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If you read my first report on the NYC Dyke March, you'll know I cover these events on bicycle. That way, I don't wait for the action to come to me....I go to the action. I might cover the whole parade route a few times during the day.
Now...places to NOT watch a parade: on the sidewalks, 6 deep with people. Places TO watch a parade: AT the very beginning, off on the side streets, where the marchers are organizing. You can mingle around, chat with the folks, and get some nice pics. And the best place is at the very end, the marchers are winding down, relaxing, they've lost some clothes along the way, too.
How to get from Point 1 to Point 2? I join a group, say the "Gay Boy Scouts of America," or whatever, then JOIN the parade, I become a marcher, and bike at my own pace once in the line of march down to the end point. No standing on the sidelines here. Works like a charm every year. (This would work without a bike too). If, you feel someone (a cop) might challenge you, wave like a maniac to the crowd, can they tell you're not gay? Only drawback...there is always the chance you could wind up on the evening news, with all the TV coverage... try explaining to the wife, family, friends, and co-workers what you are doing marching in a Gay Parade!
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These parades, held in a lot of major cities, are a blast though. One of my favorite days of the year to spend in New York.