Full disclosure: I hate parades. I am the Ebenezer Scrooge of parades. I was in marching band in both high school and college. Holiday parades, parade practice, parade competitions, even a new highway opening… and it didn’t end there. As an adult, I went in to radio and one of my duties was to drive the station van in – you guessed it – parades. As a result, the magic was always lost on me. WHY walk for 3 miles to wave at people to celebrate something I don’t care about, like lights. I had marched 4 years in a row in a parade about lights. Not Hanukah, not Diwali, just people walking down the street at night with lights. My disdain for all things parade had stuck with me for decades, until I stumbled upon Pride Parade MKE.
Here I was, walking out of my hotel, trying to get some steps in. Then I here music. Lots of music. There, on the back of a float, is a DJ and a live dance party. There people throwing beads, candy, and having a great time. I’m thinking, That’s pretty cool. Little did I know, people get down in Milwaukee.
It’s a Party, Y’all
This was the first of many party floats. There were more DJs in this parade than a weekend EDM festival, and each one was a microcosm of joy and celebration. So much joy. Just uninhibited, free, glowing joy. It was contagious. I found myself smiling, and at one point, even waiving back to the people in the parade. *shudder*
There was a ton a creativity there. My favorite one was themed after “The Lion King.” They were playing the circle of life, and their was a giant papier-mâché rock on the back of a pickup. Pride rock. It took me a minute to get there, but I caught up.
It’s a Family Affair
Another beautiful thing about this parade was the families. People had their kids out, and would even have them run out to take pictures with some of the participants. One little girl had to have her photo with the Disney princesses, and they were very obliging. There even families in the parade. Ally groups, kids on floats, kids in busses, politicians and their families. As much as I hate parades, if you don’t smile and waive when a marching kid waives at you, you can go to hell.
We Was Outchere
Growing up in the bay area many moons ago, I used to catch the SF Pride Parade on TV, and to be so colorful, it seemed very… monochromatic. At this parade, the cousins showed up, and showed out. Both in the parade, and on the sidewalks, melanin was everywhere. We were shining, y’all! I was so proud to see people rocking Juneteenth shirts with red, black and green balloons, Black Lives Matter Shirts on allies, and even black politicians.
What I Learned
I finally found a parade I would actually want to be a part of. I am proud to be an ally, and proud of my out and proud sibling who lives their truth on the daily. I also learned that there are humans out there that will walk literal miles in stiletto boots to celebrate the cause.
What stuck with me the most? Love. Love is worth celebrating. Love is not illegal.