Concluding: Sunday started relatively early, as three of us needed to get ready to be out, Loni, as she was in the parade with the River City Gems, one of a contingent of 15 or so lovely ladies in Southern Belle gowns, always a crowd favorite for the last couple years. Joni had to be out on the scene as one of the group monitors. As for myself, I figured I’d be photographing from the sidelines, or marching at the back of the Belles, in my normal attire. (A nice top and one of my new pairs of Dickies Girl college pants, which I picked up on sale at Sears a couple weeks back.)
Sunday: After a quick breakfast at Denny’s (Yet again, since it was in walking distance, and fairly quick.), Loni and I met Tilda and Cheryle as they were catching a taxi to get within a couple blocks of the parade staging area. (Not a small task when you can’t wear a hoop skirt while sitting down in the back seat of a taxi cab.) – The driver said he’d come back for us, but after 15-20 minutes, we gave up and walked eastward, once again, several blocks, with my Android phone, GPS, and Google Maps to the rescue once again.
Loni and I made it to the staging area with some time to spare, directed the last turn or so by Melissa, as we met up within a block of where we needed to be. This was the moment I had been looking forward to all weekend long, and even though I didn’t have a Southern Belle gown of my own to wear, I was going to enjoy myself no matter what. I figured I’d take a few photos of my sister Gems before they had to line up to start moving out to the crowds lined up along Market Street. I also took note of everyone else around us, nestled among the Financial District of downtown San Francisco.
I was asked to be one of the two people holding our group’s banner, meaning we’d be at the front of everyone else throughout the entire march down Market. I knew what the answer would have to be, and I was honored. After a few last-minute briefings by Dianna and Melissa, there were several minutes of waiting until we saw everyone else in front of us and next to us get ready to move into position. During this time, the float in front of us was started up, and we had music to listen to while waiting to move. (Loud, but not unbearable. I guess I’m not that old, after all. ^_^; )
After a while, everyone else started getting into position, and we were on our way around 11:30 am, give or take a few minutes. Oddly enough, I wasn’t afraid of being out in front of thousands of people. In fact, the only challenge I had was making sure my arms didn’t get tired, as I was carrying my purse with me throughout the entire march, making sure we didn’t get too close to the people in front of us, or leaving too much of a gap in front of us. (We did have to close up the gap a couple times. ^_^; ) I was more or less concerned about being even with the other lady on the other side of our banner, and of course dealing with the wind blowing down Market, as well as navigating over the gratings in the street (A couple of the girls experienced air drafting up from the MUNI and BART trains running below ground), and of course, there were the MUNI tracks on ground level – Thank goodness I was wearing sneakers!
Other than that, all there was to be concerned about was to smile and wave to the fans on either side of Market. Quite a few of my sister Gems were really into it, especially Rachelle. ^_^; Hey, this was something to cherish and enjoy! I spotted the cameras set up by KOFY TV-20 to the right of me, halfway through the route, and figured I might as well look like I’m having a good time. (And yes, I heard from one of my friends who knows about me that they saw me on TV later that night.) – I’d say, if I’m not out already, I’m just lying to myself. ^_^;
Enjoy the footage, shot by a fan and linked here – I’m the plus size gal in beige and earth tones on the left. Wow!
The parade took about an hour and a half to get through, and after the turn off on a side street (Where we were informed, with everyone else, that we were no longer a parade, and had to move out of the street to the sidewalk, and of course, break down our banner.), we made our way back towards the hotel, through the crowds, where our lovely Southern Belles were constantly stopped for photographs with bystanders. Some of the onlookers thought they were in the presence of princesses, and for all they know, they very well may have been…
The trek back to the Marriott Marquise took about as long, or a bit longer, than being in the actual parade, and most of us were ready for a rest, or an early dinner a few hours afterward. Loni and I made a stop at the room, napped for about an hour, then headed downstairs and out to The Container Store, picking up a few things to put to use later (Putting away hoops, or for me, a big garment bag to consolidate some of my wardrobe in my closet back home.), and then another journey down on foot to the main festival area. Oh, wow… To say that Sunday was the biggest day of the weekend at the Pride festival area was an understatement. The multi-block area was so packed with people it was a challenge to move around, and after just over an hour, and about five blocks, we were done as far as the festival was concerned.
During our foray into the crowds, we had a late lunch, and checked out a couple booths. (I picked up a couple bumper stickers, which I mailed off to a couple friends of mine in Phoenix.) As the sun descended, we made our way out of the festival area, back towards Market Street, and back to the room, where Loni and I kicked back for a few hours, resting and talking, and I made a couple trips out to my car to load up for the trip home.
I thanked Loni for letting me stay with her, and for a fun weekend, and made my way to the garage, starting my journey homeward around 8:30 pm. It was a very exciting weekend, one of quite a few weekends I will treasure for the rest of my life. I hope next year will be just as fun, or even better. I am hoping to have my own Southern Belle gown for next year, and hopefully be a few pounds lighter. All that walking around took a toll on my feet, and it wasn’t until Tuesday or Wednesday afterward when I started to be able to walk without aching. ^_^;
(Post Script: I took my time driving home, stopping near Pleasanton to hopefully have dinner at a restaurant, but my first choice, Buffalo Wild Wings, shut down for the night at 9 pm – Not every place is open till midnight like the BWW where I live. ^_^; – My second choice, Nation’s Giant Hamburgers, in Livermore, was open later, so I made my way there. I was riding on a wave of confidence, I didn’t even care that the place was fully lit, that there were nine other people, plus at least two working the counter – No one looked at me like I was from another planet. I just placed my order, sat at a booth to wait, and that was it — Other than a few minutes of confusion on the way out when I inadvertently buried my keys deep in my purse, that was about it – I took my order to go, and ate on the way out of town.)
I’m looking forward to next year, that’s for sure… At least I’m more comfortable with myself, and I have friends to support me. I too can hold my head up with pride.
See you next time!
— Julie Anne