public Health, gave new meaning to their duties as marshals.
As the grand-marshal float was heading down Market Street at 11th, a woman crossing the parade route collapsed and began having a seizure, and Winn and Gold jumped down to tend to her.
“It was a miracle for that woman that their float just happened to be right there at the time,” Price said. “They jumped off the float with no ladders or anything and ran up to her. No one’s ever seen anything like that. I think that’s the incredible story of the day. Someone could’ve died, so I’m so thankful they were our marshals.”