Toronto's Pride Parade 2014: Sunday June 29, at 1 p.m. (yes, one hour earlier than the previous years).
2014 is a special year for Pride Toronto because Toronto is hosting WorldPride, the biggest Pride celebration in the world. It is the first time that this international event is held in North America. (Think of it as the Olympics of Pride activism, held every two years in different countries).
The Pride Parade is probably not every parent's cup of tea, but the event certainly has come a long way since the days when floats and streets were overflowing with participants dressed in drag or S & M outfits. You can explain as much or as little as you want about the colourful drag queens you still encounter at this parade. Don't worry, your kids won't be traumatized by them. They've seen the movie Hairspray, they know it's John Travolta dressed as a woman. The "Men-who-like-to-be-naked" float that I saw when attending the event is a bit trickier, depending on your take on nudity. After the parade, we encountered some of their... members strolling on Church. Otherwise, a great ambience rules on Yonge Street during this parade. Some bring water guns. Huge beach balls are pushed above our heads, rock concert style. Many floats have a Caribana feeling to them. Plus, I was very touched to see some of the floats (the "parents supporting their gay kids" float and the "kids supporting their gay parents" float, to name a few).
The StreetFair along Church is colourful and very lively, a must after the parade (free rainbow flags are usually distributed during the event). Another very good reason to walk down Church Street is the new Church Street Murals Project. (See the photo gallery on Toronto Urban Strolls blog.) The StreetFair includes a Family Pride space with giveaways, crafts and little interactive shows around the school at the corner of Church and Alexander. (In 2014, the Family Pride space is open June 28 and 29 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.) Note that Allan Gardens is less than 5-minute walk east of Church Street on Carlton and on June 29, it will feature music shows (part of WorldPride activities) from 12 noon to at least 6 p.m. (I know for a fact that Sultans of String will be playing at 5 p.m.).