Thousands of people are in Middletown Saturday for the city's first ever pride parade and festival.
"It's important to remember that the LGBTQ+ community lived in the shadows, in many places still lives in the shadows, and this is an open and inclusive event. This is a welcoming community. We're very proud to host the event tomorrow," Middletown Mayor Dan Drew said Friday.
The parade kicked off at 2 p.m. with hundreds of marchers traveling from St. John’s Square to the South Green, and businesses along the route are taking part. At Forbidden City Bistro, they've got pride flags up and a special cocktail menu just for the day.
"The exciting thing is more fun, more friends," said Forbidden City Bistro Owner Eric Leong.
Following the parade, there's a festival on the South Green with music, performers, vendors and food trucks. Thousands are expected to attend.
"We're expecting a huge crowd all day long. I'm sure all the businesses here are pretty excited about that, and it's going to be a great day," said La Boca Mexican Restaurant Director of Operations Murph Murphy.
To keep the party going all night long, La Boca Mexican Restaurant is hosting the after party.
"We're having the official after party. We have five drag queens coming, we've got go-go dancers, a DJ," said Murphy.
Businesses say there is a lot of excitement around Saturday's event-packed day.
"I'm hoping for a lot of acceptance and love across the entire street. I would expect no less. Middletown is a very inclusive town. Everybody's looking forward to it, a lot of positive energy going on," said Murphy.
Roads are closed for the event. Main Street is shut down from Union Street to St. John's Square, and Washington is closed from High Street to deKoven Drive.
For more information on the events as well as parking, click here.
NBC Connecticut is a proud partner of the Middletown Pride Parade.