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Representatives of U.S. Bank carry a large pride flag across the parade route during the Capital City Pride Fest parade in Des Moines on June 9. The parade started at the Iowa Capitol Building and traveled down Grand Avenue in the East Village. 

The Capital City Pride Fest Parade provided an opportunity for corporations, political aspirants, religious congregations and organizations of all kinds to march and show their support for, or pride in being a part of the queer community Sunday in Des Moines.

“We’re here, we’re queer, and we’d like to say hello,” the Iowa Safe Schools contingent chanted as they marched down Grand Avenue from the Iowa State Capitol building.

Iowa Safe Schools’ website lists its mission as providing “safe, supportive, and nurturing learning environments” for LGBTQIA+ youth and their allies.

As is the case with other pride parades across the continent, those participating in the parade handed out countless strands of beaded necklaces to onlookers along the route. A participant with the Wells Fargo contingent said they had been banned by organizers from throwing the beads to onlookers.

Drag queens, in many cases perched on trailers pulled behind trucks along the parade route, waved to onlookers and occasionally engaged in call-and-response shouts of “happy pride” with them.

Participants and onlookers spanned all ages, from infants in strollers, young children, college students and to those of advanced age.

Several Protestant congregations participated in the parade, as did the Iowa Atheists and Freethinkers. The atheist group handed out “get out of church free” cards.

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A parade participant holds a sign showing her support for the LGBTQIA+ community during the Capital City Pride Fest parade in Des Moines on June 9. The parade started at the Iowa Capitol Building and traveled down Grand Avenue in the East Village. 

Various Democratic political candidates, campaigns and groups participated in the parade.

Fifth-term incumbent Iowa Rep. Ruth Ann Gaines, D-Des Moines, rode down Grand Avenue with style, in a blue mustang decked out with pride regalia.

Multiple Democratic presidential campaigns had supporters marching in the parade, some of whom carried clipboards to gather information from would-be supporters in the crowds along the route.

U.S. Senate hopeful Kimberly Graham marched in the parade, the only one of the three declared Democratic primary candidates who were present at the event.

Both the Story and Polk County Democrats had contingents march in the parade. Taylor Blair, senior in industrial design at Iowa State, marched with the Story County Democrats.

“I always have fun at pride,” Blair said. “It was a little late, but that’s to be expected.”

The parade was scheduled to start at noon, though the procession did not begin until just after 12:40 p.m.

After roughly an hour, the parade was over and onlookers and participants alike headed down Grand Avenue, where Pride Fest events continued the rest of the day.

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