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Portland Pride Parade brings thousands to celebrate downtown

The Portland Pride Parade is back after a two-year pandemic hiatus and attendees said it's been missed in the community.

PORTLAND, Maine — After a two-year COVID-19 hiatus, the Portland Pride Parade drew thousands of Mainers to the streets of downtown Saturday.

For many, the parade was their first Pride event.

Aaliya Pelatir told NEWS CENTER Maine she came out last year and wanted to express it at this year's Pride parade.

"Love is love, like who you like, and if you want to come out to someone, just do it. If you need some time, don't worry," Pelatir said.

Others who have been to a few Pride events in Portland said the parade was deeply missed.

"I just think, especially after the last couple of years where we haven't had it, this is a celebration and recognition of generations of people fighting for equality and a right to exist to be who they are. And now that this is the first year in a couple years we get to have this again, it's just a celebration of our existence and just being able to validate one another," Andrew Lazaro, who rode at the front of the parade, said.

Ryan Poly, who rode in the front with Lazaro, said having a group event where LGBTQ+ people can be together is powerful.

"To have so many people come out and be able to be who they are and express who they are and not worry," Poly added. "Today is a day of celebration, and tomorrow we fight again."

Azzy Langdon said Pride events serve as safe spaces for LGBTQ+ people.

"I think what makes Portland Pride special are the vendors. A lot of queer people who produce things for the community have a chance to get their name out there, and it's just very inviting," Langdon said. "Anyone who wants to be in the parade can be in it, and it's just such a diverse place, especially for Maine. It's really nice."

The parade started at 1 p.m. Saturday and ended in Deering Oaks Park with food trucks and live music.

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