I attended my first-ever Pride Parade over the weekend. I wanted to go into it showing support while trying very hard not to participate in cultural appropriation. My goal is always to encourage people to find their own voice without stealing their chance to be heard. This is not an area where I always succeed, but I am still learning.

The turnout was great, the streets downtown filled with people wearing fun and colorful outfits. Cheers arose as the first vehicle in the parade approached. Crowd engagement at the Pride Parade was far higher than any other parade I've attended. When the marginalized are finally free to be themselves, they do not take that freedom for granted.

Celebration and joy permeated the atmosphere. Fans were waved, bubbles were blown, and smiles shone on every face. As per the Downtown Billings Alliance guidelines, no flags or candy were thrown from floats.

After the parade, booths opened up below Skypoint for the Pride Fest. Vendors had products ranging from dog bandanas to giant blankets. There were food trucks and live music, and a couple of local animal rescues even had adoptable pets at their booths!

I was more than a little surprised that there were no hecklers in attendance. Living in Billings, Montana, I did expect to encounter a few dissenters. It was refreshing to enjoy a celebration of pride without having to deal with negative agendas.

The last time I attended a parade downtown, someone slipped something into my drink. After that horrifying experience, I was leery to be around so many people again. The Billings Pride Fest proved to be a redeeming experience, showing me that if you are surrounded by the right crowd, you are safe.

Billings Pride Fest 2024

The annual Billings Pride Parade was on Saturday morning with a lively and well-attended parade.

Afterward, Billings Pride Fest was held downtown under Skypoint.

Here are some quick scenes from the parade:

Gallery Credit: Jaci Bjorne