DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — Thousands of people traveled to downtown Dayton on Saturday to kick off Pride Month festivities by being themselves and connecting with others.

In Dayton, activities kicked off with the LGBTQ+ Pride Parade, which featured a lot of different notable characters.

A duck made an appearance to really fire up the crowd, as she made her way throughout the parade route. The Mandalorian with Baby Yoda strolled their way down the parade in a very colorful style. Joining in on the festive fun, a festive fox walked in the parade too.

The 2023 Dayton Pride was important to Gaia Naturi, who is the current and reigning Miss Gay Ohio. She says she loved celebrating Pride with her hometown and hopes events events like Dayton Pride create a brighter future for every member of the community.

“I hope understanding,” Naturi said. “I hope love like true, genuine, unconditional love and acceptance.”

Miss Gay Ohio 2023 said a message for individuals that are in the LGBTQ+ who may not feel accepted or loved because of who they actually are.

We love you no matter what. We love you. If you don’t feel loved, if you don’t feel welcome, if you don’t feel accepted, we love you. Hiya I’m Gaia. I’m your Miss Gay Ohio 2023. I am here to tell you that none of us are going to make it out of this thing called life alive, but as long as there’s breath in my body, I’ll make sure you’ll never have to do it alone.

The parade may have kicked the festivities off, but Pride on Fifth kept the party going with a lot of local vendors and music.

Vendors set up at Pride on Fifth were not only selling items, but were informing the community of available resources for people who may be in need in.

“Particularly at Pride, because it’s such an important event to show support for the LGBT community and, you know, just let everybody know that everybody is welcome and that we all deserve to be included and to be people,” Matthew Noordsij-Jones, a Pride on Fifth vendor said.