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San Francisco Pride Celebration Looked Very Different In COVID-19 Era

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- The Pride celebration in San Francisco's Castro District didn't have the normal crush of celebrants Sunday as in past years so the unified message of equality was expressed in many different ways.

This year's event took place amid the COVID-19 outbreak that kept local bars shuttered and forced the cancellation of the annual Pride Parade.

Still some came to the Castro to dance while others marched in protests and rallies with friends.

"This just gave people a reason to gather and celebrate that we are still alive and fighting for something that is bigger than all of us," said San Francisco resident Katie Dyas.

Early Sunday afternoon, vandals spray painted ATMS and shattered glass doors and windows at two banks on Castro Street. One man could be seen on video taken by witnesses, finding a broom and sweeping up the broken glass as a security guard arrived at the scene.

Meanwhile, dozens danced on Castro Street with a large sign posted 'Love beats Fear'. At nearby Mission Dolores Park, hundreds gathered and marched in solidarity with ongoing Black Lives Matter protests.

"We march together. Everyone was safe, we all had our masks on. It was powerful," said Dana Oppenheim, who runs Dolores Park Cafe.

Dana and her wife Rachel Herbert have been together 12 years. On a typical Pride weekend, they say sales at their cafe would have been three times what was generated this year.

"It's been super unpredictable but we've just been flexible and reinvented ourselves and pivoted," said Herbert.

At the LGBTQ Center on Market Street, newly painted Honey Bears by the artist Fnnch including a Rainbow Bear with brown and black stripes in solidarity with racial justice protests, brought family, friends, and many others together.

"We've had a list of many LGBT leaders that have come out of their day take their picture, post on Instagram, and hashtag the center," said LGBT leader Mark Rhoades, whose public relations firm created the idea.

Former San Francisco Mayoral candidate Mark Leno, the first openly gay man elected to the California State Senate took his picture.

"We were still able to celebrate Pride and we did it with this beautiful mural. I think it shows our endurance and our strength. We can still celebrate and be proud of our community," said Rhoades.

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