FARGO — Sixteen-year-old Reis James said she's "only" 6 feet, 3 inches tall, but strapping on a pair of 6-inch black leather heels, she towered over the colorful crowd at the annual Fargo-Moorhead Pride Parade on Sunday, Aug. 11.

It was the first time James was dressed in full drag out in the community. Standing on the sidewalk along the parade route with her mom and sister, James said a woman in a rainbow skirt insisted she not watch, but walk and be part of the parade.

"Everyone was cheering for her," said mom Paula Lovgren, adding the moment made her teary-eyed.

James said she loved being "gaymous" for the day as admirers asked to take photos with her outside the Fargo Civic Center where hundreds gathered for a rally following the parade.

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With pride flags draped over shoulders, hundreds of people gathered outside the Fargo Civic Center for a rally following the annual Pride Parade on Sunday, Aug. 11. Kim Hyatt/ The Forum
With pride flags draped over shoulders, hundreds of people gathered outside the Fargo Civic Center for a rally following the annual Pride Parade on Sunday, Aug. 11. Kim Hyatt/ The Forum

Hugs and candy were shared freely Sunday afternoon as the parade made its way from Moorhead into downtown Fargo. Dozens of floats filled with glitter were cheered on by the crowd waving rainbow flags. From social organizations, churches and businesses, like a fleet of honking Fed Ex trucks, the streets were filled with diversity and united in support of the LGBTQ+ community.

This year's grand marshal, Johnny Olson, said the turnout and support at Sunday's parade — and events all weekend — was overwhelming. The longtime drag performer known as Miss Kitty and member of the Fargo-Moorhead Gay Men's Chorus said he hasn't seen so many people at the parade in years.

Riding on a red convertible, Grand Marshal Johnny Olson leads the Fargo-Moorhead Pride Parade over the Red River on Sunday, Aug. 11. Olson said the turnout and support at celebration events all weekend was overwhelming.
Riding on a red convertible, Grand Marshal Johnny Olson leads the Fargo-Moorhead Pride Parade over the Red River on Sunday, Aug. 11. Olson said the turnout and support at celebration events all weekend was overwhelming.

"I don't even have words to explain how much fun this has been," said Olson, who rode on a red convertible in the parade. "It's really nice to see the love the community has to come out and do this ... This whole weekend has reaffirmed that we are a large community. So many people have come out to all the different events and supporting every organization ... It's just nonstop friendly faces everywhere you go."

Carolyn Monzingo said she reuses her rainbow glasses, necklace and flag each year for the Fargo-Moorhead Pride Parade.
Carolyn Monzingo said she reuses her rainbow glasses, necklace and flag each year for the Fargo-Moorhead Pride Parade.

A girl catches a glance at the parade ahead as her colorful float makes its way over the Red River.
A girl catches a glance at the parade ahead as her colorful float makes its way over the Red River.