Even though there was a fence around the Pride San Antonio Block Party in Crockett Park on Saturday it could not contain the sheer size of the celebration. The entire Main Avenue strip, from the Essence Bar on the south to the Silver Dollar Saloon at the northern end, was bursting to the seams with revelers.
Crockett Park was packed to the gills. Every parking lot in the neighborhood was full and by 7:30 p.m. folks with lawn chairs were picking out the good spots along the parade route.
It seemed to this observer that this could have been the biggest Pride Block Party and Parade since the tradition was restarted five years ago. By moving the Block Party to the park, Pride organizers managed to get more people not only into the festival but into the entire neighborhood as well.
In an interview with the San Antonio Express-News, Phillip Barcena, president of Pride San Antonio, estimated that 15,000 people would witness the Pride Parade, which began at West Dewey and ended at West Cypress.
At the corner of Dewey and North Main parade participants lined up at the starting point of the seven-block parade route. Many parade participants sought refuge from the heat and waited inside the Silver Dollar Saloon which was directly across the street from the parade lineup.
Among the marchers were two city councilmen: Diego Bernal (District 1) and Ray Lopez (District 6), more than in any previous parade. Perennial participants included State Sen. Leticia Van De Putte and State Rep. Joe Farias. There too was outgoing Director of Health Dr. Fernando Guerrera along with the new Director of Health Dr. Thomas Schlenker.
Councilman Bernal, decked out in white shirt, a black tie and pants, and black and white sneakers said he was impressed by the attendance and by the number of young people in the crowd.
District 4 Councilman Rey Saldana was slated to participate but at parade time was represented by a proxy. County Commissioner Chico Rodriguez was to have attended as well but several interns from his office said they were marching in his name.
Grand marshals for the parade were 11-year-old Arkansas activist Will Phillips and photographer and reality star Mike Ruiz.
There were large corporate contingents including JP Morgan Chase, Citi and Wells Fargo. The San Antonio Diablos flag football team marched with its new pep squad which included cheerleaders and gymnasts. A group from the Brackenridge High School Gay Straight Alliance was decked out in purple and included marchers and several young women riding in a convertible.
Local GLBT organizations were out in full force including MCC, the Bears of San Antonio, Proud to Be, River City Living Church, the Alamo City Men’s Chorale, TGRA, the Stonewall Democrats, the Gay Pool League, the Classic Chassis Car Club and the Human Rights Campaign.
In keeping with their annual tradition, the Pegasus Bar’s parade entry was a white-winged horse ridden by a young hunk wearing a skimpy costume. Newcomers to the scene were the Sisters of the Alamo who were dressed like glamorous nuns each with an embossed copper foil crown in the shape of the local landmark.
Activists from the Direct Action Network of San Antonio created a flash mob by marching at the tail end of the parade and encouraging parade spectators to join the procession. Even as the parade ended one could hear the DANSA group’s voices chanting in the distance as they marched down Main Avenue.