Thousands turn out for weekend gay pride events nationwide

Thousands turn out for weekend gay pride events nationwide

DENVER (AP) — People in wheelchairs, walking on stilts and riding rainbow-decorated motorcycles turned out for gay pride events over the weekend, including participants in a Denver parade who carried posters of the names or faces of the victims who died in last weekend’s attack on a nightclub in Florida.

About 2,000 people took part in Denver’s PrideFest parade through town to Civic Center Park on Sunday as hundreds lined sidewalks. Crowds estimated at several hundred thousand attended a two-day festival in front of Denver’s city hall.

Security was tight at events over the weekend. In Denver, authorities set up security fences, bag checks, and police rode Segway scooters and walked with bomb-sniffing dogs.

Organizer Debra Pollock said in past years, the festival area was fenced in overnight, and when parade-goers arrived, they threw open the fences and people swarmed in for dancing and other performances.

“This year, they have to go through security,” Pollock said.

New Orleans authorities held a news conference Thursday to say extra officers and state troopers would be on duty.

Crystal Luna of Tampa, Florida, and Joelasa Oquendo, of Odessa, Texas, a married couple in the Navy, said they’d been a bit worried before the New Orleans event, but were reassured by seeing uniformed police officers.

In Portland, Oregon, on-site security was up 25 percent from previous years.

No serious problems were reported at gay pride events across the country, but the mood for many people was somber. A small number of anti-gay protesters also showed up.

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