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PrideFest Draws Hundreds To Downtown Hartford

Hundreds of people walked up and down Pratt Street for PrideFest on Saturday afternoon, occasionally posing for photos with friends and loved ones, many with rainbow flags draped over their shoulders, rainbow-patterned paint on their faces, beads around their necks and flags in their hands.

For Natalie Campbell, 71, of New Britain, who has been with her wife, Judy, for 43 years and married since 2013, it was a day to celebrate.

"When the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage across the country, that celebration is something I'll never forget. The fact that it's still continuing year after year just encourages me to let people know that love is love and we're happy to celebrate," Campbell said. "We got together in 1974. To actually live long enough to see same-sex marriage legalized across the country, it's a miracle."

Campbell described this year's festival on Pratt Street, the culmination of a week of events, as a block party, with booths lined up and down the street offering information on programs and resources available around the area, as well as vendors selling food\ and drinks.

At each end of Pratt Street a rainbow assortment of balloons arched over the crowd, welcoming walkers at the Main Street entrance and pulling in others with different musical performances at the Trumbull Street entrance. Zigzagging from lamppost to lamppost were rainbow flags and banners.

Stefanie Deenihan, of Suffield, came to PrideFest to support her son, Anthony Moore, an 18-year-old student at Asnuntuck Community College.

"I wasn't expecting this big of a turnout," Moore said. "It's nice, it's pretty cool to see everybody here and supportive."

Kimberly Deyo, 18, a Thomaston resident and a freshman at University of Hartford, attended the festival with her roommate, Anna Egan Hess, 18 of Lancaster, Pa. Both are part of UHart's LGBTQ group, called Spectrum.

Deyo said that in Thomaston, there is nothing set up like Hartford's PrideFest.

"I just want this atmosphere, which I can't get back home," Deyo said. "It's just a really great atmosphere. Everyone is so welcoming and they're giving all these resources and stuff, so it's just really good. I'm giving some of this stuff to my friends who aren't here. It's a strong feeling of support here. It's nice."

Egan Hess said the area where she grew up in Lancaster is a "very conservative, rural area" with a small Pride event every year.

"I've seen a lot of different ways that Pride can be done, so I wasn't really sure how this one would play out," Egan Hess said. "It's nice; it's cozy."

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