POUGHKEEPSIE – The PK Pride Parade drew a large crowd of marchers and supporters for Saturday’s event in Poughkeepsie. Grand Marshall Lea DeLaria was escorted by motorcycles and followed by hundreds of marchers on the route from Market Street down Main Street, ending at Waryas Park on the shore of the Hudson River.
The parade was hastily organized by the Dutchess County Pride Center after pandemic protocols were relaxed recently. Celebrating diversity and memorializing the Stonewall Riots of 1969 that marked the start of the gay liberation movement, the parade was attended by several local leaders.
Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro greeted DeLaria and many marchers before the start of the parade. “We are founded on a simple yet profound belief: it is self-evident all are created equal. And, we have learned these last 17 months how precious life, moments, and the love we share are. We celebrate and support that today and always,” Molinaro said.
Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison attended to show his support for the LGBTQ community and welcomed attendees to the city he leads. “We are a city of diversity and acceptance. I am honored to be a part of it and lucky to live here,” he remarked prior to the start of the event.
Supporters of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) community lined Main Street as the procession traveled to the park, cheering the marchers. “This is a tremendous thing,” said Mark Fallin, of Poughkeepsie. “I have gay friends and I am proud to show my support for the LGBTQ community. There is no room for hate in Poughkeepsie or anywhere else.”
DeLaria, an award-winning comedian and actress, is considered to be the first openly gay comic to appear on national television. The performer greeted everyone that approached her with a big smile and was posing for pictures with everyone that asked. “My daughter and I have watched Orange Is The New Black and enjoy her character,” said Lynn Miele-Versaci. “We really enjoyed meeting her and sharing a few laughs. She’s really cool.”