ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The annual pride parade and festival returned to Rochester. The parade started around East Avenue and Alexander Street before finishing at Cobbs Hill Park, where the second part of the celebration began.

This year marks the 50th annual Pride Event put on in Rochester and it’s not only special for people to be back out here after a two-year hiatus, but it also makes all the older attendees proud to see how far the movement for equality has come. 

“My first gay pride event was in 1995 and it was definitely much smaller,” said Sam Brett, co-chair of Broadway Collective. “I was a student at RIT and we were meeting in basements for the student groups and it’s just good to see now that we’re not stuck in basements or hiding in the shadows.”

Susana Speed, co-chair of the ROC Pride Collective acknowledged that society’s full acceptance of the LGBTQ community still has a long way to go, but she hopes events like these build on their message of love and unity.

“Showing people we’re here and have families,” Speed said. “We are your loved ones, brothers and sisters, normalizing LGBTQ identity, making sure we’re showing up for our brothers and sisters who are non-binary, and trans folks.”

Speed also said that to assure safety for the event, organizers coordinated closely with the Rochester Police Department and hired their own undercover security firms to patrol the park. 

“We hired private security firms so that we made sure there were folks in plain clothes around just in case anything happens. We also have on the back of everyone’s badges security plans.,” Speed added.

So far, throughout the event, none of the organizers reported any safety issues.