Mr. Tisdale and I lived in Louisiana for five years before moving to Louisville in 2002. There’s very little we miss about Louisiana. Certainly not the daily random acts of violence, the monsoon-style deluges, or the impossibility of finding decent (i.e., nonwhite) bread. But one thing we do miss is the parades. Nobody parties like Louisianians, and their parades must be experienced to be believed. It doesn’t matter if it’s Mardi Gras, Christmas, St. Patrick’s Day, Southern Decadence – or even a random Tuesday. Louisianians will find an excuse to have a parade, and they do it right.
After five years of debauched pageantry in the Creole state, Louisville’s parade scenes were ridiculously disappointing. Where were the tins of canned ham? The decorated coconuts? The pickaninny dolls (yes, really)? The drunken men carrying jerry-rigged fire torches? The elderly ladies in gloves picking up discarded beads after the parade ended to re-use them (as long as the beads were the colors of their krewe)?
We found Louisville’s parades to be rather staid. Sweetly earnest, but not very exciting.
The Kentuckiana Pride Parade, held each June in downtown Louisville, is one of the most enjoyable parades in our adopted city. It’s certainly our favorite. For one thing, it starts at 7 p.m. on a Friday night – which means it’s easy to get to after work. The parade ends at the Pride Fest (which also opens at 7 p.m. on Friday) – so after the last marchers go by, the spectators join the parade route and pour into the festival (which has an entrance fee of just $5).
But the biggest thing for Mr. Tisdale and me is the attitudes of the marchers and the spectators. It’s truly a “y’all come” affair. Everyone is welcome, and the spirit of camaraderie is like being embraced by a warm rainbow-colored blanket.
This year’s parade was particularly poignant after the massacre in Orlando. #WeAreOrlando and #LoveWins signs were everywhere. Spectators frequently jumped into the parade to hug people they recognized or to walk with them for a bit. After so much recent tragedy, it was comforting to be surrounded by the love and resolve of my fellow Louisvillians.
Pride Fest happened just six days after the Orlando killings, and five days after over 2,000 people rallied on the Big Four Bridge in honor of the victims. This video sums up one of the many reasons why I am proud to call myself a Louisvillian by choice.