ST. PETERSBURG -- The streets of St. Petersburg were alive Saturday night with the sights and sounds of the 13th-annual Pride Parade.
Thousands crowded along Central Avenue to watch floats, marching bands and dancers during a historic time.
“My mom and the lady that I already call stepmom can finally get married, and no matter what state they go to, it will be considered as marriage,” said paradegoer Kiera Dickey.
The event comes just one day after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling to make gay marriage a right nationwide.
“It’s our day in the sun, really,“ said Carol Walther, who said she marched in the first Pride parade in the city. This time, she watched from the sidelines and reflected on how things have changed.
“People have changed so much. Back in the 1980s when we were out, it was a lot different then. You kind of hid, ‘I’m gay.’ It was a scary thing. But the young people today are totally different. Very different. And it’s a good thing,” said Walther.
Others shared in the excitement of change.
“It’s something where you’ve fought for so long to have the same rights as everybody else, and you’ve got it, so it’s a big, big deal,” said paradegoer Matt Cassem.
A big deal, and a big turnout for the festival that continues Sunday.
Wedding during St. Pete Pride takes on extra meaning
Couple Kacey Frierson and Chwanda Nixon said it’s been a long road to get to this point. Their wedding ceremony in a St. Petersburg park Saturday afternoon was actually the pair’s 15th wedding ceremony in as many states.
However, it was the first one since a Supreme Court ruling made gay marriage a right nationwide.
The two have been traveling the country since 2012 to bring attention to the issue most close to their hearts.
"It just wasn't equal so it was frustrating not being able to be like everybody else," said Chwanda.
They were already on their way to St. Pete for the ceremony from their home in Georgia when they heard the news.
"We were actually on our way to Wal-Mart to get some stuff to come here. I started crying," said Kacey.
Saturday they said their vows once again; the same words, but different.
"It's more special today because it's recognizable no matter what. After yesterday no matter what, we're recognized. "
The two still plan to finish their goal of traveling to every state for a ceremony, but they said now they can take their time.
The ceremony was put together by organizers with Loud Mouth Radio and May Day Equality.
St. Petersburg City Council member Steve Kornell also attended the ceremony, and proclaimed Saturday as “No Ordinary Love LBGTQ Day” in St. Pete.