Here Comes the Pride

By Frank Sabatini, Jr.

(Published in the July 2010 issue)

After a rare July rain shower several years ago, a rainbow appeared briefly over Hillcrest while morning crews readied University Avenue for a mile-long parade that uses the meteorological phenomenon as its core symbol. An hour later, the dazzling spectacle of San Diego Pride began as if Mother Nature had hollered from the sky, "Take this rainbow and march with it in the name of gay equality. Oh, and save me a spot on the dance floor."

This year's 36th annual Pride celebration (July 17 and 18) mixes rainbow banners and festooned floats with political fervor aimed at securing the right for same-sex couples to marry as well as a complete repeal of the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. In Pride tradition, the energy on the streets combines party with protest, gays with straights, and gender-benders with camera-worthy outfits.

More than 160 organizations will participate in the parade, many of them in large floats, revving the crowd with up-tempo music and occasional water pistols. The best bet for securing a prime perch is to arrive at the parade route oiled in sun block well before 11 a.m.-more than 100,000 sideliners are expected.

Over the rainbow and through some woods is nearby Marston Point in Balboa Park, the site of Pride's two-day post-parade festival featuring performances by '80s rockers Devo, American Idol alum Blake Lewis and rap diva Eve.

The grounds will also give way to three other music stages, two dance floors, beer and cocktail gardens and food and merchandise vendors, all represented by a colorful flag that confirms you're not in Kansas anymore.

San Diego Pride parade: 11 a.m., July 17, travels west down University Avenue beginning at Normal Street, then continues south on Sixth Avenue to Upas Street.

Festival hours and admission: Noon to 10 p.m., July 17; and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., July 18.

Tickets purchased online by July 16 are $15 per day or $25 for a two-day pass. Gate prices are $20 per day and $30 for both days.

For ticket purchases, performance schedules and other details, visit SanDiegoPride.org.

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