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Austin PRIDE festival ends early due to lightning reports; thousands attend parade

People of all different ages, genders, and races came together to celebrate at the Austin PRIDE festival.

AUSTIN, Texas — Several thousand people took the day to celebrate who they are at the Austin PRIDE Festival.

The festival took place Saturday afternoon at Fiesta Gardens near downtown, but people were asked to evacuate because of reports of lightning at approximately 5:30 p.m. The event was originally supposed to end at 6 p.m.

Despite the rain, thousands in the LGBTQ+ community and allies came together celebrate.

“It’s kind of fun to come down on Saturday and come to our first gay pride festival,” said Ron Yaudas, attended festival.

Yaudas said he and his partner have been together for 42 years and this is their first time celebrating pride in Austin.

“It’s that word pride and many years where you’re just kind of hiding under the candle and so it’s just kind of nice to say no this is who we are,” said Yaudas.

The festival included photo booths, food, and vendors. People could even register to vote. More than a dozen live acts hit the stage from start to finish.

One family said part of the reason they came to the event was to educate their two boys.

“So they can learn about this culture and learn to be tolerant and accepting and that even if you’re different that’s okay,” said Jenna Braden, attended festival.

“It’s nice to see that there are children who are being taught how to grow up and love one another,” said Darius Ratcliff, worked booth at festival.

For Ratcliff, this event provided an opportunity for him to help others who look like him.

“Now that I’m out I can be an example to other black men that are struggling and in the closet.”

The Austin Gay and Lesbian Pride Foundation put on the event. The festival leads up to the Pride Parade, which was scheduled to start at the state Capitol at 8 p.m.

About 400,000 people were expected to have attended the day's events.

Most of the people in attendance wondered how the rain would affect the parade.

"It's very last minute coming together, but we're very excited," Casey Kelly, a member of the Austin LGBT Bar member who was worried about the rain before the parade. "I'm just very nervous about the wind and the rain if it picks up."

Others who were waiting for their float's turn shared the same sentiment about the weather. Representatives from Indeed had to rush and cover up all of their electronics.

"Protecting the rainbows," said Tabitha Almanza, as she covered up the 15-foot tall float with a plastic wrap.

As for Kelly, when the rain came in, there was no stopping his optimism.

"Don't bring around a cloud to rain on my parade. I mean, someone brought around the clouds, but they're gonna go away, we'll be fine," Kelly said.

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