FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Thousands united in celebration at the heart of Tower District on Saturday for the 33rd Annual Fresno Pride parade and festival.

The parade ran through the heart of Fresno’s queer epicenter, Tower District, ending with a festival at Fresno City College.

“This parade and our festival is the single largest single-day event in the Central Valley, the festival as well. We get the largest crowds,” said Tracie Cisneros, an ally, mother, and volunteer coordinator. “This Pride event in the Central Valley is the largest Pride event from Sacramento to Kern County, this is it.”

While some may question the need for an annual Pride parade, many believe events like these provide the visibility essential to fostering a safe space in a seemingly difficult time for the community.

“It can be challenging, we live in a rather conservative part of California, and here is the safe space,” Cisneros explained, “That’s what this is all about, right? Visibility is key. If you can see that there are people like you who love you and support you, it makes you feel that much more secure and you know you can find that help when you need it.”

After the parade, people continued the celebration at Fresno City College’s 33rd Annual Pride Festival. With just $5, people had access to tons of vendors and food trucks with a special drag host, Fresno’s DeJa Skye from season 14 of “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”

“We have all kinds of other entertainment, we have spoken word, we’ve got drag queens… we’ve got lots of food, merchandise for sale, we’ve got a ton of resource booths… this year we have 26 food trucks,” President of Fresno Rainbow Pride Bryan Cauwels said.

While this year-long effort to create an event for close to 14,000 people may take a great deal of blood, sweat, and tears, Cauwels believes it is worth it in the end.

“It’s a ton of work and money to put on a huge event like this so we all were rewarded today when we see all of the smiles and all the people and thousands of people coming together to just have a great time. All of our effort pays off today. It’s a year-long process, so we’ll start planning for 2024 in two weeks,” he said.

Anyone who missed this year’s event can look forward to next year’s celebration.

“You’re seen, you’re heard, we love you, we care about you and this is a space for you, for anybody, any gender, any culture, anyone you’re more than welcome to come join us here and you’ll have a great time trust me” Cauwels expressed.

This year’s theme, “Qu33r All Year,” served as a powerful reminder to be full of Pride, and not just in June.