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Named after New York City's famed Christopher Street, the June 1969 site of the Stonewall Rebellion. The CSW parade was started in June 1970 the year following the Stonewall Riot, by a number of Los Angeles' gay activists, prominent among them Morris Kight, Reverend Troy Perry, and Bob Humphries. The first parade traveled east on Hollywood Boulevard starting from McCadden Place in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles, California. Although one of several gay pride parades that took place that day around the United States, this was the only "street closing" gay pride parade held in 1970 --- something emulated by the other parades the following year. After several troubled years (no parade was held in 1973), the CSW parade returned in 1974, and originated yet another feature of the modern gay pride movement by adding a festival to its annual event.
There was always a tense relationship between CSW, the businesses on Hollywood Boulevard and the Los Angeles Police Department LAPD, so in 1979 the parade and festival were moved to the more friendly environs of Santa Monica Boulevard, in the so-to-be-incorporated (1984) City of West Hollywood, California. The parade now moves west on Santa Monica Boulevard from the corner of Crescent Heights Boulevard, and the festival is held in West Hollywood Park and the adjacent section of San Vicente Boulevard. Present day attendance is typically 250,000 for the parade, and 40,000 at the two-day festival.