Small farewell party transforms into huge gay celebration - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Small farewell party transforms into huge gay celebration

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(AP) -

What started as a small costume party held to bid farewell to a friend has blossomed into a huge annual celebration of gay culture that's headed into its 44th year.
   More than 100 events are scheduled for Southern Decadence, a nearly weeklong festival held over the Labor Day weekend annually in various bars and clubs throughout metropolitan New Orleans but primarily in the French Quarter.
   Grand Marshall Rip Naquin, who's also one of the event organizers, says the big influx of people came about 1995 when about 25,000 participated. Now, he says, each year is getting bigger and bigger. He says the response has just been amazing.
   Last year, about 160,000 people participated.
   The event runs through Monday.

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