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Thousands fill Grand Central for St. Pete Pride

For St. Pete Pride participants Jessica Palmer and Alan Elmiger, representing Boulevard Burgers and Taphouse, this year's Pride celebration was welcome Saturday in the wake of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.
For St. Pete Pride participants Jessica Palmer and Alan Elmiger, representing Boulevard Burgers and Taphouse, this year's Pride celebration was welcome Saturday in the wake of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. Chay Baxley/Bay News 9

Paradegoers showed up early for this year’s Pride parade Saturday in St. Petersburg.

Combined with a block party, the parade attracted 150 businesses and organizations, 4,500 marchers and tens of thousands of supporters to St. Petersburg’s eclectic Grand Central District.

Food and souvenir vendors lined the streets starting at 4 p.m., and by 6 p.m. music and dancing had filled the streets. The parade got underway at dusk.

For participants such as Jessica Palmer and Alan Elmiger, the celebrations were welcome in the wake of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history at Orlando’s gay nightclub Pulse, which claimed 49 lives and injured 53 more.

“We came to support equal rights,” said Palmer, “and to support the victims of the Orlando shooting.”

Palmer and Elmiger participated in the parade as representatives for their employer, Boulevard Burgers and Taphouse. Following the terrorist attack at Pulse nightclub June 12, they admit to being apprehensive.

“There’s so many undercover (police officers),” said Elmiger.

“I feel safe,” added Palmer. “You can’t live in a bubble for the rest of your life. You have to support what you want.”

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