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Secrets of New York

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Be a part of the NYC Pride March's

Be a part of the NYC Pride March's history, whether you trek along Fifth or not, by learning the march's secrets. (Credit: Getty Images / Neilson Barnard)


Secrets of NYC Pride March

36th Street and Fifth Avenue, New York, 10111

The biggest LGBTQ pride celebration in the world takes place right here in NYC.

NYC Pride March, run by the nonprofit Heritage of Pride, is an annual civil rights demonstration dedicated to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender fight for equality. It began as the Christopher Street Liberation Day march in 1970 outside of the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village to commemorate the Stonewall riots of 1969.

In celebration of the U.S. Supreme Court marriage equality ruling, the 2015 march was the biggest one yet -- with more than 350 groups participating and 80 floats covered in rainbow-colored pride.

“When you look down Fifth and you see screaming people and rainbow flags, it reminds you in that moment that no matter where you come from, you’re not alone. That’s a very important thing,” Heritage of Pride's co-chair David Studinski said.

This year's march, which begins at noon June 24, features a reversed route: Instead of marching to Stonewall, revelers will pass the bar and march up Fifth Avenue into midtown. The chance comes in preparation of next year's 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, according to Pride.

Be a part of the history, whether you trek up Fifth or not, by learning the march’s secrets.

The six rainbow arches that lead the march

Credit: Getty Images / Michael Nagle

It takes nearly 2,000 balloons to create the iconic rainbow arches

The six rainbow arches that lead the march on Fifth Avenue are made up of 1,872 colorful balloons.

The arches, which have become a symbol of the march's embodiment of LGBTQ pride, are "very close to the heart of the organization," Studinski said. It takes as many as 20 volunteers to help guide them along the path.

Pictured: The six rainbow balloon arches make their way down Fifth Avenue during the march on June 24, 2012.

The first march for pride, known as Christopher

Credit: Charles Eckert

It’s a march — not a parade

The first march for pride, known as Christopher Street Liberation Day, was held in 1970 outside of the Stonewall Inn. Organized to commemorate the Stonewall riots of 1969, it embodied a much different tone than today's celebratory gathering. Heritage of Pride took over Christopher Street Liberation Day in 1984, dubbing the extended walk NYC Pride March.

"We still call it a march because it is still a demonstration and is still a fight for equality, even with such great victories as the same-sex marriage equality ruling," Studinski said. "We continue to march for rights for everyone."

Pictured: A couple walks in the 2013 NYC Pride March after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that granted gay couples in California the federal benefits of marriage.

The Sirens Women's Motorcycle Club has been leading

Credit: Getty Images

Motorcycles lead the roar for equality

The Sirens Women's Motorcycle Club has been leading the parade since 1986, founding member Cheryl Stewart said. The club, which accepts march participants through its website, brought 71 motorcyclists to the 2015 event, Studinski said. But, they're much more than just another group participating.

"They provide a powerful roar to get the crowd energized," Studinski said. "They tell the world 'we are here and we are coming.'"

Volunteers are the

Credit: NYC Pride

More than 500 volunteers help produce 11 events in seven days

Volunteers are the "lifeblood of our organization," the sign-up page at reads, and the organization means that literally. Everyone who has a hand in the planning and execution of NYC Pride Week events (including the march) is a volunteer, Studinski said. Heritage of Pride has more than 500 registered helping hands, he said.

Credit: Newsday / Tom Kitts

Without the march, would the Stonewall riots have been forgotten?

"There's a big connection between the gay pride march and the Stonewall Inn," Ann Bausum, author of "Stonewall: Breaking Out in the Fight for Gay Rights," said. Bausum, a history writer with a focus on social justice movements, said the organizer of the Christopher Street Liberation Day Parade, Craig Rodwell, "single-handedly helped keep the memory of the Stonewall riots alive."

Rodwell's organization of the first LGBT rights march, continued today as the NYC Pride March, may be one of the reasons the message behind the riots has not been forgotten.

Adaptations of the march still take place across the globe. The first Christopher Street Day celebration, a nod to the march in 1970 outside of the Greenwich Village bar, took place in Berlin on June 30, 1979.

Pictured: Marchers walk down Christopher Street on June 29, 1986.

Credit: NYC Pride

Volunteers dedicate 11 out of 12 months of the year to Pride Week

"Planning starts in August of the year before," Studinski said. "That's when grand marshal conversations, theme discussions, budget arrangements and spaces are planned." In their one month off, those who helped make the magic happen get to take part in a volunteer appreciation party in July, Studinski said, making it pretty much a year-round effort.

The only year in the event's history that

Credit: Getty Images / Eric Thayer

There was only one time the arches weren’t the colors of the pride flag

The only year in the event's history that the balloon arches didn't represent the pride flag was in 2015. Heritage of Pride chose to stick with red, white and blue balloons in celebration of the year of the marriage equality ruling, Studinski said.


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