COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — It’s been three years since the last Pikes Peak Pride Parade so energy in the community that came out to participate was running high.

“The most people ever, this is the happiest pride in Colorado Springs that I’ve ever seen and I’ve been here 20 years,” said Elizabeth Eagle.

Downtown Colorado Springs was packed Sunday with thousands of people adorned in bright colors.

“Showing our pride for our city,” said Patience Dixon, a Colorado Springs native. “I’m local, born and raised and you know I got to teach my son about pride and what we do and show everybody equality and being inclusive.”

The morning started with a parade at 11 o’clock on Tejon Street.

“The energy you get from the crowd as you go by and you’re making noise and they’re making noise back and you’re throwing up kisses and high-fiving the kids… oh my gosh there’s no better feeling in the whole wide world,” Eagle said.

Multiple organizations and companies walked, rode in a car, or even on horseback, waving flags and dancing in the streets.

“All I felt was love. Just love, love, love, love,” Dixon said.

This idea even spread to the sidewalks.

“We are out giving hugs today,” said Stacey Ziegelbauer, state leader for the Colorado Chapter of Free Mom Hugs.

This was the first time since COVID that everyone was able to meet for the pride festival.

“I’m a big hugger. I hug everybody. And so, it’s been amazing to finally get out and just get that energy out and be able to share affection with people… it’s so nice to finally be able to hug,” Ziegelbauer said.

“It’s so good for us to get out and have a carefree day and celebrate diversity and love our country, love our pride, pride in a lot of different things,” Eagle said.

But, participants said it all boils down to one main thing.

“Love is love. It’s always going to be. So, it doesn’t matter who you love or how you love… as long as you’re loving somebody and loving yourself, that’s all that matters,” Dixon said.