Best Parade (2003)
Each June since 1978, Houston's gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community has officially celebrated being proud of who they are with the snazzy, spectacular Pride Parade. Because of Houston's sweltering summer heat, in 1997 planners started holding the event after sundown, giving the parade the exuberant charge of a nightclub in full swing -- and starting a trend of nighttime pride parades throughout the country. Since the dancers, activists and flag-bearers make their way through the Montrose area as opposed to downtown, there's a groovy local flavor to the event (although there's talk that the parade is outgrowing its space). What started as a small affair is now a must-attend event even for local government officials and businesses like JP Morgan Chase. Gay police officers and firefighters also participate, and this year's silver anniversary of the parade drew in the biggest crowd ever (nearly 150,000), with revelers crowding under a 1,000-pound chandelier that hung above the intersection of Westheimer and Montrose.