SAN DIEGO -- The 45th annual San Diego Pride celebration kicked off Saturday with a 5K run and a parade that took over the streets of Hillcrest with rainbows, love and pride.
San Diego's parade is the sixth largest Pride event in the nation. According to parade organizers, it attracts more than 250,000 people each year.
“It’s crazy, it’s really crazy! This is a place where people can be themselves, where their souls can shine and where we’re all just here to have fun,” Pride volunteer Leah Russell said.
This year’s theme, “A Legacy of Liberation,” is a nod to the Stonewall riots that launched today’s LGBTQ civil rights movement 50 years ago.
“It’s great to be able to be out, be gay, be who you are and not have to worry about people judging you. It’s very important,” parade attendee Mark Martinez said.
According to Martinez, the country has made a lot of progress since he was a kid when it comes to gay rights. “Couldn’t walk around with the beads and all that -- you’d get ridiculed, people would yell hate messages to you," Martinez said. “It was sad, very sad. The children of today are much more fortunate than we were.”
The two-day festival hosts several events and more than 100 musical acts on four stages, including singer/songwriter Melissa Etheridge as the event headliner.
The schedule and a map of the festival layout can be found at sdpride.org. Tickets are available for purchase online and at the festival entrance.