MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Thousands came out Sunday to attend Madison's annual pride parade. The event, organized by Outreach, attracted floats from local groups ranging from car dealerships and banks to churches and social justice organizations.
One of those groups, Orgullo Latinx, worked on their rainbow float for five hours.
"The theme for this year is unity. we're here and we want to continue, be united, and that's the main message that we want to send to the community," said Diego Campoverde, a supervisor for the group.
His colleague, Gabriel Navarro, was assigned to design and organize their float. Navarro said the key to their float is energy.
"We have to be excited, we have to enjoy it here, and again, we're gonna dance a lot," he said.
One local group that marched in the parade as an ally to the LGBT+ in the First Congregational United Church of Christ. Ann Beaty is a minister with the church. Her organization has had a presence in the parade for years.
"We are open and affirming, welcoming of all. Our congregation has had that status for almost 26 years so we've been marching in the pride parade a long time and we want all of Madison to know the church is a welcoming place," Beaty said.
Baltazar Deanda-Santana is the Director for Orgullo Latinx. Walking in the parade with immigrant families each year makes him proud of his identity.
"There's a lot of things going on with our immigration system right now, we are here, we are immigrants, and we are LGBT+ immigrants so I am very, very proud. That's what 'Orgullo' means, proud," he said.
The celebration was also met with controversy. Outreach rescinded their invitations to law enforcement. According to a letter the organization posted on Facebook, "MPD was asked not to attend to better hear the voices of marginalized groups, particularly queer and transgender people of color."
In a statement, MPD Chief Mike Koval responded saying, "We are disappointed in the recent decision by Outreach to rescind our participation in the pride parade, but we respect the decision and understand and acknowledge the complex issues at hand."
Deanda-Santana also reacted to the lack of police presence. "There's a lot of conversation about the exclusion of the police departments in the parade and there's a lot of things that the community said. the LGBT+ community said," he explained, "we are here to remind the LGBT+ community that we need each other."
Pride month is typically celebrated in June, but Madison's parade takes place in August so returning students can participate.