PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — Standing atop a giant wedding cake float, Aubrey Loots and Danny Leclair exchanged vows New Year’s Day in the first same-sex marriage during the Tournament of Roses Parade.
Throngs of spectators cheered as the men, dressed in dark suits, faced each other and held hands before the Rev. Alfreda Lanoix, who officiated the ceremony aboard the AIDS Healthcare Foundation float.
Days earlier, a San Diego woman launched a Facebook page urging people to boycott the 125th Rose Parade after learning of the couple’s plans. But some like Jennifer Adair, who cheered along with her girlfriend, lined the streets just for this moment.
“We’re a modern-day society, so accept it. Don’t worry about what other people do,” Adair told the Los Angeles Times.
The Pasadena Tournament of Roses, which puts on the parade, had said the float represents this year’s parade theme, “Dreams Come True.”
Kevin Ferguson, who watched the couple pass by, said he supported their move despite opposition by some.
“You can’t put a timetable on another person’s freedom,” Ferguson told the Times.
Loots and Leclair, who met across a crowded dance floor 12 years ago, own a small chain of hair salons. Their wedding came toward the end of the two-hour parade festivities.
Los Angeles Dodgers longtime broadcaster Vin Scully, the parade’s grand marshal, kicked off the show after six F-16s from the Air Force’s Thunderbirds roared overhead.
“Instead of me throwing out the first pitch, let’s start the parade,” said Scully, who will toss the kickoff coin at the Rose Bowl match between Stanford and Michigan State.
One by one, flowered floats, exotic equestrians and brass bands marched along the 5 ½-mile route.
A heavy police presence ringed this year’s revelry in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings. More than 1,100 officers patrolled the crowd. Bomb-sniffing dogs and a wide range of video surveillance also were used to detect suspicious behavior.
At the start of the parade route, police arrested 19 animal rights activists who tried to stop the SeaWorld float featuring orcas. The demonstrators were booked on suspicion of interfering with a special event, Pasadena police Lt. Terysa Rojas said.
The parade went on as scheduled with officers and sheriff’s deputies guarding the SeaWorld float as it passed by onlookers.
Overnight, 17 people were arrested along the parade route on suspicion of various offenses including public intoxication, vandalism and battery.
Despite the arrests, Rojas said parade-goers were mostly well-behaved.