It was overcast Sunday morning at the start of the 39th annual Long Beach Pride Parade, but the crowds didn’t seem to care. The first in-person parade since 2019 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the celebration drew some of the largest crowds in memory with thousands of people lining Ocean Boulevard.
This year’s parade’s theme was “Many voices, one spirit,” and organizers billed it as the third-largest Pride parade in California.
Tom Manderfeld, a Long Beach resident who said he’s attended at least 20 Pride Parades, thought everyone seemed more enthusiastic than in past years.
“It’s probably because people couldn’t be here for the last few years,” Manderfeld said.
Mike Kohel, another Long Beach resident who said he has attended many Pride Parades in the past, said he was heartened to see more families out this year.
There were many first-time attendees as well, like Laseni Williams, who lived just off the parade route and showed up to sell a few Pride T-shirts and fly a drone over the crowd.
Renee Trepagnier, who also said it was her first time attending the Long Beach Pride Parade, said she was an ally and wanted to show her support.
As in years past, the parade began at the intersection of Ocean Boulevard and Lindero Avenue and then proceeded west to Alamitos Avenue.
A wide variety of agencies and corporations participated in the parade, including the Long Beach Fire Department, the Long Beach Police Department, the Port of Long Beach, Wal-Mart, and Virgin Orbit, among others.
Mayor Robert Garcia participated in the parade as well, riding down Ocean Boulevard on a bicycle while wearing a “Keep Abortion Legal” T-shirt.
This year’s parade grand marshal was to be Amy Schneider, the most successful woman ever to compete on the Jeopardy! game show, and the only openly transgender contestant ever to qualify for the show’s Tournament of Champions, but she canceled shortly before the parade due to a family emergency, according to a July 8 statement from Long Beach Pride.
“We send our best wishes to Amy and her family at this trying time and hope that she will be able to join us in person at next year’s event,” said Elsa Martinez, president of Long Beach Pride.