Four months before their annual Pride festival and parade take place in Palm Springs, Coachella Valley residents are doing their part to promote marriage equality and celebrate LGBT culture around the world.
Earlier this month, Palm Springs Pride President Ron deHarte led a local contingent before an international audience in the World Pride Parade in London, England.
“Participating in other Pride parades provides an opportunity to raise awareness for equal rights, show support to other Pride organizatoins and showcase Palm Springs as a welcoming, LGBT friendly destination,” deHarte says in a press release.
Spectators reacted with enthusiasm and surprise to see the desert city represented, deHarte says. The parade entry of inflated palm trees and a brightly colored banner followed New York City’s entry, the only other U.S. city that participated.
Local Pride officials made even more of a splash Saturday during the San Diego LGBT Pride Parade. In addition to the Palm Springs Pride banner, the entry spotlighted four couples.
Participants led two towering balloon couples along the route. They resembled wedding-cake toppers, with the male couple dressed in black suits and the female couple attired in traditional white dresses. The balloons were about 20 feet tall.
Both parade contingents were organized through a partnership between Greater Palm Springs Pride and the Palm Springs Bureau of Tourism.
The balloons were accompanied by Lilia Marodi who also wore a wedding dress and marched with Becky Marodi, the woman she hopes to marry someday.
Showing their support for same-sex marriage, Cathedral City Councilman Sam Toles and husband Matthew Toles rode in a convertible as a part of the festivities.
The Marodis’ and Toles’ presence “helped put real people in front of the freedom to marry issue,” deHarte says.