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Okanagan Pride Festival organizers 'overwhelmed' by number of participants
Countless rainbow flags were held proudly Saturday as hundreds marched from Stuart Park to City Park to celebrate the final day of the Okanagan Pride Festival in Kelowna.
Wilbur Turner, president of Okanagan Pride Society and co-chair of the Pride Festival said he was "overwhelmed" by this year's numbers.
"This is totally amazing; I would say it's probably four to five times larger than last year," said Turner.
"We had a lot of media coverage and a lot of promotion. The calibre of entertainment that we're bringing in has attracted people as well. We've also been advertising across Canada—so I think it's paying off."
Saturday's Pride March and Festival in the Park concluded a week of festivities, which included Soul Food Sunday, the second annual Drag Competition and Show, and Viva Las Pride, a brand new event that saw Okanagan Pride team up with Okanagan Wine Festivals for a night of wine tasting and casino entertainment.
Approximately 70 volunteers offered their services throughout the week to help ensure the events ran smoothly.
On Saturday, Turner told the crowd at City Park the Pride community is like one large family.
"We're a family because we're connected by a struggle that has gone on for years, for equality.
"We just want to be treated like everybody else—equally."
He added the Canadian lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender community has many privileges many others internationally do not.
"We need to remember those people and stand in solidarity and love."
Calling Pride Week "a celebration of diversity," Kelowna Mayor Walter Gray read the 2013 Pride Week proclamation and told those in attendance: "There's support at City Hall for what you're doing."