The annual Pride Portland parade, this year themed “Love is Love,” was a contrast to the parades and public gatherings along Congress Street since the presidential inauguration.
As if by unspoken agreement, there were almost no overtly political signs for or against President Trump in sight. Instead, the thousands of people who descended on the Portland peninsula’s main thoroughfare on Saturday waved banners and posters with messages of peace and welcome.
Some of those watching the hourlong procession move up from Monument Square and then on to Deering Oaks said they found the lack of polemics and divisive debate refreshing.
“It has to do with everything about love. There is no room for him here today,” said Liz Stross of Lewiston, referring to the president.
Portland police Lt. Bob Doherty said the parade moved smoothly through the city, with no unusual incidents. He estimated the number of spectators and participants in the thousands.
Pride Portland represents Maine’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. The parade has been a June fixture for more than 40 years. Pride Portland bills its parade as the largest pride parade in northern New England.
Signs spotted among in the crowd included “My Pronouns Are Not Up For Debate,” “Celebrate Diversity” and “We Love Our Neighbors.” Groups marching in the parade included a cross section of Maine: public schools, colleges, church groups, health care businesses and banks. Wild Burrito’s sprawling Wizard of Oz-themed float drew some of the parade’s loudest cheers, along with the perennial favorites Dykes on Bikes motorcycle convoy. Applause also went up for the Piper Shores retirement community contingent.
Some regulars among the spectators said the parade seemed larger than in years past.
“I think everyone feels more joyful, ” said Lindsey Cotter-Hayes of Palermo who was with a group of friends helping to carry the giant pride banners that bring up the rear of the procession.
Irial Foy, 19, of Owls Head marched with Portland Outright, a group that supports lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender queer, questioning and other youth.
“We are trying to focus on the positives,” Foy said.
Three members of the Martin’s Point Health Care group said they were marching to spread harmony.
“Make love, not war,” said Gladys Kane of Portland.
“We want to spread the harmony,” said Megan Marsh of Saco.
“Peace, love and harmony. That’s what this is all about,” said Sandy Woodruff of Saco.
The parade was followed by a festival at Deering Oaks.
Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at: