"It's a very special day," St. Pete Pride celebrates 20th year

One of the largest Pride parades in the country is taking place in downtown St. Petersburg this weekend.

The St. Pete Pride Parade returned Saturday with organizers expecting more than 300,000 people to attend. It also marks the 20th anniversary of the event.

"This day is always a very special day," attendee Phyllis Williams said. "My daughter here and my wife and my wonderful friends, that's how we share our pride together. So, yeah, it's a very special day. It's a day of recognizing all love."

Williams says she and her wife have been together 19 years.

"We both are retired firefighters, so when we both first started, our relationship was not recognized in the public," Williams said.

St. Pete Pride says its mission is to strengthen St. Petersburg’s legacy of inclusion and diversity, providing a safe space for the education, self-exploration, and celebration of our LGBTQIA+ community and allies.

Supporting that mission is why several people say they attended this year’s parade, many for the first time.

"It's just an atmosphere of love. That's where I have my free mom hug shirt on. I'm giving lots of hugs too because unfortunately a lot of people in this community don't get hugs from their moms. And that's why I'm out here in this shirt to show them that there are people that will love and support them and accept them,"  Theresa Valentine said.

The weekend events conclude with the ‘Pride In Grand Central’ Street Carnival. The Sunday Street festival will include entertainment, food, and performances starting at 11:00 a.m.