First time participants joining this year's Fresno Rainbow Pride Parade

Vince Ybarra Image
Saturday, June 1, 2024
First time participants join the Fresno Rainbow Pride Parade
34 years ago, the first Fresno Rainbow Pride Parade was a much smaller event.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- 34 years ago, the first Fresno Rainbow Pride Parade was a much smaller event.

"Several local entertainers, drag queens, LGBTQ people who borrowed shopping carts and laundry baskets from local establishments, and they just pushed each other down Olive Avenue," said Fresno Rainbow Pride's Bryan Cauwels.

Video from the ABC30 archives shows the Fresno parade in 1992.

Cauwels said the KKK showed up during the first two years of the parade.

"The second year they showed up, the parade had grown a little bit. It was a little bigger, there were more people here, and they kind of got intimated after that and ended up leaving and didn't come back after that," said Cauwels.

This year, 114 sponsors have made the parade and festival possible.

Many may be surprised to see religious groups on the list, including St. James Episcopal Church.

"I am so excited to go out in the parade, but I am even more excited to be at the festival and see everyone," said Priest Jessica Harmon from the church.

The church has participated in the parade and festival for the last few years.

Harmon said St. James has open LGBTQ+ clergy and members of its congregation. She hopes that by participating in the parade, people in the community will receive one important message.

"God loves you. God welcomes you and affirms you. And we at St. James will show that love of God, that Jesus loves you," said Harmon.

This year, Fresno's Mayor will be participating in the day's festivities for the first time ever.

"To know that we have grown as a community to that level. And to know that we're a community that's inclusive and not only of queer people but of our allies. The fact that the mayor is willing to march with us," said Fresno City LGBTQ+ liaison, Robin McGeHee.

Fresno Police Chief Paco Balderrama said the department has always secured the event, but this is the first time the department will be driving and walking down Olive Avenue as a participant.

"My job is to look out for my community. My job is to look out for my police officers. And participating in this just shows that we are including everybody in the city," said Balderrama.

The Fresno Rainbow Pride parade will begin at 10 am Saturday in the Tower District. The festival will begin at 11 am and run until 6 pm.

For news updates, follow Vince Ybarra on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.