KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Knox Pride Homecoming weekend is in full swing. Thousands graced the streets Friday night in downtown Knoxville for the Knox Pride parade after a three year hiatus due to the pandemic.

“It’s great to have pride back here in Knoxville,” Micah Long said. “It’s something that the community has sorely missed.”

Knox Pride’s Traci Sisson said, “We’re ready to just celebrate and be our authentic selves. And bring the community together.”

While they marched as a group, they are rejoicing peoples’ individualism this weekend.

“All the people standing here who have gone through so much adversity and they still manage to be themselves,” Matt Vogt said. “To be brave and to be warriors and stand up and be themselves. And celebrate everyone’s differences.”

Sister Coco with Scruffy City Sisters said, “Knoxville is a really wonderful city. It’s very open, very welcoming of everyone.”

“When you see the amazing people that are here in the city, it really just goes to show that it doesn’t matter where you are, you can always find somebody you’ll fit in with,” Long said.

More than 60 groups participated in the parade and many are looking forward to the Knox Pride Festival at World’s Fair Park on Saturday and Sunday.

Sisson said, “It usually is just a one-day event. So it’s usually parade in the morning, and then celebration in the afternoon, evening. But we’re doing the parade Friday, celebrations Saturday, and then Sunday from 12 to 4 we’re doing a market to finish the weekend.”

“We’re not here to try to change anybody or make anybody into something they aren’t. We’re here to encourage people to be who they truly are,” Sister Coco said.

Long added, “You can always carve a space for yourself. You don’t need to fit in with a certain group, you just make your own way.”

The Knox Pride festival is free to attend this weekend at World’s Fair Park.

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World’s Fair Park Drive between Grand and Clinch Avenues will be closed along with the Clinch Avenue bridge between World’s Fair Park Drive and Henley Street for the big event.