A SPECTACULAR show of flamboyance and colour saw central Bournemouth come to a standstill in the borough’s annual Bourne Free Pride parade.

Thousands of spectators lined the streets to welcome the dozens of floats celebrating lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender culture.

Beginning at East Overcliff Drive and led by crews from Dorset and Wiltshire Fire Service, an array of fancy dress and glitzy outfits were on display as the parade weaved and danced its way towards the Triangle.

Bourne Free’s chairman Louise Clarke told the Daily Echo she was delighted to see such a high turnout.

“To see so many people out and joining in just makes me feel so happy and accepted,” she said.

“Bournemouth is a very accepting community – we have got to admire that and thank everyone for that.”

And Cllr David Kelsey, the council’s diversity and equality champion, dressed up and also took part in the parade. 

“The crowd was very big again this year – it was great to see everyone enjoying it and being included in everything,” he said.

“We have a very, very diverse town and we always have done. I have worked on the gay scene for 30 years or so now and it’s become a lot better over the years.

“The council is fully behind everything and fully supportive of these events.

“A lot of local businesses were involved and as you will have seen, the police, fire service and ambulance service are all behind the equal rights and anti-hate campaign, which Bourne Free is all about.”

The pride weekend started on Friday when Ms Clarke was joined by Cllr Kelsey and other local dignitaries to raise the rainbow flag at Bournemouth Town Hall – a mark of respect to the 49 people killed and 53 wounded in the horrific June attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando.

“That attack highlighted what our community still gets subjected to and we want to show solidarity,” said Ms Clarke.

“We’ve all had abuse, homophobia – we see it and hear it often – but for something that horrific to happen makes us want to stand together as a community around the whole world.”

That message of inclusivity continued on Friday night with a family themed event held at the Triangle in association with Dorset’s children’s hospice Julia’s House.

This included an open air screening of Rio 2 with free candyfloss, popcorn, a bouncy castle and face painting.

“We had so many families, children, and people from all different diversities coming together as a community – that was just amazing,” Ms Clarke added.

Dorset insurer LV= decorated its landmark green heart for the town’s Pride festival.

The firm also had staff at the festival handing out stickers promoting LV= as a diverse employer.

Meanwhile, Dorset Police has decorated one of its branded cars with rainbows and stars to celebrate Pride.

The police car has taken to the streets to encourage communities to report hate crime, as well as demonstrate the force’s commitment to working with LGBT communities.

Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill said: “It is always wonderful to see the whole town come together to celebrate the LGBT community in such a vibrant, exciting way.

"Recent national events have highlighted increased community tensions, and it is vital we do all we can to reassure Dorset residents that hate crime is taken seriously.

“The vehicle will be parked in the Lower Gardens after the event, and members of the public are welcome to come and have their photo taken with the car.”