Famous gay bar Woody’s built a Pride float in 1993

If Dean Odorico has learned anything from his 33 years as general manager of iconic Church Street gay bar Woody’s, it’s that “we can never take Pride for granted.

“It’s important to see it from the perspective of someone from another country or a small town where it’s not accepted to be queer,” he adds. “That’s what Pride is for, and we should always remember that.”

Odorico has fond memories of this photo from the Toronto Star – the construction of Woody’s first parade float – and the spectacular day that preceded it.

He worked on the float with his neighbors Lisa Penstone, owner of Lee’s Glitz, and David Barrett, manager of the gay Boots nightclub. “His mother let us build the tank in the underground parking lot of an apartment building on Isabella Street,” says Odorico. “She was the great there and got everyone moving their car for us.”

The theme for the 1993 Pride Parade, the event’s 13th year, was “going out”. “It was a nice tank,” says Odorico. “We had all our staff and drag queens and friends on it.”

Odorico gets emotional when he remembers the impact the tank had on him and the local community. “It was probably one of the best things we’ve ever done,” he says. “The way it all came together and blew everyone away on the parade route. The crowd reaction was huge and it really made a name for us. It was one of the highlights of working here.

While Woody is still one of the tallest and longest in the gay village, he no longer enters a float. “(The parade) has gotten so big,” he says happily. “Everyone works-works-works during the day.” But that doesn’t mean Woody’s is cutting spending. “We really decorate inside the bar and outside,” says Odorico. “We’ve been working on it for a few weeks. After missing two years, we wanted to make a big splash and celebrate. »

Like many local businesses, Woody’s has received federal pandemic support, which Odorico is very grateful for. “If it had not been for the government, we would not have lasted more than a few months,” he said. “We are lucky to live in Canada.


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