Behind the scenes of Toronto’s 2015 Pride parade

Building a parade, one float at a time

While thousands gathered along Bloor and Yonge Streets waiting in anticipation for Toronto’s annual Pride parade to begin, a smaller but no less enthusiastic group assembled to become the parade.

The usually quiet, serene, tree-lined Rosedale Valley Road, stretching from Park Road to Baywater Avenue, was overflowing with sounds of excitement and preparation on the morning of June 28, 2015. The sound of pounding dance music several streets away greeted those arriving on foot and acted as a guide to the parade’s marshaling area. Floats entered via Bayswater Avenue and were directed to their place in line by dedicated volunteers, and all along the road’s 1.9 km length, preparations and celebrations occurred despite the intermittent steady rain.

When 2pm arrived, the parade roared to life, winding its way up to Bloor and Church to disperse itself among the thousands more participants waiting to march.

Pussy Riot’s Cherry Bomb float waits at the head of the parade. Unfortunately a glitter cannon mounted to the front was unable to be used in Sunday’s rain.

Final touches are applied to Cyndi Lauper’s Kinky Boots float.

Volunteers from York Pride Fest, which is held a week before Toronto Pride, finalize their float’s decorations. Haran Vijayanathan (pictured right) explained the small committee that makes up York Pride Fest has been active for 12 years and has been participating in Toronto Pride since 2009.

Janos Csepreghi: There’s a lot of questions that come with this truck, I guess it was built in the 1950s, I couldn’t tell you exactly when. The real purpose behind it is for funerals. We actually put caskets in the back, it’s a bit of a downer . . . but today with Pride going on were happy to have it used for that!


An officer from the Hamilton Police Service looks on in awe as a giant rainbow Pfizer (Viagra) pill moves past him.

Stretching from Park Avenue to Bayswater Road, the 1.9 km set-up area made finding the right float a long endeavor for some.

Spencer and Justine guide parade participants as they enter Rosedale Valley Road from Bayview Avenue.

Balloons reach out from the back of a CUPE float as a volunteer walks past.

Lucy Mills, Jessie Obeng and Jamal Mayers inflate beach balls to throw into the parade crowd early Sunday morning.

Engineering students Eric Phillips Sheldon, Philip Maldonado and Jake Friday from McMaster University prep their Carpool for Pride. A project from the McMaster Engineering Custom Vehicle Team (MecVT) Friday explained, “We build the cars to be a little ridiculous and customized, it’s in good fun. The car has a Jacuzzi tub in the back and a corvette engine in the front. I love it! First year for the Carpool [at Pride] last year the trailer broke [lots of laughter].”

Wayne Milliner and Blair Vowles work to waterproof the interior of their Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation float before the next downpour hits. “We’re representing provincial OSSTF, 60,000 members across the province, and we are here to ensure that the world knows that we’re positive on Pride,” Milliner said.

Fay Slift makes a silly pose while preparing for her first time in the Pride parade. “I mean it was a bit much yesterday (the rain), we get it, but it’s kinda misty so we’re all gonna look dewy fresh and young as we cheer and wave today! I’m super excited, it’s my first time in the Parade and I’m with the Google team, I’m very honoured!”

Glitter is applied to the BOOM fm logo on Cyndi Lauper’s Kinky Boots float.

Constable Tim Boniface from the Waterloo Regional Police Force ponders the best location to attach rainbow flags to his motorcycle. “They vibrate a lot, so they don’t stay on very well.”

One parade participant finds an efficient way to travel between floats and make deliveries.

Making sure the giant balls have the right feel.

Nadica Phillip, Leanne Hughese and Maryann Vincent prepare for their second year in a row participating in Toronto’s Pride parade.

Bill Calkins with the United Church offers a sunflower cookie to Evelyn Berezowski, an auxiliary officer with the Peel Regional Police. This year, the United Church celebrated 25 years of supporting Pride in Toronto.

Parade participants, floats and vehicles assemble on Rosedale Valley Road early Sunday morning.

Jeff Crews puts the final touches on Pussy Riot’s Cherry Bomb float.

His first year riding on a float, Walid Aoude prepares for the parade in style. “I haven’t slept since last (Friday) night!”

Some last minute rainbow wand practice.

A dance group warms up just prior to hitting the main parade route.

Designer Jeff Crews and Pussy Riot wave to crowds gathered on Bay Street just prior to the start of the 2015 Toronto Pride parade.

Nick Lachance is a Toronto-based photojournalist who has been working as a freelancer since 2009. He discovered his passion for photography and photojournalism while studying Canadian history at Wilfrid Laurier University where he managed the photography department of the award-winning independent campus and community newspaper The Cord. His work has been published in The Waterloo Regional Record, Toronto Star, Metro, Xtra and NOW Magazine.

Read More About:
Culture, News, Pride, Toronto

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