PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — PrideFest kicked off a busy weekend in Pittsburgh on Saturday afternoon.
Crowds flocked downtown to take in a variety of entertainment, shop, and enjoy the general atmosphere.
“Basically what we have here is just a bunch of people loving themselves and accepting themselves for who they are,” Theodore Jackson, of Pittsburgh, said. “That’s my favorite thing about this community is that we’re so strong and we go through so many things and we still find a way to love ourselves.”
“I look forward to Pride every year. I love coming here, I love meeting new people,” Zadorian Lane, of Pittsburgh, said. “It’s a way for all of us to come together and feel free and just have fun.”
Some people came into town just for PrideFest. Lauren De Matteis and Shawn Miller traveled from Canton, Ohio, to join the celebrations.
“We’ve been to the Columbus Pride festival, where we live, and it’s really big. We’ve also been to the Cleveland Pride festival,” De Matteis said. “But we heard Pittsburgh has, like, singers and stuff, so we wanted to come here and experience it, so that’s why we came to Pittsburgh.”
For others, this weekend is their first experience at Pride.
“This is my first Pride,” Jackson said. “I came out last year and that kinda didn’t really go so well, so I feel like now it’s like, this was worth it.”
The festivities concluded Saturday night with the Pride In The Street concert.
“We love Jennifer Hudson! Her voice is amazing. We love ‘Dreamgirls,'” Jeremy Priola of Dormont said.
Jennifer Hudson fans didn’t mind waiting in a long line to see her stretched all the way down Liberty Avenue.
“That was a really long line. Last year, we started way up here, and we were way back there, so it’s great to see this many people coming out to support the Delta Foundation,” J.J. Butler of Dormont said.
This year, Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich says the city is doing something a little bit different to make sure everyone is safe.
“We have screenings similar to what we use at the airports,” Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich said.
The city has barricades and large trucks blocking various intersections for crowd safety and has an bomb-sniffing dog on hand. A large police presence is also visible with officers working 12 hour shifts.
However, people say they’re not afraid to come out and enjoy pride’s festivities.
“Everybody dressed how they wanted. Beautiful colors everywhere and accepted by everyone. We don’t always feel that in small communities,” Damarus Collins of Swissvale said.
Liberty Avenue is shut down for the 150 vendors that set up shop between Sixth and Tenth Streets all weekend long and for a 300-foot zip line that KDKA’s Amy Wadas decided to try out for herself.
In addition to Pittsburgh Pride, the Three Rivers Arts Fest will be going on for one more day on Sunday.
The EQT Equality March begins at 12:30 p.m. Sunday at PPG Paints Arena and ends at Liberty Avenue.