Las Vegas shows its pride, in the wake of Oct. 1

Thousands expected to come to downtown Las Vegas for the Pride parade. (Jeff Gillan | KSNV)

Around 25,000 people are expected to line 4th Street on Friday night for the 34th Annual Las Vegas Pride Parade, a celebration of Las Vegas' Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender community.

Suddenly, this parade has a much bigger message. It is the valley's biggest public event since the massacre of '1 October' on the Strip, which was the largest mass shooting in modern American history.

“I think the message to me is that everybody who lives here in Las Vegas is strong,” says Blue Montana, a transgender activist who works at The Center, Las Vegas’ safe space for the LGBTQ community.

It's strength in the face of tragedy, and organizers say security will be tight.

“We've increased the number of officers that are included in the parade tonight, as well as at the festival this weekend. And we have a security company. Most of them are former military and former law enforcement agencies,” says former Assemblyman James Heley, the President of Las Vegas Pride.

The parade is tonight. Over the weekend is a two-day festival at Sunset Park featuring food, dancing, and all sorts of fun. On Sunday morning, it will also feature an interfaith service.

They're three days of fun, now with a backdrop that evil can happen here, too.

“I think it's a little too early and people are still scared. But we have to show them that we are stronger and that we are united here in Las Vegas,” says Tony Garcia, who was volunteering Friday at The Center.

The Center’s Executive Director, Andre Wade, says tonight he expects people to be aware of their surroundings.

“I think in a public situation like this security is always a concern, so it’s going to be the mantra of ‘see something, say something’,” said Wade.

Friday night will feature folks of all stripes: young and old, gay and straight, bi and trans, all coming together to celebrate acceptance and diversity. In the backdrop looms the shooting of Oct. 1, and how it will change this city.

“That's not just the LGBT community under attack - everybody at that concert was from all different walks of life, and they're under attack for whatever reason,” said Montana.

“Ironically, about five or six months ago, we chose the theme for this year’s Pride, which is ‘United Together,'" said Heley.

Never more appropriate in a city that’s now “Vegas Strong.”

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