Massive crowd gathers for San Francisco's Pride Parade

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A large crowd packed San Francisco to watch the Pride Parade on Sunday.

The 44th Annual San Francisco Pride Parade attracted tens of thousands of spectators and participants under unseasonably warm and sunny skies Sunday.

The hundreds of motorcyclists of the lesbian group Dykes on Bikes took their traditional spot at the head of the parade and loudly kicked off the festivities with a combined roar.

Corporate support was also strong with thousands of employees representing large companies marching through San Francisco's downtown to city hall. Apple Inc. had one of the largest corporate presences and chief executive Tim Cook greeted the estimated 4,000 employees and family clad in white t-shirts with the Apple logo and the word "Pride" emblazoned on the front before they set out on the mile-long journey. Cook didn't participate in the march. In addition to Apple, corporations like Google, Kaiser Permanente, Facebook, and Whole Foods also had a presence.

"The amount of corporate support in San Francisco is much greater," one person said.

"The fact that they want to be here shows that we're at a tipping point of sorts," another person said.

"It's a market place and it's a statement," Berkeley resident Todd Parr said. Some feel the infusion of corporate dollars has given the Pride Parade mainstream acceptance. "Really good companies that do this, you know their hearts in it, they believe in it, they're supporting and that wouldn't have happened years ago," he added.

The 44th Annual San Francisco Pride Parade gave attendees all they could ask for and more. There was music, flash, flare and a lot of attitude.

Thousands were in the city for the start of the parade. Jewlyes Guiterrez, the transgender teen who defended herself against schoolyard bullies, was a grand marshal. "I'd like to thank the LGBT community and thank everyone who supported me 100 percent," she said.

Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and assorted state and local politicians rolled along San Francisco's Market Street along with gay San Francisco Police Department officers holding hands with their significant others as their children skipped ahead.

"Celebrating people's lives, celebrating equality, celebrating progress, that never gets old. That's what it's all about," Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom said.

Several elementary schools, summer camps and other groups representing families and children were part of the parade along with the San Francisco Gay Men's Choir, who belted out tunes along the way like "New Beginning." Empty cans of glitter hair spray, liquor bottles and plastic beads littered the route which was thronged on both sides with cheering spectators.

The Pink Parade was on Saturday and the San Francisco Police Department told ABC7 News that they opened two command centers. They had six felony arrests and 65 arrests for public intoxication.

Police say there have been no arrests so far and the crowd has been peaceful and well behaved on Sunday.

U.S. Army Pvt. Chelsea Manning was named an "honorary grand marshal" for the parade a year after organizers bestowed and then rescinded the same title after fielding complaints. Manning is serving a 35-year sentence in a military prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas after being convicted of sending classified documents to anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks. She joined the Army as a man named Bradley, but changed her name to Chelsea after being diagnosed with gender dysphoria, the sense of being a woman in a man's body.

Manning's supporters Sunday defended the decision to name her a grand marshal.

"She's a hero, she's a whistleblower who exposed wrongdoing," said Jeff Paterson, founder of the Pvt. Manning Support Network. "She's the only openly transgender person active in the military."

Spectators and visitors have been flocking to the city for a week, crowding San Francisco's bars, restaurants and other public gathering places. The San Francisco Police Department opened two special command centers in the city and reported 65 public intoxication arrests along with six felony arrests Saturday night.

Nonetheless, for some veterans of the parade, the annual event has lost some of its edge as it gains mainstream acceptance.

"There's less partying," said Larry Pettit, who said he attended the first parade. "There's less sex. Everyone's interested in politics and no one is having sex."

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is advising Muni riders of several reroutes due to Sunday's Pride celebration and parade.

Muni officials said the 5, 19 and 21 routes will reroute all day, and the 3, 47, 49, 76X and 108 will likely be subject to delays.

The San Francisco Pride Parade started at 10:30 a.m. on Market and Beale streets.

Muni is also reminding the community there will be heavy traffic congestion in areas around Market Street due to the many people attending the parade and celebration.

For a full list of street closures and other events click here.

The Associated Press and Bay City News contributed to this story.
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