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MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) — With open arms, Miami Beach welcomed all for its 9th annual Gay Pride Parade, celebrating love and equality with a colorful flair.

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The Miami Beach Pride Parade and Festival kicked off at 5th Street and Ocean Drive, bringing members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community together to commemorate their unique spirit and culture.

Open to all, the event featured music, food, dancing and all kinds of entertainment, including 70 parade contingencies, 20 floats and over 3,000 participants.

“I love it, I love all the support and I love the huge crowd and I love that everybody came out to represent and show who we are,” said Andre Gkikas.

Thousands from all over the country lined the streets of South Beach to hang out and have fun.

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“It feels awesome to be able to be among people where we can be ourselves and be accepted in America, and be proud of who we are,” said Natalie. “Love is love, no matter what color, what race, what’s your sexual orientation.”

For many who have often felt shunned from society, the day symbolizes a message of tolerance and recognition.

“It is important to be who you are and love who you are, and accept who you are,” Natalie added. “And then others will accept you, as well.”

South Florida is home to one of the largest gay communities in the U.S. Just a little north of the beach in Broward County, Wilton Manors has long considered itself to be the “second gayest city” in the country.

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“It feels amazing to see Miami grow so much and become so accepting of the gay community,” said one shirtless party-goer. “It’s great to see Miami at its best.”