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Businesses, churches, many others stand tall with Noho Pride March

  • A balloon displays kicks off the 32nd annual LGBT Parade and Pride Event, Saturday, on Main Street in Northampton.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    A balloon displays kicks off the 32nd annual LGBT Parade and Pride Event, Saturday, on Main Street in Northampton.

    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • A sign is displayed, Saturday, at the 32nd annual LGBT Parade and Pride Event in Northampton.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    A sign is displayed, Saturday, at the 32nd annual LGBT Parade and Pride Event in Northampton.

    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Stefanie Marotte of Hooping Harmony performs Saturday in the 32nd annual LGBT Parade and Pride Event in Northampton.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    Stefanie Marotte of Hooping Harmony performs Saturday in the 32nd annual LGBT Parade and Pride Event in Northampton.

    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • A sign is displayed, Saturday, at the 32nd annual LGBT Parade and Pride Event in Northampton.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    A sign is displayed, Saturday, at the 32nd annual LGBT Parade and Pride Event in Northampton.

    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Mayor David J. Narkewicz speaks, Saturday, at the 32nd annual LGBT Parade and Pride Event in Northampton.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    Mayor David J. Narkewicz speaks, Saturday, at the 32nd annual LGBT Parade and Pride Event in Northampton.

    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • A large crowd fills Main Street in Northampton, Saturday, during the 32nd annual LGBT Parade and Pride Event.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    A large crowd fills Main Street in Northampton, Saturday, during the 32nd annual LGBT Parade and Pride Event.

    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • A large crowd fills Main Street in Northampton, Saturday, during the 32nd annual LGBT Parade and Pride Event.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    A large crowd fills Main Street in Northampton, Saturday, during the 32nd annual LGBT Parade and Pride Event.

    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Evelyn Rob of Northampton is pulled in a Pedal People cart at last Saturday's 32nd annual LGBT Parade and Pride Event in Northampton.<br/>SARAH CROSBY

    Evelyn Rob of Northampton is pulled in a Pedal People cart at last Saturday's 32nd annual LGBT Parade and Pride Event in Northampton.
    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Maribelle Rosado of Springfield, left, cheers Saturday during the 32nd annual LGBT Parade and Pride Event in Northampton.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    Maribelle Rosado of Springfield, left, cheers Saturday during the 32nd annual LGBT Parade and Pride Event in Northampton.

    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Danielle Parent of Springfield, left, Nya Parent of Amherst, 14, and Shawn Parent of Amherst cheer Saturday during the 32nd annual LGBT Parade and Pride Event on Main Street in Northampton. Gabriel Gonzalez Jr. of Amherst, 3, looks on at bottom left.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    Danielle Parent of Springfield, left, Nya Parent of Amherst, 14, and Shawn Parent of Amherst cheer Saturday during the 32nd annual LGBT Parade and Pride Event on Main Street in Northampton. Gabriel Gonzalez Jr. of Amherst, 3, looks on at bottom left.

    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • A group supporting veterans walks Main Street in Northampton, Saturday, during the 32nd annual LGBT Parade and Pride Event.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    A group supporting veterans walks Main Street in Northampton, Saturday, during the 32nd annual LGBT Parade and Pride Event.

    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Christina Montalvo, left, and Carlos Centeno "Bella Nova", both of Springfield, pose Saturday during the 32nd annual LGBT Parade and Pride Event on Main Street in Northampton.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    Christina Montalvo, left, and Carlos Centeno "Bella Nova", both of Springfield, pose Saturday during the 32nd annual LGBT Parade and Pride Event on Main Street in Northampton.

    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • A balloon displays kicks off the 32nd annual LGBT Parade and Pride Event, Saturday, on Main Street in Northampton.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • A sign is displayed, Saturday, at the 32nd annual LGBT Parade and Pride Event in Northampton.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • Stefanie Marotte of Hooping Harmony performs Saturday in the 32nd annual LGBT Parade and Pride Event in Northampton.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • A sign is displayed, Saturday, at the 32nd annual LGBT Parade and Pride Event in Northampton.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • Mayor David J. Narkewicz speaks, Saturday, at the 32nd annual LGBT Parade and Pride Event in Northampton.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • A large crowd fills Main Street in Northampton, Saturday, during the 32nd annual LGBT Parade and Pride Event.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • A large crowd fills Main Street in Northampton, Saturday, during the 32nd annual LGBT Parade and Pride Event.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • Evelyn Rob of Northampton is pulled in a Pedal People cart at last Saturday's 32nd annual LGBT Parade and Pride Event in Northampton.<br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • Maribelle Rosado of Springfield, left, cheers Saturday during the 32nd annual LGBT Parade and Pride Event in Northampton.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • Danielle Parent of Springfield, left, Nya Parent of Amherst, 14, and Shawn Parent of Amherst cheer Saturday during the 32nd annual LGBT Parade and Pride Event on Main Street in Northampton. Gabriel Gonzalez Jr. of Amherst, 3, looks on at bottom left.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • A group supporting veterans walks Main Street in Northampton, Saturday, during the 32nd annual LGBT Parade and Pride Event.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • Christina Montalvo, left, and Carlos Centeno "Bella Nova", both of Springfield, pose Saturday during the 32nd annual LGBT Parade and Pride Event on Main Street in Northampton.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

