PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Pride is back and thousands took to the streets of downtown Portland to celebrate acceptance and inclusion within the LGBTQ+ community.

While exact audience estimates have not yet been released, many people at the Sunday parade said it was one of the largest Pride events they’ve seen in Portland. Thousands continued the party at the waterfront.

With the rainbow flags flying, the festive parade made its grand return after years away because of COVID.

“It feels really, really nice to get back into the community, see people out and enjoying themselves, and just back to normal,” said attendee Salvatore Mortillaro.

Marching bands, floats, dancing and music filled the streets from Old Town to Tom McCall Waterfront Park, all led by Grand Marshal Bolivia Carmichaels.

Some who spoke with KOIN 6 News said while it’s great to be celebrating in-person again, it’s also important to show off and recognize how far the movement has come.

“Pride means being out and being authentic as who you are,” Richard Daniels said.

“This is my first Pride event and I absolutely love it. It’s awesome,” said Lexi Giordano. “Pride is an open experience where people can be who they feel like they are inside when they were born differently, they feel differently, but this is where you get to express yourself and have fun without anybody judging you.”

While there were no known threats, this year’s event also had security teams ready to jump in if needed. Portland Fire and Rescue ATV units were stationed around the parade route, along with PPB. The Portland Pride Festival took place about a week after a group of white nationalists were arrested for planning to riot at a Pride event in Idaho.

After days of events, the festival is set to officially start wrapping around 6 p.m. Sunday.