Officials vow to make SF's 46th Pride most 'celebratory' in history

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In the aftermath of Orlando, city officials in San Francisco are vowing to make the 46th annual Pride celebration, not only safe, but the most "celebratory" in its history.

Crews are fighting the clock, making those last minute-preparations for this weekend’s 2016 festival. 30 floats will hit the parade route on Sunday and are being constructed in a warehouse on Pier 54.

“Prep is going really well,” Florence Korkames said. “It’s going smooth. It’s hectic, but we’re getting it done.”

In the nearby Castro district, the Pride festival is giving a boost to businesses like long-time staple Cliff’s Variety.

“It doesn’t matter how many rainbow flags we order, they’re all gone by the end of Saturday,” Manager Paul Ellis said.

Ellis said the store recently sold out of 50 to 60 yards of rainbow ribbon thanks to one customer.

“It was the San Francisco Police Department Mission Station,” Ellis said. “They decided they wanted to offer their officers the opportunity to wear a rainbow ribbon behind their name badge.”

The store quickly re-ordered and just received a new shipment of ribbon spools.

Civic Center Plaza begins its transformation on Friday when tents, fences, and barricades will be set up.

Attendees are looking forward to a fun festival following the mass shooting at Pulse, a gay club in Orlando, where 49 people lost their lives early Sunday, June 12.

“Coming so soon after Orlando, it’s a really good time to reiterate to people that what happened there shouldn’t have happened and we strive for equality,” Lee Clarkson said.

For the first time ever, added security screening at the fest will be implemented, including metal detectors at Civic Center Plaza.

“You're going to have to go through metal wands or a metal detector -- so don't bring any bags, no weapons, no sharp knives. Give yourself a little more time to come through. Essentially, act like you were going to the airport to get on a plane,” said Sam Singer the spokesperson for SF Pride.

Only soft bags up to 18” by 18” will be allowed at Civic Center events. There will also be more police officers patrolling than in previous years.

By Thursday night, many got an early start on the celebration, meeting friends out at neighborhood bars.

In the Castro, the atmosphere was lively at Midnight Sun on 18th Street. Bartender Billy Nance said a lot of patrons were gearing up for the big weekend ahead.

“It's happiness. I think everyone's just ready to show love. Have fun. Be a little crazy,” said Nance.

“It should be a good weekend. So we're waiting to cut loose a little bit,” said James Siegel, a patron at the bar.

Pride has a huge economic impact on the city. Singer said it brings in millions of dollars, far more than even Super Bowl 50.

At Beck's Motor Lodge, groups began arriving from out of town. For some, including Robin Bailey who is visiting from Fort Worth, Texas, it will be their first time experiencing San Francisco's Pride Festival.

“I'm excited, we just got off the plane, but I'm excited,” said Bailey.

“I've heard a lot about the parade. I've heard a lot about the festivities. And I'm looking forward to all the concerts and seeing all the costumes and all the people, all the dancing. I just really can't wait,” said Pikara Poole, who recently moved to San Francisco.

For many, Pride Weekend is about more than just the party or parade-- especially this year.

“Just really having the sense of community and feeling connected to other gay men and lesbian, transgender; supporting each other, raising each other up and thinking about Orlando,” said Desi Tafoya, of San Francisco.

Street closures near Civic Center Plaza begin on Friday morning at 9 a.m. and will reopen early Monday morning before the commute.

The Civic Center festival and parade are free to the public.