— It was tough to tell which were more plentiful at the 32nd annual gay pride march here Saturday: church groups, local businesses, or high school gay/straight alliances.

Marchers set off in front of Thornes Marketplace on Main Street promptly at noon, led by the customary Northampton police cruiser escort, immediately followed by the eardrum-blasting, engine-revving Dykes on Bikes contingent of more than a dozen women on motorcycles.

After that, the Noho Pride March took a full 50 minutes before all contingents had passed, leaving the throngs of onlookers to fall in behind for a rowdy trip to the Three County Fairgrounds. There, a rally that was as much entertainment and festival as it was a political call to action took up the better part of the afternoon on a glorious early spring day under a cloudless sky.

Northampton Police Sgt. Alan Borowski said the march and rally afterward went without so much as a single problem.

“The weather allowed for a great turnout,” Borowski said. “There were no issues at all. It went really smooth.”

He estimated the crowd to be about 10,000, though march organizers had predicted a much higher turnout.

Among the marchers were seven of the nine-member Northampton City Council, Mayor David J. Narkewicz, U.S. Rep. James McGovern of Worcester, State Sen. Stanley Rosenberg of Amherst, and Steve Kerrigan, a former aide to the late U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy who is now campaigning for the post of lieutenant governor.

There were so many — and such a wide variety — of local businesses represented in the march, you could only assume being supportive of gay rights is actually good for business. Among the contingents were cab companies, pharmacy chains, insurance companies, hospitals, lawn-care businesses, car dealerships, banks, several local hospitals and medical centers, private schools and day care centers, and numerous labor groups.

There were as many as two dozen groups of public school students marching behind gay straight alliance banners from high schools up and down the Pioneer Valley.

Among the more than two dozen religious groups represented were Unitarians, Quakers, Buddhists, congregational churches, Episcopal churches, synagogues, Muslims, and a meditation center.

And there were plenty of marchers who defied categories entirely: several dozen energetic hula-hoopers, neighborhood associations, brass bands, softball players, drag queens dancing in the back of a pickup truck, a car with a sign “Classy Old Dykes” ferrying a half-dozen women.

Marchers waved, threw candy and colorful necklaces, handed out water bottles, Frisbees, refrigerator magnets, and reusable bags to onlookers who clapped, cheered, and waved right back as the march proceeded.

At the rally later, Leeds resident John Martins said he found the onlookers’ enthusiastic response to the marchers a compelling part of his first-ever pride march.

“I was especially moved by the gay straight alliances and the vocal support and welcome given to these young people,” he said. “They have a supportive network of people who love and support them.”

Martins, 34, who moved to Leeds from Philadelphia eight months ago to take a job at Mount Holyoke College, said he appreciated seeing the community turn out to support each other.

Springfield resident Scott McGinley, 42, at the march with Martins and several others, said he took part in last year’s march, and this year decided to return to celebrate with friends.

“I think 2013 is the year of the queer,” he said, ticking off the highlights for him that included major decisions on gay marriage and unprecedented support for gay rights articulated by President Barack Obama.

Northampton High School sophomore Rhiannon Poth said she marched this year for the second year with the NHS gay-straight alliance.

“The whole thing was very upbeat,” said Poth, 15. “I really liked it.”

Among the speakers at the rally was Narkewicz, who also ticked off some of the gains made by the gay community, including Obama’s pledge of support for gay marriage, and the recent announcement by Jason Collins, a 12-year veteran of the NBA, that he is gay.

“Today we gather to rejoice in the progress that has been achieved, but also note that there is more to be done,” Narkewicz said. “Happy Pride Day, everybody.”

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