ORLANDO, Fla. — More than 150,000 people gathered in downtown Orlando Saturday for the 12th annual Come Out with Pride festival, the first since the Pulse nightclub massacre five months ago.
The event, which celebrates the LGBTQ+ community, began at noon and featured an afternoon parade through Thornton Park.
Pulse employees and relatives of the slain served as parade marshals. And the procession also honored police officers, firefighters, paramedics and hospital workers who responded to the shooting.
For many, the event was another step in the healing process for a community that’s still reeling from the terror attack.
“I'm sure, for me, there will be some tears, because it was here,” Melissa Cortez said.
It was Nancy Torres’ first time attending the event. Torres sold Pulse T-shirts at the festival to help support her son, who worked at the club.
“They're good kids,” she said. “They just have fun. They love each other. It was always a nice place to go.”
Torres’ son and his former co-workers were among those honored on one of the parade's first floats.
“The Pulse attack was very emotional,” said Leo, who didn’t provide his last name. “It's kind of like a closure for it, but it will still be a reminder for us for the rest of our lives."
In the evening, a tribute was held at Lake Eola Park during which the names of the victims in the attack were read aloud, followed by a moment of silence and a fireworks display.
The festival was originally scheduled for October but had to be postponed because of Hurricane Matthew.
Cox Media Group