PrideFest and parade through downtown Providence Saturday night

(Kim Kalunian, WPRI)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Providence PrideFest and New England’s only Illuminated Night Parade kicked off downtown in the capital city Saturday evening.

Eyewitness News caught up with Pride participants and parade-goers this weekend before and after the parade.

“I think it’s wonderful that everyone’s just free spirited, just happy being who they are, and no one’s afraid to just let their colors come out,” said West Warwick native William Poole.

Participants named many reasons why they celebrate PrideFest, but for most it is to promote a message of equality and acceptance with the LGBTQ community.

“Pride means to me, just what the word means, being proud, but being proud of who you are as you are,” said Groton, Connecticut resident Melody Lucas.

“Pride to me is just embracing who you are no matter what it is and just being happy to say, ‘this is me, this is who I am, and accepting other people,'” Taunton resident Gabriella Barthe told Eyewitness News during Saturday night’s parade.

Providence was completely lit up along the parade route which ran from Dorrance Street to Weybosset Street.

“There’s nothing wrong with a little celebration,” exclaimed Providence resident Naomi Chomski.

Pride-goer Jessica Cinquegrana told Eyewitness News she celebrates “the freedom that all those LGBT folks before me have had to fight for, for so long.”

As he is with most downtown celebrations and events, Mayor Jorge Elorza was in attendance Saturday to address the crowd of thousands who came out for PrideFest.

“We embrace the LGBTQ community, we support the LGBTQ community, and it’s great for everybody to come out to be loud, to be proud, and be who they are,” said Mayor Elorza.

On PrideFest safety this weekend, Mayor Elorza says additional security has been called in, and other precautions were taken to ensure everyone celebrates safely.