Every year, the Utah Pride Festival offers its patrons great music, entertainment and food. But what would a fabulous party be without a fabulous parade?
And this year’s parade, according to parade director Logan Brueck, is going to be as fabulous as ever. In part because his group, the Righteously Outrageous Twirling Company, will be posting the colors and opening the parade with one of their dazzling color guard routines – the one set to the ABBA classic “Mama Mia.”
“We took the routine down to Vegas [Pride] and took first place with it,” said Brueck. “But we’ll change it for our parade and make it showier.” How showy? “It’ll have special effects,” including flag tosses and a move Brueck calls “the head cutter.”
“It’s a close order with a flag where they do a fast sweep over the head of the person next to them, and the person bows down [so the flag doesn’t hit them],” he explained.
The ROTC will be just one of the many groups, organizations and individuals participating in the parade this year. So far they include regulars like the Utah Pride Center, the Queer Utah Aquatic Club, local gay bars and QSaltLake, of course. But there are also a number of new faces, including environmental group Save Our Canyons, the Salt Lake City Center for Spiritual Living, humanitarian organization Angels in Action, Utah for Obama and, Pom-Poms Not Bomb-Bombs, Utah’s own “radical cheerleaders” who cheer for democracy and an end to war.
According to Brueck, about 70 groups signed up to march last year. And so far, “about 40” have signed up to walk this year.
“Some groups are like 40-50 strong, and this isn’t even the group that carries the pride flag,” he said.
Although Utah Pride is drawing closer, parade stragglers don’t need to panic just yet. They have until May 31 to submit their applications – along with a fee of $125 ($250 for local businesses).
This year’s parade will follow the same route as last year, starting on 300 S, traveling up to South Temple and then down to the festival grounds on 400 S (Washington Square and the Salt Lake City Library). But, this year, Brueck added, there will be a little healthy competition to make things interesting. This time, entries will be judged and awards will be given for best float, best bar float, best marching/walking unit and “best overall.”
“We’re going to make it more fun and have some competition to see if people do a little extra,” Brueck said, adding that the bar’s trophy will be “a floating trophy, kind of like the Stanley Cup.”
“Every year it’ll come back, and if someone else wins they get it and get their name on it and the year they won,” he said.
And for parade-goers who come out to watch ROTC post the U.S. flag before the parade, Brueck says the Old Glory the group plans to use this year has quite a story behind it. As he tells it, the flag was a gift to Utah AIDS Foundation co-founder Anna Martin from an AIDS patient she counseled. As he tells it, the patient left town to attend a friend’s funeral.
“He came back and showed Anna a picture of him and this girl with her sitting in his lap. He was in military dress in Vietnam – it kinda looked like a Prom picture,” Brueck recalled. “He had explained … that this was who he was going to see, she was who was being buried.” Later, when her client was dying, he told Martin that the girl in the picture was his partner, who was wearing drag at the time.
“And he handed her the American flag and he said this came off his coffin. He asked Anna to take care of it. She held on to it and didn’t know what to do with it. Nothing seemed to be right and respectful enough for it.” After meeting a member of ROTC, Brueck said Martin decided to donate it to the group, who have carried it with them ever since and have told its story, including at last year’s Southern Utah Pride.
“Before I could finish, people were standing up with their hands over their hearts,” he remembered.
The Utah Pride Parade will be held on Sunday, June 8. For more information about registering an entry, the parade route and participation regulations visit utahpridecenter.org/utahpride/index.php/Get-Involved/Parade.html. The parade will start at 10:00 a.m.