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The HERO Parade
By Audrey Goh

The HERO Parade is not for the puritan or faint-hearted. It is the most talked-about and outrageous street parade ever, the pinnacle of all celebrations for the unique community of culture and creativity, the biggest gay and lesbian pride celebration in New Zealand.

Spectators will witness over 60 floats with hundreds of performers, along with thousands of other supporters and volunteers, all coming together to catch this annual event.

There is more to the event than just the parade. In fact, the whole celebration is an elaborate affair with lots of partying and good spirits for a period of two weeks. The events that take place includes Pre Festival, Opening Night Gala, HERO Theatre Festival, Auckland Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, Queer Speak, Special Events, Visual Arts, Drag, Sports, outdoor adventures, Electronic HERO (radio/online), HERO Party, and the HERO Parade.

I had the rare opportunity of attending one in 1998, and I was overwhelmed by the magic of it all. I saw leather and lace, spikes and stilettos, tits and butts, hookers and nuns, long hair and no hair, whips and twirling batons… the whole works!

That year, the HERO parade took place on Ponsonby Road in Auckland on February 21st, which was a wet Saturday. Nonetheless, the weather did not dampen the mood of all who attended the event. It began at about 7.30 p.m. with a pre-parade entertainment. There was even a simulcast from Mai FM 88.6. The official opening at Crummer Road began at 8.30 p.m., followed by the parade at 8.45 p.m. Float after float past by with various interesting and queer names. I saw muscle-bound men, big-breasted women, ‘chicks’ clad in full leather gear straddling cool Harleys, dancing ‘queens’, and all the usual splatter of daring and highly exciting performances synonymous with the gay and lesbian community.

In order to secure a seat for the parade, we had to pay NZ$45. But all money raised went directly towards assisting those infected or affected with HIV and AIDS. Alternatively, watch the show for free as a viewer on the side street.

The parade ended at Three Lamps slightly over 11 p.m. However, the party ends not with the parade. A quick hop on the Pink Party Bus brought us to the HERO Party. We boogied till the wee hours of the morning and had absolutely great fun although the tickets to the party did cost us NZ$85.

For more information on the festival, do check the official HERO web site.

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