The cloudy skies couldn't hold back the rainbow in Moncton on Saturday as hundreds gathered for the annual Pride parade.

What started as a solitary parade back in the year 2000 has grown into a week-long celebration of diversity in the Maritimes, with this year being the biggest yet.

“It seems to be growing,” said parade participant Katie McGillivary. “There's a bigger crowd this year versus last year. I just feel like the vibe is way better this year.”

It was everything the crowd hoped for. An outpouring of positivity just two months after they were holding candlelight vigils for those killed in the Orlando nightclub shootings.

A commemorative bike ride kicked off the festivities last Saturday.

“We still have that hanging over us this year, but we brought it into this celebratory week just to show we're here, we deserve to be here, and deserve to be safe and celebrate without repercussion,” said Charles MacDougall of the Greater Moncton River of Pride.

Mixed in with the flags and the cheers is a new mark on history. It’s the first time a sitting premier and mayor took part in Moncton's Pride parade, with a church minister serving as grand marshal.

“For so many people, our elders and people who have been around longer, they can't imagine a time back then when a mayor would have walked in the Pride parade, where a premier would have walked in the Pride parade,” said MacDougall.

Moncton Mayor Dawn Arnold believes the world has changed.

“I've talked to a lot of people along the parade route, people that have been part of the community for a long time. I think it was really touching for them to see that we've come a long way,” said Arnold.

New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant agrees.

“I think it says a lot about how far New Brunswickers have come,” said Gallant. There are thousands of people here participating in the parade and coming to watch and support the event.”

United Church Revered Jim MacDonald's congregation underwent two years of training to become an affirming ministry, meaning it is open and welcoming to people of all sexual orientations and gender identities.

“Spirituality and being queer or trans, it's not mutually exclusive, you can be both,” said MacDougall. “It's great to have a space at Central United where you can do both and you can be yourself.”

Pride celebrations in the Greater Moncton area continue until Sunday afternoon, but the colours and sounds of Saturday’s parade leave a lasting impression, and a high expectation for next year.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Cami Kepke.