WEST HOLLYWOOD — The 2018 L.A. Pride Parade returned to its customary format of celebrating the LGBT community June 10 after a one-year switch to what was dubbed a “Resist March” to the Trump Administration.
A crowd estimated at about 150,000 was on hand for the annual parade and the final day of the Pride Festival.
An assortment of floats conveyed the theme of the festival #JUSTBE, according to Shayne Thomas, marketing and communications lead and a board member of Christopher Street West, the nonprofit organization that produces the festival and parade.
“#JUSTBE is a deeply personal invitation for self-expression that, we hope, will empower members of the LGBT community — as well as our very important straight allies — to embrace, embody and express what pride truly means to them in the rawest, most authentic ways possible,” Thomas said.
Parade entries featured a multi-color “Lifesaver” bus from the AIDS Healthcare Foundation intended to promote condom use to prevent HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and to curb other sexually transmitted diseases.
The parade also featured one of the first public appearances of the next Los Angeles police chief. Michel Moore rode with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti in the parade.
The grand marshal was Michaela Ivri Mendelsohn, a transgender activist and CEO of Pollo West Group, one of the largest franchises for the El Pollo Loco restaurant chain.
The parade had its traditional moment of silence at noon “to remember those who are no longer with us, or cannot be here today, to celebrate those who fought for pride and the freedoms we now enjoy and to think of those who cannot celebrate pride and remain oppressed,” organizers said in a joint statement.
The parade was first held in 1970 in Hollywood, where it stayed until 1979, when it moved to West Hollywood.
The parade went smoothly, unlike the L.A. Pride Festival the previous evening, which reached capacity more than three hours before it was originally scheduled to end, causing many people who had purchased advance tickets to be turned away.
Pride festival organizers issued an apology to those who were turned away.
“We are sorry and want to apologize to everyone who could not get in after the venue hit capacity,” said a statement posted to LA Pride’s Twitter account.
West Hollywood officials promised more information would be forthcoming for people seeking refunds.
The June 10 crowd gathered for first day of the festival with popular singer-songwriter Kehlani as the headliner — capping a day that included live entertainment, art exhibits, games and giveaways — when deputies with the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station announced “the Pride festival is at capacity and no others will be admitted.”
They worked to clear the crowd and the festival ended more than two hours earlier than originally planned.
Earlier in the day, Pride organizers had announced the event’s first sell-out crowd in its 40-year history. But the overflow gathering was considered a fire hazard and deputies started asking people to leave shortly after 9 p.m. amid cries of “let us in,” as shown in multiple videos posted to social media.
The hashtag #LAPride was the No. 1 topic on Twitter for hours afterward with festivalgoers expressing disappointment and venting about the tickets being oversold.
After her performance, headliner Kehlani commiserated with those who were unable to see the show.
“As fun as that was, my heart goes out to all the folks who drove, flew, trained and bused here and weren’t allowed in,” she posted on Twitter.
“Throughout all the mishaps, tonight we broke a record. Made history. LA Pride committee said they’ve never seen ticket sales like this. Thank you again, really.”
Some scuffles and unruliness were noted, but no arrests were reported.
The city of West Hollywood released a statement on Twitter June 11 that read, in part: “The city … is grateful to the first responders at L.A. County Fire and L.A. County Sheriffs for dispersing the large crowd without major incident. This is the first time in the event’s decades-long history that it has been closed due to crowds. Following Pride weekend, the city of West Hollywood will take steps to meet with Christopher Street West, the event organizer, to determine what occurred and to plan for future Pride celebrations.”